More than 40% of deaths in the United States are caused from heart disease, a statistic which far outnumbers that of other dreaded diseases, including all of the forms of cancer combined.
Because of that, let's take a closer look at this this serious group of diseases to gain new understanding about their causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is another term for cardiovascular disease, or diseases which affect the cardiovascular system including the heart and its network of arteries, veins and capillaries.
The term cardiovascular disease is often used for coronary artery disease, the most common form of cardiovascular disease in the United States, and the condition in which blood vessel blockages create the potential for heart attacks and other heart problems.
Cardiovascular disease also refers to other conditions such as abnormal heart beats, infections, and defects.
The causes of heart disease vary depending on the specific condition, but include atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries due to plaque from fatty foods, high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as genetic factors such as birth defects.
Types of Symptoms
Often the symptoms of heart disease come on suddenly, in the form of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, but if detected early enough, can be treated to prevent further damage or risk of heart failure.
The most common symptoms of heart disease are chest pain, difficulty breathing, and pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the extremities due to insufficient blood flow.
Treatments for heart disease include diet and exercise, medications, blood thinners to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and when severe enough, surgery to remove blockages or treat defects.
Cardiovascular diseases can become severely disabling. If you or someone you know is suffering from a form of heart disease, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Cardiovascular disease is listed under Section 4 of the Blue Book Listing of Impairments and includes subcategories which list specific conditions the SSA recognizes as potentially disabling. Each condition lists the specific symptoms required to qualify as a disability.
Cardiovascular Diseases Listed in the Blue Book
- Chronic heart failure– occurs when the heart is unable to supply enough blood to the body because it has become weakened due to heart attacks or defects, faulty functioning of the heart’s ventricles, or high blood pressure. It often leads to severe fluid retention, known as congestive heart failure.
- Ischemic heart disease – occurs when the heart muscle is unable to get a sufficient blood supply; its usual cause is coronary heart disease.
- Recurrent arrhythmias – abnormal heart rates, either too fast or slow, which may cause fainting or cardiac arrest.
- Symptomatic congenital heart disease – birth defects in the heart which cause malfunctions.
- Heart transplant – heart replacement due to heart disease which qualifies as a disability up to 1 year.
- Aneurism of aorta or branches – swelling in the major arteries of the heart due to heart disease.
- Chronic venous insufficiency – circulation problem due to damaged veins, usually in the legs.
- Peripheral arterial disease – impaired function of outlying arteries.
If you have been severely affected by heart disease in the form of these conditions, you may qualify for disability benefits.
You might also want to seek out the help of a Social Security lawyer. They will help you get all of your medical documentation in order to give you the best chance of winning your case.
The requirements for Social Security disabilities also includes a financial criterion. That does not mean that candidates need to pay a certain amount of money to apply, it actually means that your salary and job background will decide which program(s) you will apply for. For example, a history of work showing repeated Social Security tax contributions may qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance.
On the other hand, you may be qualified for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you have a lack of both work history and income. It is also advised that you organize any documents you have on hand to demonstrate your condition to the SSA.
Residual Functional Capability for Heart Diseases
If the SSA decides that you do not meet Blue Book listing criteria, you may still be determined disabled based on your Residual Functional Capability (RFC). Given your physical limits the RFC explains the most you can do. You'll be given an RFC level of sedentary work, light work, or medium work based on the restrictions your doctor has given you. If SSA determines that you are restricted from performing any amount of full-time work based off your RFC, you may receive a medical vocational allowance.
It is important that you send all of your related medical documents, including medical evaluations, from your primary care provider and your cardiologist, to illustrate the severity of your physical disabilities.
The amount of movement that causes symptoms for you, such as exhaustion, breathing difficulty, or angina, is important to your RFC evaluation, and you should request your medical doctors to give guidance about your work-related limits, in particular your capacity to stand, sit, walk, carry, lean, stoop and climb.
How to Apply?
To file for SSDI, you can go online and apply on the SSA's website. Don't forget to include how your cardiac disease impacts your ability to exercise, work, and take care of your everyday needs in your submission. Should you have any other medical issues, please mention them in your form.
For example, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure are typical in people with heart failure or heart disease. In addition, it is not unusual for people who have had a heart attack to develop anxiety disorders. If you have experienced a panic attack, you should visit a psychologist or therapist and include information about your anxiety.