Many different heart conditions and cardiac health issues can help people qualify for disability benefits in Arkansas. Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak is dedicated to assisting Arkansans who have been forced to stop work due to serious impairments get the benefits they need from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and other federal disability programs. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, explains more about whether people with a cardiac arrhythmia qualify for these benefits and how to begin receiving benefits for heart conditions in Arkansas.
Qualifying for SSDI in Arkansas
The Social Security Administration (SSA) only provides SSDI benefits to certain people who qualify based on non-medical criteria. In addition, the SSA will look at your condition itself to see if it qualifies on a medical basis, but you must also meet certain income limits and work requirements to qualify for SSDI. If you do not qualify for SSDI, SSI (supplemental security income) might be available instead.
The SSA looks at how much money you are able to make with your disability. If you can make enough money to support yourself, then the SSA will deny a claim for disability. This limit of “enough money” is known as the substantial gainful income (SGA) limit. The SGA limit is adjusted with inflation on a yearly basis. The SGA limit for 2020 is $1,260, and for 2021, it’s $1,310 a month for most individuals. If you are blind, the limit on SGA is increased to a monthly limit of $2,110 for 2020 and $2,190 for 2021. If you make less than this from various sources of income, you might still qualify as “disabled,” even with some level of income outside of the disability benefits you need.
Because SSDI is operated as an insurance program, workers usually must have paid into the program in order to get its benefits. Workers must have a sufficient number of “work credits” before they are able to draw on SSDI benefits. The work credit test is actually comprised of two tests: a recent work test and a lifetime work test. Under the overall work credit test, older workers typically need a greater number of work credits to get benefits, demonstrating that they have spent much of their adult life working and contributing Social Security taxes to fund the program. Under the recent work test, workers generally must have earned half of their work credits (typically 20 credits) within the last ten years.
Younger workers are likely to qualify with a lower number of credits. For instance, while a 56-year-old worker could need 34 credits to qualify for benefits, a 44-year-old worker could need only 22 credits to qualify. These work credits are equivalent to 8.5 and 5.5 years of work, respectively. Disabled Arkansans with no work history or no recent work history may be able to apply on a parent’s or spouse’s record instead.
How Can I Get SSDI Disability Benefits with a Cardiac Arrhythmia in Arkansas?
A disabled worker can qualify for disability benefits if they have a severe health condition that meets the SSA’s medical definition. The SSA has listing of conditions that qualify for disability in Arkansas that cover a wide range of medical conditions, but if the applicant’s condition is not listed, there may be other ways that they can still qualify. A “recurrent arrhythmia” would qualify for benefits if it meets the requirements of Listing 4.05 and is so severe that you cannot work because of it.
SSA’s Medical Definition of Recurrent Arrhythmia
For your condition to meet the SSA’s listed definition, you must show that it is caused by a non-reversible, long-term cause rather than an issue with medication or some other temporary issue. The arrhythmia must also be “recurrent” and “uncontrolled,” i.e., it cannot be part of an isolated event and it has to be something that treatment and medication has been unable to fix. You must also have undergone testing with a Holter monitor or some other equivalent testing to confirm the arrhythmia.
For the arrhythmia to qualify as a disability, it must result in “syncope” or “near syncope.” Many people with cardiac arrhythmias feel a periodic flutter or have angina that might interrupt their day, but the SSA only provides benefits when conditions are very severe. “Syncope” is fainting or passing out, and “near syncope” is the feeling of being close to passing out. These kinds of symptoms can be dangerous for many workers and would interfere with your ability to work in many situations. Proof of these symptoms helps show that your condition is severe and deserves SSDI benefits under the SSA’s rules.
If treatment has not yet been prescribed for your condition, the SSA will attempt to base its decision on the current objective medical evidence you have available, but it may also decide to order a consultative examination by a physician of their choosing to better understand your condition and its limitations. Additionally, the presence of an arrhythmia must be documented by electrocardiography or by another scientifically accepted method.
Other Qualifying Conditions
Even if you do not qualify for benefits on the basis of your arrhythmia condition alone, you may qualify for a medical-vocational allowance. A medical-vocational allowance can be awarded when your impairments mean that there is no past or alternate work available for you to perform. An experienced Social Security Disability Insurance attorney can ensure that you present sufficient evidence for all possible routes to a disability benefit award.
If you have an arrhythmia that is merely a symptom of another serious condition, you could also qualify for disability with that condition. The SSA lists 9 total cardiovascular conditions that could qualify a disabled Arkansan for disability coverage, including ischemic heart disease and other conditions that might include arrhythmia as a symptom or side-effect. Talk to a doctor and a Springdale, AR disability lawyer about your condition to see if it qualifies for disability benefits.
As alluded to above, a condition must be severe to qualify for benefits. Many people with cardiac arrhythmias do not qualify for disability because their condition is mild or does not interfere with their day-to-day abilities to work and care for themselves. The SSA will only pay SSDI and other disability benefits to people whose health conditions stop them from working. Only then are they officially considered “disabled.”
This means that much of your disability application process in Arkansas will involve proving to the SSA that your condition is indeed disabling. This can be done by providing information about what abilities your condition limits. With a cardiac arrhythmia that causes you to faint or pass out, this would clearly limit your ability to safely drive or operate heavy machinery, limiting you from performing many jobs. It may also mean you have to avoid high-stress positions or jobs, jobs that require alertness, and jobs that require strain on your body to prevent further cardiac issues.
In many cases, your doctor can also supply medical evidence and testing describing your limitations. This can go a long way toward showing the SSA where your limitations lie and why your condition should qualify as a disability. If they are unable to confirm that your case is severe and that your disability prevents you from working, then they will reject your application. It is important to work with an experienced disability lawyer who can make sure your application uses the right words and phrasing and provides the entirety of the information needed to determine your disability status.
Qualifying for SSDI Benefits as a Spouse or Child with a Cardiac Arrhythmia
Arrhythmias can affect anyone, not just older Arkansans who have a history of working and accruing work credits. Many families have one spouse who is a stay-at-home spouse or parent and another spouse that works. In these situations, the homemaker may also be able to qualify for disability benefits under SSDI by using their spouse’s record. Similarly, children who develop a disability like arrhythmia before the age of 22 might qualify on a parent’s record.
Using a spouse’s or parent’s record for disability benefits is a bit complex, and you should have a lawyer help you with the application. In cases where the primary worker whose record is being used for disability benefits is themselves disabled, they can often get additional benefits totaling up to an additional 50-80% of their usual benefits to support their spouse and children. Whether the primary worker is disabled or not, a spouse or a child under 22 might be able to claim benefits on that record as if they had worked enough credits to apply.
These benefits are even sometimes available to divorced spouses. Additionally, while the child needs to show that their arrhythmia started before they turned 22, they can often continue to stay on disability on their parent’s record beyond 22 in many cases. However, if they get married while on their parent’s disability record, the SSA expects them to switch to their spouse’s disability record instead, potentially causing an interruption or termination of benefits if the spouse does not have enough work credits.
This system is complex, so work with a Bella Vista, AR disability lawyer for help applying for disability benefits with a cardiac arrhythmia in Arkansas.
Call Our SSDI Attorneys for Help Applying for Disability in Arkansas with Arrhythmia
For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has fought for hardworking people who have suffered an accident or developed an illness that forced them to stop working. Ken is proud to stand up for Arkansans and help them get disability benefits for medical conditions and disabilities. To schedule a free and confidential consultation about your disability claim, call (479) 316-0438 today.