Like other heart conditions, atrial fibrillation symptoms can vary in severity. Some people may suffer few side effects and are able to continue working. Others, however, may find it difficult or impossible to make ends meet because they struggle to do many of the tasks associated with their job. If this sounds like you, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). This may include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The disability attorneys at Berger and Green know what the SSA is looking for when they evaluate an application for benefits. We can help you understand which programs you qualify for, review your application, and even help you appeal a denial of benefits. Call our office today at 412-661-1400 to schedule a time to talk with one of our Pittsburgh disability lawyers. We can help you get Social Security Disability (SSD) for atrial fibrillation.
When Does the SSA Consider Atrial Fibrillation a Disability?
The SSA outlines the criteria for qualifying for disability programs in a book of impairment listings called the Blue Book. The impairment listing and criteria that relate to atrial fibrillation are in Section 4.05 – Recurrent Arrhythmias.
Atrial fibrillation can cause a number of symptoms, including heart palpitations, chest pain, and even depression or anxiety. However, the SSA only considers certain people who suffer from fainting and dizziness as “disabled.”
The criteria for qualifying for benefits based on your atrial fibrillation include:
- It must not have a reversible cause;
- It must cause fainting or altered consciousness three or more times in a year;
- Your EKG must show the atrial fibrillation caused the fainting; and
- It must not be well-controlled by medication or a pacemaker.
If you are not sure you meet this criteria, schedule a time to discuss your health with your doctor and tell them you are thinking of applying for disability. They will be able to advise you if you meet the medical criteria in the Blue Book. They can also ensure your condition is well-documented. This is important because of the key role your medical records play in the disability determination process.
What Happens If My Atrial Fibrillation Does Not Meet the Criteria?
In addition to fainting, atrial fibrillation can cause other symptoms that make it difficult to work. These include intolerance to exercise, fatigue, and mental health concerns. However, the impairment listing for atrial fibrillation does not address these issues. This does not mean you cannot qualify for SSD benefits, but you will need to rely on your residual functional capacity (RFC) when you apply.
The SSA determines your RFC after analyzing your abilities. They look at your medical records and related documentation, collect information from your doctor, and may schedule an examination with an independent physician to evaluate your impairments. From this investigation, they will issue a statement about how long you can work, how frequently you can work, and the type of work you are capable of completing.
If their findings show you cannot work your current job, any job you previously worked, any job you qualify to work, or a job that requires no special skills, you will most likely meet the criteria to receive SSD benefits.
What Medical Evidence Does the SSA Need to Approve My Disability?
When we help you prepare your claim, we will ensure it includes contact information for all your doctors, specialists, and other care providers. When the claims examiner receives your file, they will request your medical records, imaging scans, test results, and other documentation to help them get a full picture of your condition. This is key in getting approval for benefits.
They will expect to see a full range of documents to support your diagnosis. This often includes:
- Any imaging tests, including MRIs, ultrasounds, or x-rays;
- Electrocardiogram results;
- Exercise tolerance test results;
- Blood test results;
- Echocardiogram results;
- Tilt table test results, if applicable;
- Documentation of your treatment, side effects, and outcomes; and
- Notes from your doctor about fainting episodes and other symptoms.
Are There Other Criteria for Getting Disability Benefits?
Before they will even evaluate your medical qualifications, the SSA will ensure you meet the other criteria for the program for which you are applying. If you do not meet these criteria, you will likely receive a technical denial of benefits. These requirements vary from program to program, but our attorneys can help you understand if you qualify.
SSDI bridges the gap between the date when you suffer a disabling injury or illness and when you reach retirement age. As such, this program is only open to workers. To qualify, you must have earned a certain number of work credits based on your age and you must meet certain work history requirements.
In addition, you need to have an earned income at or below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. For 2017, this limit is $1,170 per month. You can earn additional income, but it cannot come from a job you work. Investments or other income sources do not count against you for SSDI.
SSI is a program for low-income individuals and families with few assets. The program limits recipients to a monthly income of $735 for an individual and $1,103 for a couple in 2017. These income limits include both earned and unearned income. In addition, you will need to have less than $2,000 in assets—or $3,000 for a couple. There are a few exceptions to this total, including the value of your home and one vehicle.
What If the SSA Already Denied My Application?
If the SSA denied your initial claim for benefits, we are here to help you navigate the appeals process.
We can determine the reason behind your denial, collect evidence to counter it, and present your case to the assigned administrative law judge. Usually, we can get you approved for benefits during this hearing if you meet the qualifications. Rarely, we may need to continue fighting for the benefits you deserve.
How Can I Reach a Disability Attorney in Pittsburgh?
At Berger and Green, our disability lawyers can help you get the benefits you deserve based on your atrial fibrillation diagnosis and symptoms. We offer complimentary consultations and can help you no matter where you are in the claims process. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.