A heart attack is a serious medical event, but it does not automatically make you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Instead, you must prove that you have a permanently disabling condition that keeps you from working for at least 12 months.
A Heart Attack Isn’t Always a Permanently Disabling Condition
Many people who survive heart attacks can go back to work after a period of rest and recuperation. These people are not eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) because their heart attacks did not result in a permanently disabling condition.
However, other people suffer heart attacks and are unable to go back to work because they’ve suffered permanent impairments in their ability to walk, talk, breathe, or engage in other essential daily activities. If you can’t go back to work and you have worked long enough to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must prove that you are eligible for benefits pursuant to a section of the Blue Book or that you qualify for benefits because of your residual functional capacity.
Blue Book Eligibility
Heart attacks do not have their own listing in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments. However, Section 4.00 of the Blue Book deals with the cardiovascular system. If you have a heart attack, then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the requirements of one of the conditions in Section 4.00.
For example, you may qualify if you can prove that you suffer from:
- Chronic heart failure (Section 4.02). After a heart attack, the risk of experiencing chronic heart failure increases. If you suffer chronic heart failure after your heart attack and you meet the eligibility requirements in Section 4.02 of the Blue Book, then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
- Ischemic heart disease (section 4.04). Coronary artery disease is a common cause of heart attacks. If you suffer from coronary artery disease, then you may meet the Social Security disability eligibility requirements in Section 4.04 of the Blue Book.
Residual Functional Capacity Eligibility
If you don’t meet the qualifications in Section 4.00 of the Blue Book, then you must prove that your residual functional capacity (RFC) keeps you from working. To do this, your doctor must complete a residual functional capacity form. The form asks specific questions about your physical and mental limitations.
Your RFC determines whether you are capable of sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work and describes any non-exertional or mental limitations that would further limit the type of job you could do. “Grid rules” take into account your age, education, and past work to determine if you can be considered automatically disabled based on your RFC.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer After a Heart Attack
Whether your Social Security disability application is based on Blue Book eligibility or residual functional capacity, you must present:
- An accurate and complete Social Security disability application for consideration
- Medical documentation of your disabling condition
You earned SSDI benefits by paying into the Social Security system during the time that you worked. Now that you are permanently out of work because of your heart attack, you should receive the benefits that you paid for while you were working.
Social Security disability can provide you with essential monthly payments. Do not allow any more time to go by before beginning the application process or pursuing an appeal.
Social Security disability law is complex. You need an experienced and dedicated lawyer to fight for your right to compensation. However, very few North Carolina lawyers are board-certified specialists in Social Security disability law.
Attorney Vance Jennings at Brent Adams & Associates is a board-certified Social Security disability lawyer and can review all aspects of your application or your appeal after you’ve suffered a heart attack. Call Brent Adams & Associates today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.