Heart Disease

The main issue in your heart disease Social Security disability case relates to how your medical condition impacts your ability to work.  For example, if you have a weak heart, you may have very little stamina, you may get tired easily, your medications make make you drowsy or nauseous.  You may feel heart palpitations that make you nervous and anxious, causing problems with attention and concentration.

All of these factors would serve to interfere with your capacity to perform work.  For example, stamina and exertion issues would eliminate jobs that require climbing stairs, lifting or carrying more than 5 lbs., or walking more than 5 minutes per hour.  Medication based drowsiness would eliminate jobs around hazardous machinery or at unprotected heights.  Heart palpitations and resulting anxiety would eliminate jobs that require even a minimal level of concentration.

So, when you think about your heart problems in the context of a Social Security disability case, you should consider how your specific problems that arise from your condition would prevent you from performing even a simple, unskilled job.

Winning Hearing Arguments in Heart Disease Cases

There are basically three ways to win a heart disease case.  Click on the links for more detail:

  1. meet a cardiovascular disease listing at 4.00 – the listing focuses on the medical diagnosis and the results of cardiovascular function testing more so than your capacity for activity.  Social Security presumes that an individual with measurable decline in heart function would have signficant function limitations.
  2. residual functional capacity – prove that your functional capacity for work has been so reduced by shortness of breath, chest pain, anxiety relating to future heart issues that you would not be a reliable employee
  3. meet a grid rule (generally limited to those over age 50 with a limited education and an unskilled work background)

In my experience, some of the other factors that judges look for when evaluating cardiac cases include:

  • long, solid work history
  • objective evidence of problems in your heart – such as your heart’s pumping capacity – even if the objective testing does not reveal impairment at “listing level.”
  • evidence from the medical record that prior treatment such as catheterization, stent placement, bypass surgery or medicine has not worked.
  • placement on a heart transplant list

Here are some case studies from recent cases I tried that involved heart disease :

Heart Disease case study #1: 58 year old female status post triple bypass, multiple catheterizations, and stent placement.  She experiences frequent pressure and chest pain, sharp pain over incision site and anxiety regarding likely future heart problems.

Heart Disease case study #2: 51 year old male with work background as a warehouse laborer, and congestive heart failure complicated by chronic kidney disease.

Heart Disease case study #3: 42 year old male with past work as heavy equipment mechanic, and ventricular tachycardia resulting in recurrent arrhythmias, syncope (passing out), dizziness, fatigue, vascular problems and frequent urination (due to meds).

Heart Disease case study #4: 47 year old male with past work as an electrician, truck driver and construction worker.  Client underwent 4x bypass 3+ years prior to hearing and remains fatigued, short of breath and experiencing chest pain and palpitations.  Likely new blockage in carotid artery.  Client still smokes against doctor’s orders.  Case complicated by severe knee damage and compressed spinal injury.

Heart Disease case study#5: 60 year old female with congestive heart failure, shortness of breath, limited exertional capacity, and significant medication side effects.

Heart Disease Case Study #6:  48 year old male with long work history suffered a severe heart attack, resulting in permanent heart damage and placement of pacemaker.  After two work attempts were not successful he applied for SSDI and was approved based on medical record and credible testimony.