Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I suffered a major heart attack two weeks ago and won’t be able to return to work for a while. I talked to the SSA and they made it sound like I would not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. I have worked for 30 years and paid into the system so I would have SSDI when I needed it. What gives? I am confused why I won’t be able to get the disability benefits I deserve.”
The CDC estimates that close to 750,000 individuals suffer from heart attacks each year. They also suggest that close to 210,000 of those individuals have had multiple attacks and may suffer from more severe conditions such as congenital heart failure.
Although a heart attack is a very serious health occurrence, in many cases, it will not be sufficient to win SSDI benefits. In fact, many workers find that with a few weeks or months of rest and rehabilitation they can return to work. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you would have to prove to win SSDI benefits for your heart attack.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is provided to workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Claimants must also have worked and earned work credits to be ensured for SSDI benefits.
With these requirements in mind, let’s take a closer look at why you might not qualify for SSDI benefits.
- Your condition will not last 12 continuous months.
The main reason you will probably be denied SSDI benefits is because your heart condition will not last 12 continuous months. Although you might be severely disabled now and not able to work, unless you have medical evidence to prove you cannot return to work for at least 12 continuous months the SSA will automatically deny your case.
- You do not have enough work credit to be insured for SSDI benefits.
You mentioned you had worked consistently for 30 years so this probably does not apply to you, but claimants who have not worked and have not paid taxes will not receive SSDI benefits, regardless of the severity of their health condition.
What will you have to prove to get SSDI for a heart attack?
Although many claimants will not qualify for SSDI due to one heart attack, there are some claimants who have a heart attack or other cardiovascular complications or diseases in conjunction with the heart attack which are permanently debilitating.
For example, you may have severe coronary artery disease which causes a heart attack and irreversible damage to your heart muscle. In this case you might qualify for SSDI benefits under the listing in the SSA Blue Book referred to as Ischemic Heart Disease. Keep in mind, having the diagnosis will not be enough. In fact, you will need medical records which prove you also suffer from narrowing or blockage of the arteries, fatigue from exertion, or at least 3 episodes within a 12-month period in which blockage required surgical intervention, fluid collecting in your lungs, severe fatigue, or inadequate oxygen getting to your brain.
A heart attack may not be enough to win SSDI benefits, but some heart conditions will qualify.