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Heart Attack as A Disability: Understanding The Facts and Myths

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February is American Heart Month, so you've probably seen lots of news about identification and prevention of heart conditions. But what happens if you've already had a heart attack?

Many people wonder if they can receive disability benefits for the aftereffects of a heart attack. In this podcast episode, we team up with Gary Pozsik of Health, Wealth, and Happiness to address the common myths and facts about filing for disability benefits due to a heart attack.

Show highlights

Myth: Having a heart attack automatically qualifies you for disability.

Heart attacks very in severity and many people who suffer them often go on to live healthy lives with minimal health complications.

The American Heart Association estimates that a person who suffers a heart attack may miss anywhere from two weeks to three months of work.

Some people may suffer lasting symptoms or develop new conditions as a result of a heart attack, making them unable to work for an extended period of time or at all.

However, having a heart attack does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits, even if you are unable to work.

Fact: You can apply for disability benefits for conditions resulting from a heart attack.

While a heart attack itself is not considered a disabling condition, the many complications/conditions that result from having one may qualify you for disability benefits.

For example, if you develop heart failure, arrhythmia, or other conditions due to your coronary heart disease, you may be able to seek disability benefits for those conditions if they prevent you from working.

Myth: My medical records are enough to prove my heart condition is disabling.

When determining if you're healthy enough to work or if you should receive disability benefits, insurance companies will closely examine your medical records. Unfortunately, medical records rarely depict a complete picture of your health.

Insurers often ignore your symptoms and rely on "objective" tests, like a stress test or echocardiogram, to determine your true disability. However, a normal cardiac test result does not always mean you are fit to work.

These disabling symptoms are often ignored by insurance companies:

  • Fatigue, disrupted sleep, lack of focus
  • The effects of workplace stress
  • Serious side effects caused by heart disease medications

The challenge to proving you are disabled is that the measurement of your pain is considered subjective.

Fact: There are steps you can take to overcome these disability claim obstacles.

While it can be difficult to collect long-term disability insurance benefits for a heart condition, it is not impossible. Here are steps to help you bolster your clain for benefits:

Do research on your insurance company

Each insurance company has different tactics they rely on to delay or deny claims; do your homework and know what to anticipate when filing your claim.

Talk with your cardiologist and ensure they are willing to advocate for you

Make sure your cardiologist will help you present your case to the insurance company, as their professional opinion is tantamount to a successful claim.

Visit your cardiologist often to ensure you receive consistent care and make sure they record your symptoms, such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fatigue, weakness and pain.

    Keep a pain/symptom diary and share it with your cardiologist

      Having a journal that logs your pain and symptoms on a daily basis may help your claim. Although insurers try to ignore symptoms that cannot be proven with objective testing,  the combination of your doctor's records and your personal notes detailing the same symptoms can help your doctor support your disability claim.

      Consult an expert disability attorney

      While many claimants choose to fight their insurance company on their own, you may consider consulting a disability insurance attorney who can help you through the particulars of filing a claim or appealing a denial.

      Experienced disability attorneys will know the tricks that insurance companies will use to deny you and know how to fight them.

      Consult a top rated disability insurance attorney that offers free services, such as free consultation, policy analysis and claim help, to determine how to proceed with your case.

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