Each year, around 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. However, over the past few decades, heart attack deaths have decreased to about 10% of patients, with the majority continuing to live healthy lives after their incident. This can make it hard to get benefits for a heart attack, and may result in an initial denial of your claim. But, if you so choose, the journey does not have to end here.
Potential Problems When Applying After a Heart Attack
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) examines disability applications, they compare an applicant’s diagnosis to it’s entry in the Blue Book. Because heart attacks (or “myocardial infarctions”) can have a variety of effects on the heart and body, heart attacks can qualify under many of the Blue Book’s cardiovascular listings. Some reasons your application may have been denied include:
1. You applied too close to the date of your heart attack. Many people who live through their heart attacks heal rather well and can return to their normal lives. It can be difficult to tell how the healing process will affect each person, so the SSA will only evaluate applicants who are still experiencing severe conditions more than three months after their heart attack.
2. Your symptoms did not qualify under a separate Blue Book listing. Myocardial infarctions can technically fall under ischemic heart disease, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, or a variety of other heart conditions, depending on your symptoms. Each has a detailed listing in the Blue Book with testing and performance requirements. To see if you may have missed the mark in a listing, consult with your physician to compare your diagnosis to the Blue Book listing.
Your Next Step: Scheduling an ALJ Hearing
The best chance you have at receiving benefits after an initial denial is to schedule a hearing with an administrative law judge, or ALJ. This can be done by visiting your nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). This is usually separate from normal Social Security offices, but you can contact your local SS office or use the internet to locate your nearest ODAR.
During an ALJ hearing, it is important that you present as much evidence as possible regarding your case. Especially in regards to heart attacks, your ALJ will be looking for evidence proving that your condition will last for at least 12 months since onset (the date of your heart attack) or be expected to result in death. The best way to prove this is with as much medical testing as you can get, especially tests like EKGs, blood tests, or MRIs taken regularly since your heart attack to show the progression of your condition. You can also include testimonies from your physician, a physical therapist, or from anyone that can attest to the way your heart attack limits you on a daily basis.
Considering a Disability Attorney
Because heart attack cases can be difficult to win, it may be wise consider a free consultation with a disability attorney. Their services can help you to build a case with strong evidence that demonstrates your need for benefits. Due to federal regulations, disability attorneys are also unable to take payment for their services unless they win you your case. Contact a local attorney in your area to discuss your case and see if their services may be right for you.