Uncontrolled high blood pressure, or hypertension, can wreak havoc on your body as well as your ability to sleep, concentrate, and deal with stress. While it can have a profound effect on your ability to work, it is not typically enough to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on its own.
It is still possible for you to receive disability benefits though. These tips help you understand how to approach applying for disability with high blood pressure and the things you can do to increase your chances of being approved for benefits.
Thoroughly Document All of Your Medical Problems
High blood pressure is usually seen along with or as a complication of other serious medical conditions. Even if you are unable to qualify for disability based on your high blood pressure alone, thoroughly documenting all of your medical problems can increase your chances of approval.
The SSA takes an applicant’s full medical history and current health complications into account when evaluating eligibility. You must ensure your medical records and all of the details you include in your application support your assertion that you are unable to work.
Ensure Your Medical Records Accurately Reflect Failed Attempts at Controlling High Blood Pressure
A critical component of proving eligibility for SSD is showing the SSA that you have made repeated attempts to control your high blood pressure and that all of those attempts have failed.
Work closely with your doctor to formally document those attempts in your medical records. Attempts should include all of the medications you tied as well as the diet, exercise, and other lifestyle adjustments you made under the direction of your doctor to try to control your blood pressure.
Prove Your Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure Meets the SSA’s Duration Requirements
In order for a medical condition to meet the SSA’s basic eligibility requirements, it must either:
- have been present for a year
- be reasonably expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.
To get disability benefits for high blood pressure, you must prove to the SSA that the uncontrolled blood pressure issues you experience meet this basic eligibility criterion.
Thorough medical records document your history of uncontrolled high blood pressure. To prove your ongoing hypertension problems, or future uncontrolled high blood pressure, you must rely almost entirely on your doctor. He or she will need to provide a formal statement predicting that your hypertension issues will continue despite following prescribed therapies.
Hire an Attorney to Assist with Your Claim
Hypertension applications are typically reviewed under what is known as a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) analysis. The SSA only undertakes this process when a medical condition does not meet any of the standard disability listings.
Qualifying for benefits through RFC requires a well-documented case file and very thorough medical records. It also demands you provide the SSA with additional information about your daily activities and the way your symptoms affect your everyday life, including your ability to work. A Social Security attorney or disability advocate can help you build a strong case and potentially increase the likelihood you will get SSD benefits.
Understand the Process
Persistent high blood pressure or chronic hypertension can affect your ability to work, although in many cases, you may not even know you are suffering from it unless it has been diagnosed by your doctor. High blood pressure is rarely by itself an acceptable reason for obtaining SSD benefits, but this may not prevent you from applying. High blood pressure often accompanies other negative medical conditions and taken together these may be sufficient to prevent you from doing any meaningful work and therefore eligible for a benefit.
If you are unable to work because of your health disability you could be eligible for SSD benefits, but before you apply it is important to understand how the process works. An SSD benefit application can take many months before you are assessed and often results in a denial. This can be a stressful and demanding experience. The more you know about how to apply, the better, as it might cut down the time for an assessment to be completed and increase the chance of success.
Eligibility for Disability Benefits for High Blood Pressure
You need to have been suffering a total disability related to or including high blood pressure for the last 12 months or expect that you will be unable to work for the next 12 months because of your disability. You also need to have accumulated enough work credits through previous work history. The number of work credits you need depend on how much you earned, how long you worked and your age. You can earn up to 4 work credits a year through paying payroll tax.
Normally, your eligibility for receiving SSD benefits depends on your disability being listed in the SSA’s Blue Book and matches the exacting criteria in the listing. However, there is no specific reference to hypertension alone and normally other medical conditions in addition to hypertension are used in conjunction to prove eligibility for a benefit.
The most common way for eligibility to be approved is through completing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This may be done by the SSA’s adjudicator, but you can be proactive and have a RFC completed by your own doctor, too.
The adjudicator looks at the RFC and your medical records before coming to a conclusion about whether you are eligible for benefit or whether it is thought that you can continue working. It is common for applications to be denied, although you can appeal any such decision.
Completing the Initial Application for Disability Benefits for Hypertension
Because high blood pressure by itself is not listed as a recognized disability in the Blue Book, you are heavily dependent on the opinion of your doctor. As long as your doctor has been treating you for some time, he or she will be the best person to comment on your ability to work. The SSA will not accept written statements by themselves but will want to look at all the past medical records, including treatment for hypertension, test results and treatment.
They will also want to look at a completed RFC as a Blue Book listing is not available. Your own doctor is best placed to fill in a RFC form, which provides detailed evidence of just what you can and cannot do because of your medical condition and disability.
The results of the RFC will be examined together with your medical records, and consideration of your age, work experience, work history, skills and aptitude to learn a new skill.
After the initial application has been completed you may be asked to attend an interview in which you will be questioned about your disability and past work experience. You will be asked to provide your medical records and any other accompanying documentation which cannot easily be sent online. There is then normally a five month interval before any benefits can be approved, although in practice, it may be anywhere between 5 months and a year before a decision is made.
It is common for initial applications to be denied, although in many cases, an application may get through because the preparation has been particularly thorough.
Speak to a Qualified Attorney
Applying for SSD can be a long winded and complicated procedure. You will find that it can help to use an experienced SSA attorney to help prepare the initial application. The attorney will know whether you have sufficient documentation to convince the SSA adjudicators of your inability to work because of your disability.
Applications are commonly denied. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get a chance of obtaining a benefit but does mean that you need to apply. This is a more complicated procedure and may take months if not years to get through. Using a qualified SSA attorney may be necessary if you wish to go through the appeal process.