Heart Attack as A Disability: Understanding The Facts and Myths
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?
During American Heart Month, many organizations provide useful information about the identification and prevention of heart conditions. However, if you have already suffered a heart attack or have a cardiovascular condition, you may instead wonder if you can receive disability benefits for your condition.
DarrasLaw’s founding partner Frank N. Darras teamed 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.
Listen to the episode above, or read the show highlights below.
About heart disease
According to the American Heart Association, 16.5 million Americans, ages 20 and up, are currently living with coronary heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.9 million deaths each year. Furthermore, that number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
Cardiovascular disease refers to a variety of conditions involving narrowed or blocked blood vessels, which can lead to heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Conditions that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm are also considered forms of heart disease.
Heart disease is responsible for nearly one in ten new long-term disability insurance claims.
The CDC estimates that nearly half of Americans have at least one of the three factors for heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
Myth: Having a heart attack automatically qualifies you for disability.
Heart attacks vary in severity and many people who have them can go on to live healthy lives with minimal health complications. Even so, the American Heart Association estimates that heart attack sufferers 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 file a disability claim for conditions resulting from a heart attack.
While a heart attack itself is not considered a disabling condition, the many complications and 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 claim 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.