Tachycardia and Filing for Disability

Tachycardia is a considered a valid physical medical condition to include on an application for SSD or SSI disability. This condition is covered under the classification cardiovascular impairments contained in SSA Blue Book listing 4.00 Cardiovacular System - Adult.

Cardiovascular system impairments are defined by Social Security as any disorder that affects the proper functioning of the heart or the circulatory system (i.e. arteries, veins, capillaries, and the lympahtic drainage). These disorders can be congenital or acquired.

Because Tachycardia is often an episodic type of impairment that can be the result of many things (stenuous exercise, fever, fear, anxiety, medications, anemia, or an overactive thyroid), it is not enough to simply have a diagnosis of tachycardia.

If a person does not meet the criteria of the cardiac impairment listing, medical treatment records will become very important. SSA likes to have a twelve month medical history when possible. SSA requires documentation to support your disability application that includes results of all heart or cardiovasular tests, imaging (CT scans, chest X-ray, echocardiogram, stress tests, etc) and also information from physicals, blood work, etc. The testing results should be within the past three to twelve months if possible.

How your medical records help your disability case

Notations in the medical records as to a person's limitations can allow a disability examiner or judge to get an overall idea of an individual's degree of limitations. It can also allow the decison-maker on a disability claim to determine if the claimant can return to their past work. If it is obvious that the claimant cannot return to their past work, the decision-maker can make a determination as to whether or not the claimant could do some type of other work.

The best medical records for disability are 1. records that are current and 2. records that show how your condition limits your ability to work. How current should your medical records be? To prove your claim as well as prove when your disability began, you obviously need older records from the time of your disability onset (note: proving your disability as far back as possible can have a dramatic effect on how much back pay you get). But, you also need at least some records that are not older than 90 days.

Even with the proper medical documentation, you still must prove that you are unable to perform any of your past work jobs you provided in your vocational work history and your are not able perform any other kind of work if your limitations, age, education, and jobs skills are considered. If SSA determines you are not able to do any kind of work you may be approved through a medical vocational allowance for disability.

These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.

  • How to apply for disability and the information that Social Security needs

  • Who will qualify for disability and what qualifying is based on

  • Requirements for disability - Qualifications Criteria for SSD and SSI

  • How to Prove you are disabled and win your disability benefits

  • Qualifying for disability benefits with Tachycardia or any condition

    Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

    This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

    In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.

    Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

    Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

    There are several reasons but here are just two:

    1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a doctor. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.

    Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between losing or winning a disability case at the hearing level.

    2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.

    Facts about Tachycardia

    1. Tachycardia means a resting heart beat rate that is faster than average for the individual's age. Most adults have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute, while an adult with tachycardia may experience significantly more beats per minute. This is caused by abnormal signals in the heart that control heart rate.

    2. Increased heart rate may cause limited oxygen to parts of the body, leading to dizziness and feeling light headed, fainting, shortness of breath and chest pain, and irregular heart beat (palpitations). Some people may not have any symptoms at all, but a doctor will notice the condition at a routine physical examination.

    3. Those with family history of tachycardia are more likely to develop the condition themselves, and older adults are more likely to have tachycardia than any other age group.

    4. Tachycardia can be dangerous, causing stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or sudden death. For this reason it is important to see a doctor if irregular heartbeat or other symptoms occur.

    5. Rapid heart rate tends to be episodic, so treatment is targeted at preventing and stopping episodes. Some people can control their tachycardia by doing simple movements called vagal maneuvers, including coughing or bearing down, and using ice on the face.

    6. Medications may be necessary if vagal maneuvers are ineffective. Some may be taken regularly as prevention and others may be used in the event of a tachycardia episode.

    7. Blood thinners are also sometimes prescribed in order to help prevent dangerous blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack.

    8. Prevention of tachycardia is very similar to the tactics for preventing heart disease. These include regular exercise, stress management, healthy eating habits and weight management, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, avoiding smoking and drugs, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and seeing a doctor for regular examinations.

    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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