Is AFib A Disability?
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 benefits. Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a strict procedure in this process.
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, occurs when the heart’s two upper chambers, called the atria, beat rapidly. Along with this, the beats become out of sync with the lower heart chambers, known as 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, leading to heart failure or stroke. General treatment for AFib usually involves medication or possibly a pacemaker.
Many people do not know much about AFib and disability benefits. Hence, they never think about applying for SSDI/SSI benefits and face many troubles in facing challenges due to it. If you any disease has landed you in a disabled condition for at least 12 months, you may qualify for benefits.
Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms
An erratic heartbeat, or arrhythmia, is the main symptom of atrial fibrillation. However, additional symptoms may be present in conjunction with the arrhythmia. These may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Some people may feel no symptoms at all and may not be aware that their heart is fibrillating. Most, though, will be aware that something is awry when the heart begins beating rapidly.
Types of Atrial Fibrillation
Not all types of atrial fibrillation disability can qualify you for disability benefits. Hence, it is necessary to know related details before applying. There are various types of atrial fibrillation. In 2014, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology determined that;
You can assess the kind of AFib a patient has, by ascertaining which of four types of arrhythmia the patient may present.
By determining about four types of arrhythmia in patient, they can break down the number of atrial fibrillation types to four. The first four in the following list are the types found in the report.
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: This type of AFib is the least severe. While presenting any of the symptoms associated with this condition warrants a visit to the doctor’s office. The paroxysmal arrhythmia typically lasts less than a week. The arrhythmia often comes and goes, but can be brought on again by stressors and other lifestyle choices.
Persistent atrial fibrillation: This type lasts longer than paroxysmal AFib. It may need to be treated with medicine to keep it under control. Sometimes a more severe treatment is necessary. This can be electrical cardioversion. Here low-voltage electricity is used to restart the heart’s rhythm to force it to go back to normal.
Long-standing atrial fibrillation: If the arrhythmia lasts for more than a year without stopping, the AFib can be long-standing. The treatment that may be successful with persistent AFib will probably not work with this type. If a person is diagnosed with long-standing AFib, there’s a good chance that there’s structural damage to the heart.
Permanent atrial fibrillation: Once the arrhythmia is chronic, the AFib is considered to be permanent. With this type of AFib, treatment is ineffective. There’s a much higher risk of stroke or another cardiac attack once it becomes chronic.
A long-term plan with medication is typically the best course of action. We are saying this because it stabilizes the heart rate and minimizes the major cardiac risks.
Valvular atrial fibrillation: When a problem with the heart valve is what’s causing the arrhythmia, it results in valvular AFib. A While a pre-existing heart valve disorder may cause this type of AFib. He/she may develop this type of condition if they have a prosthetic or artificial valve. Stabilizing the heart rate and minimizing blood clots are typically the best course of treatment for this type of atrial fibrillation.
Nonvalvular atrial fibrillation: This type of AFib develops in people who don’t have heart valve problems. Nonvalvular AFib may be caused by high blood pressure or other lifestyle choices. Treatment can either come in the form of medication or procedures like cardioversion.
Atrial fibrillation with the rapid ventricular response (AFib with RVR): It is when an arrhythmia in the atria, or top two chambers of the heart occurs at the same time. Professionals may also see arrhythmia in the ventricles, bottom two chambers of the heart, or atrial fibrillation with the rapid ventricular response (or AFib with RVR).
This type can have minor symptoms like shortness of breath, but can also lead to stroke. Stabilizing the heart rate is the main course of treatment for this condition. But this procedure is necessary for more severe cases like the other types.
Regardless of the type, if you feel your heart beating irregularly, you should see a doctor. While this condition can start from a paroxysmal arrhythmia, it can escalate to a more severe atrial fibrillation.
The disability benefits for AFib is determined through a strict process. Social Security Administration follows every norm for all the applicants to verify the level of disability. They do this to assure that only deserved people receive the benefits to manage challenging situations.
Atrial Flutter vs. Atrial Fibrillation.
While both conditions involve arrhythmias, a person with an atrial flutter does not necessarily have an irregular heartbeat. With AFib, the atria beat out of sync with the ventricles, which causes the erratic heartbeat. With atrial flutter, the atria and the ventricles are in sync, but the atria beat faster than the ventricles.
The heartbeats associated with atrial flutter may go something like this: the atria may beat two times for every ventricles’ beat. The atria’s rapid beat could happen multiple times. But regardless of the number of times, it’s always more than that of the ventricles. The best way to tell the difference between atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation is; through an EKG.
Atrial Fibrillation vs. Ventricular Fibrillation.
