Disability for Atrial Fibrillation

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Details About Disability Benefits for Atrial Fibrillation


Cardiac conditions are one of the most common life threatening medical complications that a person can experience. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that causes an erratic and often rapid heartbeat that can contribute to several other health risks. 

With this condition, the upper chambers of the heart either beat chaotically or entirely out of rhythm so that they are not beating in coordination with the lower chambers of the heart. The condition also increases the chances of having a stroke, heart failure, and other cardiovascular problems. It is a serious condition that typically requires regular medication, monitoring, and other treatment to control. 

When a person becomes disabled due to AFib for more than 12 months, they should seek legal help from an experienced disability attorney. They will help you to obtain benefits that are available to help support those suffering from disabling conditions. Before discussing benefits, let us discuss more about this disease.

People diagnosed with this condition often experience the following symptoms: 

  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Thumping in the chest
  • Faintness
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Sweat 

AFib is a type of arrhythmia. There are four types of atrial fibrillation: 

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation
  • Long-term persistent atrial fibrillation
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation

There is also a related condition called Nonvalvular AFib, but it is not caused by a problem with the heart valves. Rather, it is caused by things like high blood pressure or a dysfunctional thyroid gland.

An individual may experience similar symptoms with all of these conditions. The duration of irregular heart rhythms may vary. For example, with paroxysmal fibrillation individuals may experience only brief episodes of irregular rhythm a few times of year. 

On the other hand, long-term and permanent AFib can be serious and may increase the chances of further complications. When atrial fibrillation does not improve after trying various interventions to restore a normal heart rhythm, whether with medicines or other treatments, your atrial fibrillation is considered permanent.  

Is AFib a Disability?

Individuals diagnosed with atrial fibrillation often experience episodes of fainting and dizziness. In severe cases, it can increase the risk of stroke, which can be debilitating or life-threatening for people. Those suffering from AFib may find it difficult to continue normal activities of daily living or to maintain gainful employment. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages programs that aim at providing financial assistance to individuals suffering from a disabling medical condition. Many people diagnosed with AFib wonder whether it qualifies as a disability for SSA benefits. 

The SSA maintains a listing of disabling impairments and the criteria that must be met in order to establish entitlement to benefits. The listing is often referred to as the Blue Book. Recurrent arrhythmias have been listed in section 4.05. To qualify for disability benefits for AFib under the section 4.05 listing, an applicant must provide medical documentation that demonstrates the eligibility criteria has been met.  

Medical records should show the following criteria to meet the eligibility based on the Blue Book listing. You could be automatically approved for disability benefits if you meet all of these criteria: 

  • Your AFib is not related to a reversible cause, such as electrolyte abnormalities or medications; and
  • Your AFib is uncontrolled, meaning it does not respond to standard medical treatment; and
  • Your AFib causes recurrent episodes of cardiac syncope or near syncope (e.g. fainting or altered consciousness). Recurrent means that within a 12-month period, syncope occurs at least three times, with intervening periods of improvement, and it is clear that separate events are involved, despite treatment; and
  • The condition is documented by resting or ambulatory electrocardiography, or by other appropriate medically acceptable testing.

If you meet the criteria above, you may be approved for disability benefits,  but only if you have provided a complete and accurate application that includes supporting evidence, to include relevant medical documentation. You should contact a healthcare provider to discuss the criteria and conduct any necessary testing if you believe you are suffering from AFib. 

The medical practitioner will help you understand whether you meet this criteria or not. If your condition is less severe and can be controlled by medication, it may be difficult to be approved for benefits based on AFib alone. There are additional options for people suffering with a disability after 50. Different rules may apply to your claim for benefits. 

A knowledgeable attorney will help determine what your best options are. They will explain what information you need, help compile medical evidence, and work with the SSA to obtain a favorable decision on your behalf.

Can You Get Disability Benefits for AFib? 

To get approved for disability benefits for AFib, you must have relevant medical evidence to prove you meet the Blue Book or other SSA criteria. Here are some medical documents and other records you may want to gather if you are considering filing a claim for AFib and disability benefits:

  • Date when you began suffering from the condition
  • Prior cardiac history details and records
  • Full physical examination results
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) results
  • History of medications and prescribed treatment
  • Other diagnostic tests and lab reports

You should ensure that you have all these documents handy before beginning the application. You will also have to provide the name of the treating doctor or medical facility. You may also want to provide evidence if treatment is ineffective. An experienced Social Security Disability Attorney can help you file a strong claim for disability benefits.

What To Do if You Don’t Meet the Listing Requirements? 

You can still apply and be approved for disability benefits if you do not meet the Blue Book listing requirements. In that case, the Social Security Administration will consider how atrial fibrillation affects your personal and professional life. In addition, they will consider the amount of work you can still perform after being diagnosed with AFib. 

The SSA will calculate your RFC, or Residual Functional Capacity, to determine your eligibility. You may need to have a physician complete a RFC form for you. It should address how the condition affects your ability to perform day-to-day tasks. 

Make sure that all symptoms are documented on the RFC form. If you are suffering from any other physical impairments or a mental health disorder, you should include that with the RFC assessment. Providing all relevant evidence up front could help to improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits. 

You may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for atrial fibrillation, depending on your work history and financial circumstances. To be approved for SSDI, you must have paid Social Security taxes and have a qualifying work history. For SSI, your income and liabilities will be considered to determine eligibility. 

The SSA will decide your application for atrial fibrillation disabilitybased on the severity of your condition. When you have multiple symptoms, the chances of getting disability benefits often increase. 

You must make sure that you provide all the necessary medical documents and records to prove your disability. Not having enough evidence is one of the most common reasons why applications get denied.