Winning Disability Benefits for Peripheral Artery Disease
One of the leading causes of disability is heart disease. One specific heart condition— peripheral artery disease, known as PAD for short—affects about 8 million Americans over 40 years old. PAD is caused by plaque buildup in the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. Severe peripheral artery disease can cause muscle pain or weakness and it can limit your ability to walk or climb stairs.
If you suffer from PAD and your impairment prevents you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security has a set of procedures in place to identify disabilities that are medically eligible for disability benefits. These procedures are published in a handbook known as the “Blue Book,” and it includes a list of various disabling conditions known as “listings.” Many heart conditions are listed in the Blue Book including a listing for severe peripheral artery disease, Listing 4.12. In most cases, to qualify for benefits for PAD, medical tests are necessary to determine the severity of the disease.
The exercise tolerance test is used to measure the heart’s performance during exertion. A patient is instructed to walk on a treadmill or ride a bike while the doctor records the activity of the heart using an electrocardiogram. The Doppler test uses ultrasound to observe blood flow in the legs as a patient walks on a treadmill. Because exercise tests may be dangerous for those with severe heart conditions, Social Security will not order these tests if it will put your health at risk.
If you don’t meet the requirements of the PAD listing, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you can prove that due to your limitations, you are unable to perform any job in the national economy, considering your age, education, and past work.
To qualify, you must demonstrate that your symptoms prevent you from sustaining full-time competitive employment on a consistent and reliable basis. All qualifying disabilities must be expected to last and keep you out of work for at least 12 months.
To prove that peripheral artery disease prevents you from maintaining fulltime employment, it is very important to ask your doctor to explain your medical situation, oftentimes using a form called the “Residual Functional Capacity” (RFC) form. The RFC form measures your physical abilities, and it allows your doctor to explain how your medical conditions limit you from working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the RFC form along with other medical evidence to decide whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
If you have other impairments in addition to PAD, you should also include these in your application for benefits. The SSA must take into consideration all of your impairments when deciding whether you qualify for disability benefits. (For more on this subject read our blog article: Do Multiple Disabilities Improve the Odds of Receiving Benefits?)
Do you have additional questions about winning disability benefits for heart conditions or about the disability application process? You can get the answers by contacting us at Nash Disability Law for free evaluation of your case.