Once again, both conditions have arrhythmia in common. Ventricular fibrillation, or VFib, is opposite in the way it presents the arrhythmia. The irregularity of VFib occurs in the ventricles, while the abnormality of AFib occurs in the atria.
Ventricular fibrillation, however, is more severe than atrial fibrillation. VFib presents an immediate threat to a patient’s life, while AFib is a gradual threat to one’s life. This is because the erratic heartbeats don’t allow enough blood to be pumped to the arteries.
Atrial Fibrillation Diagnosis.
When patients tell their doctor that they’re experiencing irregular heartbeats, it’s a good indication that some fibrillation is happening. However, to diagnose the exact type will need to be done by physical examination and tests.
Some of the tests that doctor may suggest are:
EKG: This is a test that allows doctors to see the heart’s activity. This should allow doctors to see a pattern that indicates AFib. However, to diagnose AFib, the arrhythmia has to happen at the time of the EKG. If it doesn’t, the doctor may ask the patient to wear a Holter monitor. It is to see if it can detect the arrhythmia.
Holter Monitor: A Holter or event, the monitor is a portable machine that records the heart’s activity on the go. Doctors may ask their patients where it is for a full 24-hours or more to detect the irregularity. If this still doesn’t work, doctors may try to simulate an episode by having the patient undergo a stress test.
Stress Test: This test requires the patient to exercise to elevate the heart rate and force it to work hard. Since stress can sometimes trigger AFib, this could be a quick way for doctors to diagnose this condition.
Other tests doctors may perform to diagnose this condition further are echocardiograms, chest x-rays, or blood tests. These tests may help diagnose the exact type of AFib the patient may have and its severity.
Atrial Fibrillation Causes.
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.
- Exposure to tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, or stimulant medications.
The cause of atrial fibrillation may differ depending on the type of AFib the patient presents. For example, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation could cause my lifestyle habits or stress. This can happen while valvular AFib is caused by a heart valve problem.
Atrial Fibrillation Treatment.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation is going to depend on the type a patient was diagnosed with. The most critical treatment course for this condition is;
To stabilize the heart rate and decrease the chance of a stroke or heart attack from occurring.
These objectives can typically be accomplished with medication assistance, but medical procedures may be necessary if medication is not successful. Some of these medical procedures may include:
Ablation: In this procedure, the patient is first sedated carefully. Then the surgeon guides a flexible, thin tube to the area of the heart that’s causing the irregularity to occur. Once the tube has reached the trouble spot, the surgeon will either burn or freeze the tissue in that area. It is done to help prevent the arrhythmia from happening again.
Electrical Cardioversion: This procedure attempts to reset the heart’s regular rhythm by sending an electrical shock to the heart through patches. (These patches are attached to the patient’s chest). The patient is sedated while this procedure is taking place. Once the rhythm is stabilized, doctors can continue treating the AFib with long-term medication. This procedure is not meant to be a permanent fix.
Pacemakers: A permanent pacemaker can be surgically placed. It is done to consistently send electrical signals to the heart to regulate its rate. To seek disability benefits for AFib, you must provide all the needful medical documents to show your disability extent. Be it the document of tests done for diagnosis or for treatment of AFib; you must have all the documents. They can make your claim strong, and you can get the approval faster.
Atrial Fibrillation Natural Treatment-
Most cases of AFib will need to be treated by different types of medical intervention. But the type of AFib that’s caused by lifestyle habits can be treated naturally by changing those habits.
This may include exercising, quitting smoking, eating healthy foods, destressing, and drinking little to no alcohol or caffeine. If natural treatment doesn’t stop the arrhythmia, further treatment will be necessary.
Can You Get Disability for AFib?
Yes, it is possible if you can show all proves in favor of your long-term disability due to AFib. 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 treatments will not qualify you.
If medication does not relieve the condition, the SSA will first review your current work status and earnings. If your income exceeds certain limits, you will not qualify for atrial fibrillation 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. So, under a strict classification, if you meet all of the qualifying conditions on Listing 4.05, SSA can approve your application. 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 your disability, you’ll need to provide detailed medical records for 12 successive months. You will also have to show the lab results, EKG tests, treatment and response records, Etc. Even the names of places you were treated, and all the procedures you’ve had also holds importance in this process.
Suppose you don’t meet the conditions for automatic approval for disability for AFib, under Listing 4.05. In that case, a doctor can still verify that atrial fibrillation interferes significantly with your work. He/she will do this by completing a Residual Functioning Capacity form.
Frequent dizziness, chest pain, weakness, or shortness of breath may also qualify you for the benefits. Some more reasons like an inability to crawl, climb, or stoop due to your arrhythmia can also be reasons for your eligibility.
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.
Please call (215) 464-7200 or contact our attorneys using the form below to discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals.
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