Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that can range in severity and may or may not produce symptoms. If chronic fibrillation significantly interferes with your ability to work, you may qualify for disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart, called the atria, beat rapidly and out of sync with the lower heart chambers, called the ventricles. This erratic heartbeat, or arrhythmia, can be an occasional occurrence or an ongoing, chronic condition that negatively affects blood flow. It can result in heart palpitations, weakness, shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting, and it can lead to heart failure or stroke. General treatment for atrial fibrillation usually involves medication or possibly a pacemaker.
What Causes Atrial Fibrillation?
The connection between the upper and lower heart chambers sometimes overloads with electrical signals and creates abnormal rhythms. The many possible causes of atrial fibrillation include abnormal heart valves, high blood pressure, congenital heart defects, overactive thyroid, heart attack, viral infections, stress from surgery or illness, lung diseases, sleep apnea, and exposure to tobacco, caffeine, alcohol or stimulant medications.
Does Atrial Fibrillation Qualify Me for Social Security?
It’s possible. Atrial fibrillation is classified with other arrhythmias, and there are several conditions to meet before receiving approval for disability payments. Know that fibrillation controlled by medication or other treatment will not qualify you.
If medication does not relieve the condition, the SSA will first review your current work status and your earnings. If your income exceeds certain limits, you will not qualify for disability. Next, your condition must be expected to last 12 months or more, and it must have a significant effect on your capacity to work. If this is the case, the SSA may classify your condition as severe.
Under a severe classification, the SSA will automatically approve your case if you meet all of the qualifying conditions on Listing 4.05. These include:
- Episodes that occur even while following a doctor’s treatment.
- An arrhythmia that causes fainting or near fainting at least three separate times in 12 successive months.
- An EKG that proves the condition is related to fainting or near fainting.
- An arrhythmia that is not caused by a reversible medical condition.
To prove that you meet these conditions, you’ll need to provide detailed medical records for 12 successive months, showing exams, lab results, EKG tests, treatment and response records, the names of places you were treated and all the procedures you’ve had.
If you don’t meet the conditions for automatic approval under Listing 4.05, a doctor can still verify that atrial fibrillation interferes significantly with your work by completing a Residual Functioning Capacity form. Frequent dizziness, chest pain, weakness or shortness of breath may also qualify, and the same may be true for an inability to crawl, climb or stoop due to your arrhythmia. Chronic mental illness, including anxiety or depression, and multiple physical medical conditions may also contribute. Proof of all medical treatments is still required.
If you don’t qualify for automatic approval, the SSA will carefully review all the records and forms you submit. Clear and complete documentation of your treatment and responses will help the SSA to determine your eligibility for Social Security payments. Qualified legal representation is available to help you through this sometimes complex and lengthy process.
To discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals, please call (215) 464-7200 or contact the attorneys of Chermol & Fishman, LLC. The initial consultation is free, and we never charge a fee until we win your case.