A heart attack can result in a serious impairment. However, it is not necessarily disabling. Social Security has a strict set of guidelines regarding heart ailments. Social Security will consider your remaining functional capacity for work after your heart attack.
1. Your age can be a very important factor. If you are under age 50 and can still do some form of work such as clerical work then your heart ailment will probably not entitle you to benefits.
2. Your age can work in your favor. If you are over 55 with only a high school education and a past history of manual labor, then you would have a very good case for disability if your heart ailment now prevents you from doing manual labor.
3. Your past work experience is an important factor. As noted above, a past history of only manual labor can make your case for disability much easier.
4. Conversely, a past history of only clerical work may mean you can easily return to that type of work despite your heart attack. This is so because clerical work is usual considred very light work.
5. The skill level of your past work is also important. As a general rule the more skills you possess the more difficult it is going to be to obtain disability benefits. This is so because a skilled worker can transfer his / her skills to many different occupations many of which may be light enough to do even after a heart attack.
6. When it comes to a heart ailment, an opinion from a cardiologist regarding one 's functional abilities can be decisive in a disability case. But a simple statement that one is "disabled" is not enough. It is better if the physician prepares a comprehensive statement describing how one's abilities to lift, walk, sit, etc. are compromised by the patient's heart attack. In my cases I almost always have a Cardiac Functional Evaluation completed by the treating cardiologist or if one is not available then the claimant's primary treating physician will have to do the report.
7. The heart impairment listings are found at §4.01 of Social Security's Listing of Impairments. If a cardiologist says your impairment meets or equals one of these listings then your case for disability will be very strong.
8. An important measure of your remaining functional ability is a stress test. A cardiologist can measure your remaining functional capacity with this test. However, if your heart is too weak to take such a test then a cardiologist can also note this for you.
If you are denied on your initial application, you should consult an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability. You can review my other article on "How to Find the Best Virginia Social Disability Lawyer" for some tips on finding an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.
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