Applying for Social Security Disability after a Heart Attack in Virginia


You’re enjoying your day. Work is going well. It’s almost time to go home. Suddenly you start experiencing pain in your chest, shoulder, back, neck, or stomach. You wait for it to go away, but the pain seems to be getting worse. And now you’re sweating and feeling dizzy. A co-worker takes you to the ER, where you’re diagnosed with a heart attack. For at least the next year you’ll remain on beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and cholesterol lowering medication.



Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer heart attacks. Of those, more than 25 percent have had at least one prior heart attack. The damage from each heart attack accumulates, increasing the individual’s risk of permanent heart complications and even heart failure.


A heart attack is a major life event. But it will not qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits automatically. You must prove that your heart attack has kept you out of work for at least one year or that it will keep you out of work indefinitely. If you can prove this, you may qualify for SSD benefits. These benefits can help you cover your medical bills and other living expenses.


For more information on qualifying for Social Security Disability for a heart attack in Virginia, call or text Richmond disability lawyer and Virginia Beach SSD attorney Corey Pollard today: 804-251-1620 or 757-810-5614.


The Financial Cost of Suffering a Heart Attack and How Social Security Disability Benefits Can Help


A heart attack can put you out of work for weeks, months, or even indefinitely. Though some of you may have short term disability insurance, these benefits are paid at a fraction of your normal wages and stop after a few weeks. If you’re not able to return to work when these benefits stop, you’ll have to find a way to survive without income from work.


While losing income you’ll also face high medical bills from emergency treatment for your heart attack and follow up care. According to one study treatment for a mild heart attack can cost more than $35,000.00 in the first year alone, with costs continuing to climb as you receive prescription medication, diagnostics, and follow up care in the years to come. Social Security Disability benefits can help you recover financially following a heart attack.


Am I Eligible for SSD in Virginia?


The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) two most used disability programs are: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).


To be eligible for SSDI you must have earned enough work credits. You earn work credits by paying taxes into the Social Security system. Your age and number of years worked determines how many work credits you need to qualify for SSDI.


To be eligible for SSI you must prove that you’re disabled and that you have low or no income and assets.


Some of you may be eligible for both SSDI and SSI.


Does My Heart Attack Qualify Me for Social Security Disability Benefits in Virginia?


A heart attack by itself is often not enough to qualify for SSD benefits. This is because many heart attack victims are able to return to work within one year of the heart attack. The SSA will deny your claim if you do not miss at least 12 months from work.


You may qualify for SSD benefits if underlying heart disease or a related condition caused your heart attack. The most common cause of a heart attack, also referred to as myocardial infarction, is coronary artery disease (CAD). With coronary artery disease the arteries are blocked, which means that some of the heart muscles receive insufficient blood and oxygen. This in turn causes a heart attack.


After you file for SSD benefits based on a heart attack, the SSA will review its Listing of Impairments to determine whether you meet a listing for ischemic heart disease or chronic heart failure.


To meet the SSA’s disability listing for ischemic heart disease your medical records must show:


  • At least three separate episodes in a 12-month period in which a narrowing or blockage of the arteries requires surgical intervention, also called revascularization; OR
  • Narrowing of or blockage of the arteries AND impaired performance on an exercise tolerance test.


To meet the SSA’s disability listing for chronic heart failure your records must show:


  • The presence of systolic or diastolic failure; AND


  • Persistent symptoms of heart failure that limit your ability to complete daily activities of living or that cause symptoms such as fatigue; OR


  • Three or more separate episodes of acute congestive heart failure in a 12-month period requiring physician intervention for 12 hours or more; OR


  • Impaired performance on an exercise tolerance test.


If your heart failure requires a heart transplant, you will qualify for SSD benefits for at least one year after your transplant surgery.


Understanding the SSA’s Listing of Impairments can be difficult since it is written for medical professionals. A Virginia Social Security Disability attorney for heart attacks can help you build your case and get the benefits you need.


What Happens if My Heart Attack and Underlying Heart Condition Does not Meet the Criteria in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments?


If you do not meet a heart condition in the Listing of Impairments, you will have to show through your medical records and testimony that you are still eligible to receive SSD benefits. This is known as proving through your “residual functional capacity” or RFC that you’re disabled.


The SSA will send you forms to complete. These forms will ask for:


  • Information about your medical history
  • Contact information for all your medical providers
  • Information about your work history
  • Information about your activities of daily living
  • Information about your pain and functioning
  • Statements from close friends or family members about what they’ve observed


An unintentional mistake on one of these forms can result in the SSA denying your claim. Contact our Virginia heart attack disability attorney for help completing the forms. We’ll also coordinate with your medical providers so that we can try to win your case using doctor’s reports of treatment, symptoms, and medications, operative reports, diagnostic imaging such as MRIs and x-rays, and cardiovascular test results.


If your RFC analysis shows that you have limitations that keep you from returning to work, then you will receive SSD benefits under a medical vocational allowance. This means that though you do not meet a condition in the Listing of Impairments, the SSA has found that your heart attack prevents you from maintaining competitive employment on a full-time basis given your age, education, and work skills.


How to Apply for SSD for a Heart Attack


Your initial application for SSD benefits should be detailed and accurate. Most initial applications are denied, so you want to make sure that you have the documents you need to prove your case. We recommend having the following items when applying for disability for a heart attack:


  • Your medical records from the past five years as well as contact information for your healthcare providers
  • Financial records if you are applying for SSI
  • Personal information regarding your education, work history, and vocational and job training
  • A report from your doctor that covers at least six months of observations about your treatment and heart condition
  • Cardiovascular test results, like heart scans, stress tests, and EMGs
  • Surgical reports for any catheterization or angioplasty you’ve undergone.


The more supportive documents you have, the better for your heart attack disability case.


If you’re not approved at the initial level, don’t get frustrated. Just remember to call Corey Pollard, a disability lawyer representing heart attack claimants throughout Virginia through the SSD appeals process. Our team has helped hundreds of adults who have suffered heart attacks qualify for disability benefits in Virginia and Maryland. Call us today to see how we can help you get approved for SSD. We represent heart attack victims in and around Richmond, Virginia Beach, Fredericksburg, Fairfax, Charlottesville, and Roanoke.