Heart Disease and Social Security Disability Benefits

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

Heart disease may be the basis for receiving Social Security Disability Benefits. It comes in many different forms, such as coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), congestive heart failure, cardiomegaly (enlarged heart). Some clients have angioplasty and stents; and they may have had by-pass surgery.

Recently, we represented a young man who had heart attacks at age 26 and 33. In addition to heart disease, he also had uncontrolled diabetes. He suffered from shortness of breath and fatigue. He could not tell if the fatigue came from heart disease or diabetes. Either way, he was unable to work.

We knew the client could no longer perform his past work as a stock person at the supermarket, so we needed to evaluate whether he could do any work based on his physical ability, age, education, and work history. The client’s doctor had told him not to work more than four hours a day at any kind of job, even an easy one where he could sit the whole time. The client had a high school education and had only done work that required a higher level of physical exertion. At the Social Security Disability hearing we were able to prove that the client could not work at any kind of job by a thorough questioning of the vocational expert whom the judge had called to testify at the hearing. The client was found disabled.

If you are suffering from heart disease, it is important to establish the necessary facts to prove your case. The key is often not the client’s actual diagnosis, but how the symptoms of the disease, or the effects of the medications, prevent the client from being able to sustain a job. It is often very important that opinions from a client’s doctors are obtained. Another is reading the medical records for documentation of symptoms and issues to support what the client is saying. In almost all cases, we are trying to prove that the client cannot maintain employment. However, how that is proven in each case is different.