I recently had a heart attack. I don’t know if I’ll be able to return to work. Could I qualify for Social Security disability?

The answer will depend on your situation. Many people have heart attacks and then make complete recoveries that allow them to continue working for many years. Others sustain a large amount of heart damage that permanently affects their ability to care for themselves. A heart attack alone does not guarantee eligibility for benefits under the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) programs.

To be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration, an individual must be unable to perform work activity for at least 12 months because of a medically determinable impairment.

If your heart attack has caused little damage, you are unlikely to qualify for Social Security disability. However, if it has left you with physical restrictions or limitations that affect your ability to work, then you might qualify for disability benefits.

To receive SSDI or SSI benefits for a heart attack, those limitations must be expected to last at least one year, and they must prevent you from working at any job that you have had in the past or any other job as determined by your age, education, and work history.

Because of modern technology, most people make strong recoveries after heart attacks. However, if your heart attack was caused by an underlying medical condition, you may have a valid claim. To apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will need medical documentation of your heart attack and your response to at least three months of follow-up care.

Do you have additional questions? Find answers in Boston disability attorney John Keefe’s book The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. To discuss your claim with a Social Security disability lawyer, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer