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Can Pennsylvania Residents Suffering from Heart Conditions Secure Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security Disability benefits exist for individuals with severe heart conditions that prevent them from working.  Congestive heart failure, recurrent arrhythmias, and coronary artery diseases are examples of some conditions that may qualify an individual for benefits, under the “Blue Book” Listings of Impairments.  The Blue Book is officially called “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.” Criteria listed in the Blue Book will entitle claimants suffering from that disabling condition to Social Security Disability benefits. When individuals suffer from a condition specifically listed in the Blue Book, this inclusion does not guarantee they will be approved for benefits. However, it does demonstrate that the individual has suffered a disabling condition for a period of time that qualifies the individual for consideration by the Social Security Administration.

Heart conditions listed in the Blue Book are found in Section 4.00, described as disorders that affect the proper functioning of the heart or the circulatory system.  These impairments may be congenital or acquired, and the listings describe cardiovascular impairments based on symptoms, laboratory findings, and functional limitations.

According to the listings, the basic documentation necessary for the Social Security Administration to assess the duration and severity of the impairment includes detailed reports of medical history, laboratory studies, treatments, and physical examinations.

Common Conditions that May Qualify for Disability Benefits Under a Listing

Coronary Artery Disease

When calcium and fat deposits build up in arteries, the result is decreased blood flow to the heart. This is called atherosclerosis, a type of coronary artery disease. When arterial walls harden, arteriosclerosis can take place.  Often, heart attacks are caused by a combination of conditions.  Under Listing 4.04 for ischemic heart disease, coronary artery diseases is evaluated by the Social Security Administration.

Congestive Heart Failure

When the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body’s organs, blood returning to the heart will accumulate and result in congestion of the heart’s tissues.  Under the blue book listing for “chronic heart failure,” Social Security will evaluate this condition. Meeting this listing requires that a claimant have experienced systolic or diastolic heart failure and either be unable to perform daily living activities, have episodes (three or more) of acute congestive heart failure over one year, or fail an exercise tolerance test.

Aorta or Major Branch Aneurysm

When weak or damaged blood vessels cause the walls to bulge, the result is an aneurysm.  Aneurysms can take place in different locations within the body but are often found in the wall of the aorta.  A ruptured aneurysm can lead to death.

Social Security lists aorta or major branch aneurysms under listing 4.10.  Meeting this listing requires using medical imaging and proving that “dissection” of the artery has taken place (the lining of the artery separates from the arterial wall). Additionally, claimants must show that prescribed treatment cannot control the effects.

The Blue Book is complex, and criteria listings are specific in order to provide information for claimants who may need tests to confirm both their diagnosis and the severity of their condition.

An attorney can help you understand how to meet a disability qualification for a heart condition. At Needle Law, our skilled Social Security lawyers have decades of experience helping claimants seek benefits for medical conditions that prevent them from working.  Call or complete our online form to set up a free, complimentary consultation regarding your disability claim. We can be reached at 570-344-1266 or online.

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