Will I qualify for Social Security disability benefits if I have atrial fibrillation?

Beating Heart ImagingYou may or may not qualify for Social Security disability depending on your unique medical condition.

Any time something prevents your heart from functioning normally, you risk side effects and complications. Atrial fibrillation, called “AFib” for short, impacts your heart rhythm. If your doctor has diagnosed you with AFib, the upper chambers of your heart might not be pumping blood normally, and you could suffer serious health complications such a stroke or heart failure.

Symptoms of AFib

You may have AFib without any symptoms, or you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Fainting
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with heavy manual labor

If you experience any of these symptoms, your doctor should give you medication to help. If that still does not work, you might need a pacemaker to keep your heart rhythm regulated.

Getting SSDI With AFib

If your treatment works to control the symptoms of AFib, you will not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, if you have other symptoms that go beyond what the medication or a pacemaker can treat, then you might qualify to receive SSDI.

Since AFib is a type of heart arrhythmia, it may be evaluated pursuant to Section 4.05 of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments. To qualify for benefits pursuant to this section of the Blue Book, your AFib must:

  • Be irreversible, uncontrolled, and recurrent. In other words, your condition is not controlled by medication, a pacemaker, or other medical interventions.
  • Cause episodes of fainting or near fainting despite treatment. A near-fainting episode, also known as a near syncope, is not just a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness. Instead, it is a period of altered consciousness.
  • Be documented by resulting or ambulatory electrocardiography or another appropriate medically acceptable testing that occurs at the time of fainting or near fainting to establish the medical connection between AFib and fainting or near fainting episodes.

Section 4.05 Isn’t the Only Way to Qualify for Benefits

Section 4.05’s requirements are precise, but they aren’t the only way you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. You may also qualify for benefits if your Social Security disability application proves that:

  • Your AFib is equal in severity to another Blue Book listing. If you can prove that your AFib impacts your life to the same degree as another listing, then you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
  • Your AFib is expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or result in your death. To make this determination, the Social Security Administration will consider whether you can do any work, not just the work that you did before your AFib diagnosis.

If you qualify for Social Security disability benefits in any of these two ways, then two things must happen before you receive benefits. First, you must fully complete an honest and accurate Social Security disability application. Second, you must provide appropriate documentation, which includes, but is not always limited to, information about your diagnosis, treatment plan, prognosis, work history, and education.

Some of the medical documentation that you will need may include:

  • Chest x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, or CT scan results
  • Electrocardiogram results
  • Holter monitoring results
  • Echocardiogram results
  • Electrophysiological testing and mapping results
  • Blood test results
  • Exercise tolerance test or stress test results
  • Tilt table test results which show your blood pressure and heart rate respond to gravity
  • Detailed information about how your fainting episodes are connected to your AFib
  • A detailed list of every treatment you’ve treated and its effect on your body
  • Reports about any AFib related operations or hospitalizations you have had

Additionally, you will need a detailed report from your doctor that describes how AFib impacts your life.

Find Out If You Qualify for SSDI With the Help of an Experienced Disability Lawyer

Remember, not everyone with AFib will qualify for Social Security disability. When applying for disability benefits with a complicated condition like AFib, it is especially important to work with a Social Security disability attorney on your application. Fill out our online contact form or call us directly, and we will be in touch soon with more information for you.

 

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