If you suffer from syncope because of a heart or central nervous system issue, you may qualify for disability benefits. Syncope—and the chronic fainting it causes—can make it difficult or impossible to get or keep a job. This leaves Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as your best options to make ends meet.
At Berger and Green, our Pittsburgh lawyers know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to see to award Social Security Disability (SSD) for syncope. We can review your claim and ensure you provided all the necessary information before you apply for disability benefits. We can also help you navigate the appeals process if you already received a denial. Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a free claim evaluation.
How Can I Show My Syncope Is Disabling?
The SSA requires you to meet strict guidelines to get benefits, including providing medical documentation that you suffer from a long-term, total disability. Your impairment must last a year or more or be expected to last a year or more, or be a terminal condition.
In addition, your medical records need to show you have a qualifying impairment. This can happen by meeting criteria under the applicable section of the SSA’s master list of impairments, called the Blue Book, or by having a residual functional capacity (RFC) that shows you cannot work.
The first thing the SSA will look at is whether you meet one or more of the impairment listings in the Blue Book. While syncope itself does not have a listing, two of the most common causes of chronic fainting do. This includes:
- Autonomic dysfunctions, which qualify for benefits under Section 11.00; and
- Arrhythmias, which qualify in Section 4.05 of the Blue Book.
Using information from your doctor, we can help you understand if you meet the medical criteria under either of these listings. Your doctor can help throughout the application process by ensuring your condition is well-documented in your medical records. He or she should run all necessary tests and order required imaging scans. If you believe you qualify and you have a well-documented condition, we can review your application and offer you advice based on our experience handling hundreds of qualifying claims.
What If I Do Not Suffer From a Condition in the Blue Book?
You may be able to qualify for disability based on your syncope symptoms even if you do not meet one of the impairment listings. This is possible through an RFC evaluation. This evaluation involves a review of your medical records, an exam by your doctor, or a consultative medical examination with an SSA-appointed physician. The doctor administering the exam will ask you to do a number of everyday tasks before completing a worksheet to document your abilities.
If this assessment shows you cannot work any job you qualify for, you may be eligible for benefits. Our attorneys can help you through the RFC process so you can qualify for disability benefits.
What Are the Other Criteria for Getting SSDI and SSI Benefits?
Before the SSA will make a determination on your medical qualifications, employees at the local Social Security field office will review your application to ensure you meet the technical qualifications for the SSDI or SSI program. Each program has its own criteria you must meet before you can move on to the next step in the approval process.
Criteria to Qualify for SSDI Benefits
The requirements of the SSDI program deal with your work history. To draw benefits, you must earn below the current substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit and have earned a set number of work credits. While SSDI is not an income-based program, it does require you to suffer from a total disability. One way the SSA ensures you cannot work is by enforcing the SGA limit on income earned from working.
Criteria to Draw SSI Benefits
SSI, on the other hand, is an income-based program. Only applicants who meet the SSA’s strict limits on monthly income and personal assets qualify for benefits under the program. This income limit includes not only income earned from work, but investments and other types of unearned income. You do not need to have a verified work history to qualify for this program, but income and asset limits are so low than many people cannot meet the requirements to draw benefits.
We can help you evaluate your situation and determine if you meet the technical criteria for either of these programs.
Can I Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits?
There are a number of reasons the SSA denies applications for disability. Some of the most common include:
- Incomplete medical files;
- A lack of proof of a qualifying impairment in the medical documentation; and
- Failure to meet the program’s requirements, resulting in a technical denial.
If the SSA denied your initial claim, we can help you file an appeal and get the decision overturned. Call us as soon as possible after you receive your denial letter, so we can go to work for you. We will act quickly to request an appeals hearing on your behalf.
Before your hearing, we will investigate your case and determine why you did not receive approval. Then, we can collect evidence and build a case to get the denial overturned. When the date of your hearing arrives, we will represent you in front of the administrative law judge. In most cases, we can present evidence on behalf of qualifying clients in this hearing and get them approved. Occasionally, we need to continue the appeals process to get the benefits a client needs. If your case is appropriate for appeal, we will continue to fight for your SSDI or SSI benefits, as well as the back pay owed to you.
How Can I Talk to a Lawyer About My Disability Claim?
The Berger and Green team can help you through the disability process by reviewing your claim and fighting for all of the benefits you deserve based on your syncope symptoms. Whether you are applying for the first time or appealing a denial, we can help. Call our Pittsburgh-area office at 412-661-1400 for a free case review.