Can I Qualify for Disability Benefits with a Cardiovascular Disease?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 61.1 million people in the United States report having a disability. In other words, almost one in five Americans are disabled. With almost 26% of the country’s population living with some form of disability, many have wondered the same question: could my disability qualify me to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration? More specifically, can you qualify for disability benefits if you suffer from cardiovascular disease?

Heart conditions are among the leading reasons people apply for disability benefits in the United States. The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a list of qualifying medical conditions and their requirements. This publication is commonly known as the “Blue Book.” Under the SSA’s listings, Section 4 focuses on cardiovascular conditions.

Our Philadelphia disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane are familiar with the challenges and difficulties facing someone applying for disability benefits. If you have any questions about your cardiovascular condition or qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits for another disorder, call (215) 515-2954 in Pennsylvania or (609) 557-3081 if you live in New Jersey.

Cardiovascular Diseases and Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania

The cardiovascular system is also referred to as the circulatory system. Whichever term you prefer, the function of this crucial anatomical system is the same: efficiently pumping substances around your body.

While the cardiovascular system is primarily associated with blood and the heart, it also circulates lymph, oxygen, and hormones. Additionally, the cardiovascular system is responsible for regulating homeostasis and body temperature.

Cardiovascular disease is often referred to as “heart disease.” Also included under this umbrella term are other diseases that impact the cardiovascular system, including your heart and the vast network of arteries, veins, and capillaries.

Coronary artery disease is one of the most common forms of heart disease in the country. Someone suffering from this condition will have significant blockages in their blood vessels that could result in a heart attack or other medical complications. Other cardiovascular conditions include abnormal heartbeats, defects, or infections.

The cause of cardiovascular disease varies depending on your condition. However, heart disease is often related to fatty food intake, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, or congenital disabilities.

Heart Conditions That Qualify for Disability Benefits

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2020, heart disease caused 690,000 deaths — more than cancer, stroke, or diabetes. However, there are numerous subcategories of heart disease.

Under Section 4.00 of the official Listing of Impairments, the SSA may consider all of the following heart conditions as qualifying conditions for disability benefits:

Chronic Heart Failure

This condition occurs when your heart is unable to supply a sufficient amount of blood to your body. This usually results from the heart becoming weakened due to other illnesses, defects, or a heart attack. When the heart’s ventricles fail to function properly, it could lead to fluid retention, also called congestive heart failure.

Ischemic Heart Disease

This disease affects the heart muscle, making it impossible to supply the body with enough blood. Ischemic heart disease is a leading cause of coronary heart disease.

Recurrent Arrhythmias

This condition occurs when you experience abnormal heart rates. Depending on the cause, your heart rate could be either too slow or fast. This condition often results in fainting or cardiac arrest.

Aneurism of Aorta

A common condition associated with heart disease is the swelling of your major arteries.

Peripheral Arterial Disease

This condition affects the flow of blood due to damaged arteries.

Congenital Heart Disease

Symptomatic congenital heart disease could result from a congenital disability in your heart that causes it to malfunction.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

This condition usually impacts your blood circulation in your legs due to damaged veins.

Heart Transplant

If you have undergone a heart transplant because of your condition, you could qualify for disability benefits for up to one year.

Unfortunately, simply having one of these conditions is not automatically “enough” to guarantee disability benefits. The SSA also requires that:

  • Your condition has lasted (or will last) for at least one year.
  • Your condition is severe enough to prohibit you from working.

In addition to these heart conditions, the SSA will also consider a heart transplant as a potential qualifier for disability benefits, provided the applicant submits their claim within one year of receiving the transplant surgery.

Residual Functional Capability (RFC) for Cardiovascular Diseases

Some heart conditions will not meet the listed criteria in the SSA’s Blue Book. Nonetheless, you could still qualify for disability benefits based on your residual functional capability.

RFC is used to gauge your physical limitations in relation to your work-related duties. If you are suffering from cardiovascular disease, you could be given a level of work that reflects your current capabilities. For example, you might require light work, medium work, or sedentary work based on the restrictions imposed by your doctor. If the SSA determines that your RFC prohibits you from performing the duties required for full-time employment, you might receive a medical-vocational allowance (MVA).

When preparing an application for disability benefits, whether you meet the required criteria or are seeking a medical vocation allowance, it is critical to provide the SSA with sufficient medical records, documentation, and evidence to support your claim. This is one of the many areas where our experienced Delaware County (Delco) disability lawyers can assist you. If you want to receive benefits, you must work closely with your primary doctor and cardiologist to establish the severity of your physical limitations.

For example, your RFC could indicate that your condition restricts you because you suffer from breathing difficulties, exhaustion, or angina related to your cardiovascular illness. To receive an MVA, your doctor should prepare a medical source statement detailing your inability to walk, stand, sit, or otherwise perform the duties associated with your job.

Work History and Cardiovascular Disease

Qualifying for Social Security benefits also includes a financial requirement. You do not have to have made a specific amount of money to qualify for benefits. However, your work history will impact the type of disability benefits you might be eligible for.

For example, if you have been working for years and have paid into the Social Security system, you could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). As the name implies, SSDI functions as an insurance policy for workers who are no longer able to work because of their cardiovascular condition. When you meet with our Pennsylvania disability lawyers, we will carefully review your work history to determine if you earned enough work credits to be eligible for SSDI.

Not every disabled person in the country has a long work history. If you have not paid into the Social Security system, or if you have not worked long enough before the onset of your disability, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is for people with limited income and resources, so there is an asset threshold you must meet. Our Bucks County SSDI lawyers will review all the necessary requirements.

What Vascular Conditions Qualify Me for Disability?

While cardiovascular disease is most often associated with a heart condition, the veins and arteries can also be affected by illness. Under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments for the cardiovascular system, the following additional conditions may qualify you for Pennsylvania disability benefits:

  • Aneurysm of an Aorta (or other major branches)
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease

Call Our Disability Lawyers in Pennsylvania Today

If you would like to arrange a free case evaluation with one of the highly experienced Chester County disability attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane, call our law offices at (609) 557-3081 in New Jersey or (215) 515-2954 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online today.