Applying for Disability with high blood pressure

Along with various related back problems (degenerative disc disease, lower back pain, spinal stenosis, curvature of the spine), hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most commonly listed impairments on applications for disability.

Can you be approved on the basis of high blood pressure for Social Security Disability or SSI? Yes you can. And unlike a number of various physical and mental impairments, high blood pressure is given specific consideration in the social security administration's impairment listing manual.

Disability criteria for hypertension fall under section 4.03, titled Hypertensive Cardiovascular disease. However, this listing, like so many others, refers to the criteria designated in other listings. Basically, disability applicants with high blood pressure are evaluated under the SSA criteria for chronic heart failure and ischemic heart disease (another way of saying coronary artery disease).

More on: Applying for disability with Congestive Heart Failure, CHF

More on: Applying for disability with coronary artery disease

They are also evaluated according by reference to certain body organs that are typically affected by high blood pressure such as the heart (previously mentioned), the brain, the eyes, and the kidneys.

Should this be surprising? Not really. As I've said many times here before. In evaluating disability claims, the social security administration is not concerned with a specific diagnosis (in other words, the identification of a condition), but, rather with the functional limitations caused by having one or more conditions.

What follows is basic information on hypertension, a.k.a. high blood pressure:

Elevated blood pressure is not considered an illness, however the condition is treated because of its adverse effects upon organs such as the brain, kidneys, heart, eyes, and lungs. If an individual has persistent elevated blood pressure of 140/ 90, the diagnosis is hypertension.

Hypertension is categorized into two types: essential or primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.

Approximately ninety percent of all diagnosed cases of hypertension are considered to be essential hypertension. Essential hypertension is hypertension with no specific etiology, which affects adolescents and adults. Although the cause of essential hypertension is not known, there seems to be a correlation to obesity, cholesterol, and, occasionally diabetes mellitus.

Secondary hypertension is caused by another condition such as certain types of tumors (especially adrenal gland tumors) or kidney disease. Renal parenchymal disease causes about seventy percent of the secondary hypertension among children.

There are many risk factors associated with persistent hypertension, including stroke, aneurysms, cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, hypertensive chronic heart failure, hypertensive nephrology (chronic renal failure), and hypertensive retinopathy. Secondary hypertension is usually resolved by treating the underlying condition.

Treatment options for mild to moderate essential hypertension might include weight loss and exercise, however moderate to severe hypertension requires drug therapy.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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