Heart Attack Disability Benefits: Tips to Help You Qualify

Disability Benefits

It makes sense that if you have a heart attack – a major medical event – you’d qualify for disability benefits, right? After all, you likely spent time in the hospital. Surely you have had more doctor’s appointments than usual and may feel tired and need to sleep more often. All that likely means you’re the perfect candidate for heart attack disability benefits, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t determine disability benefits based on a single medical event. Rather, your heart attack must prevent you from working in any job for at least 12 months. What’s more, the SSA won’t review any medical evidence for your claim until 90 days after your heart attack occurs.

Does the SSA Offer Heart Attack Disability Benefits?

The answer to the question, “does the SSA offer heart attack disability benefits” is “yes and no.” Yes, you can qualify for benefits if you can prove that you meet the requirements for disability set out by the SSA. But also, no, you won’t get Social Security disability benefits solely because you had a heart attack.

The SSA has what it calls a “Blue Book” that lists all criteria the agency uses to evaluate SSD claims. This document lists every type of medical problem that might qualify for disability and evidence required to secure benefit approval. Section 4 defines what adult cardiovascular (heart) diseases and issues can qualify, along with what evidence you need to show.

It also says that if you have a heart attack, the SSA waits 90 days before performing any medical tests.

What Heart Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability?

While it’s sometimes difficult to get heart attack disability benefits, plenty of other cardiovascular issues qualify for payments. Some heart impairments that the SSA commonly approves for disability benefits are as follows:

  • Aortic aneurysm (or an aneurysm in other major branches of your blood vessels)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
  • Congenital heart disease if it’s symptomatic
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Coronary heart disease (CAD)
  • Heart transplants
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Recurrent heart arrhythmias (such as atrial fibrillation, also called a-fib)

IMPORTANT: This doesn’t mean the SSA automatically approves these medical issues for disability benefits. It simply means enough of these conditions force people to stop working for a year or longer afterwards. For that specific reason, these conditions show up far more often on claims awarded monthly Social Security disability payments.

We aren’t doctors, but it’s clear most conditions on this list have one important issue in common: restricted blood flow. And one of the most common reasons for restricted blood flow is calcified plaque that develops in your body’s veins.

Fatty substances can clump together and permanently stick to the insides of your veins and blood vessels. If plaque builds up enough to prevent your blood from flowing freely throughout your body, it can cause significant damage. It’s also dangerous when these hardened plaques crack or break apart. Why? Because loose, hard pieces of that plaque can start moving around in your bloodstream. A piece of hard plaque can get stuck in a place or position that completely restricts your blood flow. This type of blockage is a frequent trigger for dangerous medical events, like heart attacks and strokes.

Is It Hard to Get Heart Attack Disability Payments?

Getting heart attack disability payments can be a challenge for several reasons:

  1. You must prove you cannot work at all for at least 12 months. Specifically, you must prove your health forces you to stop working in any job you’re qualified to do.
  2. Clear, recent medical evidence must also support your application for heart attack disability benefits. You can help make this step easier by keeping a symptom diary showing how your health limits your daily activities. So, tell your doctor you’re applying for disability and need help filling out a Residual Functional Capacity form.
  3. Only people with enough recent work credits can qualify for SSD payments. In plain English, that means you worked at least 5 in the last 10 years while paying into Social Security.
  4. You must not currently get any other Social Security benefits when you apply for SSD. If you’re getting any other RSDI payments, you almost certainly won’t qualify for heart attack disability benefits.

The SSA wants you to fill out and submit at least 15-21 pages of information using 3-5 different forms. It can take longer than you might expect to get through all this paperwork. What’s more, a single blank field, writing in the margins, or stapling your forms together can get your claim denied.

How to Triple Your Odds for Benefit Approval

The best way to improve your odds of getting heart attack disability benefits is to work with an experienced disability lawyer. People who apply without one typically wait 18-24 months for their first benefit payment. However, the SSA awarded disability benefits to less than 1 in 3 people who applied since 2022.

If an attorney helps you apply, though, your odds of winning are three times higher vs. going it alone. Since all disability attorneys work on contingency, you pay $0 up front for expert SSD claim help. Denied benefits? Then you owe your lawyer no money at all. Best of all, you can get started with just one free phone call!

Ready to see if you may qualify for no-cost expert help? Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz now:

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Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.