Heart disease is a serious condition that affects a large portion of the American population. According to the CDC, it is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the US. Approximately 1 in 5 deaths in the US during 2020 was caused by heart disease. If your heart disease is making it difficult or impossible for you to perform at work, your long-term disability insurance may be able to help you. However, navigating the complicated process for long-term disability claims can be difficult without proper legal help. In order to have a higher likelihood of approval, work with an experienced disability attorney. They can help you cultivate important documents and compile a solid claim to help increase your chances of approval.
Can I Get Long-Term Disability Benefits for my Heart Disease?
It is possible to receive long-term disability benefits from your heart disease claim. However, qualifying for long-term disability insurance benefits will depend on the severity of your condition & symptoms. Overall, producing a strong claim with plenty of objective evidence of your condition will help convince the insurance company that you need the benefits.
Approval will also require a thorough review of your insurance claim. Policies will generally define what disability means – often a condition that prevents you from performing the tasks of your job position. Your disability attorney can review your policy, and help you prove to the insurance company that your condition fits their definition.
Types of Heart Disease
There are 3 main types of heart disease. Many of them may require restrictions and limitations that may prevent you from working. Reducing the strain that stress or intense physical activity can take on your heart can be important in the treatment and care of all forms of this condition. It should also be noted that some individuals may live with one or more types of heart disease. Below, we will discuss the 3 main types of heart disease.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Ischemic Heart Disease is also known as coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis. Its main characteristics include the buildup of materials within the arteries, which restrict blood flow to the heart. In the early stages of this condition, high blood pressure is a primary symptom. Those suffering from this condition are often fatigued, or have a low amount of energy overall.
When the walls of your arteries thicken and become more rigid, you are likely suffering from Arteriosclerosis. This rigidity and tightness are caused by the buildup of fats and/or calcium deposits. Arteriosclerosis can be serious, and when combined with Ischemic Heart Disease, you have an even higher chance of a heart attack.
Congestive Heart Failure
When the heart weakens to the point that it cannot sufficiently pump blood throughout the body, you have congestive heart failure. Without proper blood flow, your organs lack the necessary oxygen and nutrients to operate efficiently. Without medical intervention, those suffering from congestive heart failure may suffer from further health conditions as a result.
Debilitating Symptoms of Heart Disease
Being diagnosed with heart disease alone is often not enough for long-term disability approval. Rather, you will need to show the insurance company the symptoms you suffer from. The frequency and severity of your symptoms can also be an important part of your claim. Overall, you need to provide the insurance company with information regarding your symptoms and how they prevent you from working.
While symptoms may differ by the type of heart disease you have, there are many symptoms that are common across most individuals with heart disease. Common symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the extremities
in addition to the symptoms above, you may also be able to account for side effects caused by medications for your condition. Be sure to discuss possible medication side effects with your physician. If you are experiencing any side effects that might affect your ability to work, be sure to document them and discuss them with your doctor.
Proving Long-Term Disability for your Heart Disease
There are two main avenues to prove long-term disability for your heart disease. Firstly, you can attempt to prove that your condition makes you physically unable to perform your job. Even for sedentary jobs, a heart condition can make it difficult to perform work tasks. Long hours mixed with fatigue and low stamina are not a good mix. It may become difficult for you to commute to work or move about the office. If your profession is more physical, you might not have the ability to perform work tasks safely or efficiently.
The second option is to prove that your job exposes you to significant harm because of your condition. You can claim that the physical aspects of your job put you at risk of a heart attack. Alternatively, you can claim that the stress of your job puts excess strain on your heart. However, you should note that “risk of harm” disabilities are often harder to prove. This is because it can be difficult to quantify your risk, especially with stress.
Medical Evidence and Proving Disability
Proper medical evidence can help support your long-term disability claim. Additionally, any objective medical evidence of your condition can be vital to your claim. Insurance companies will usually value objective proof over anything else.
The first piece of medical evidence that is key to your claim is your diagnosis. Proof of diagnosis can come from doctor’s notes, as well as any test results that can substantiate it. Test results can provide objective medical evidence of your condition. Cardiovascular testing such as echocardiograms, stress tests, and MRIs can be helpful in assessing your condition as well as building your claim. An Attending Physician’s Statement is a report from your doctor giving their opinion on your condition. This report will often outline your symptoms and how your condition inhibits you at work.
Appropriate Treatment for Your Heart Disease
Often, the insurance company will need to see that you are actively seeking appropriate treatment for your condition. Most long-term disability insurance policies require proof that you are following your doctor’s orders of care for your condition in order to approve your claim. Additionally, the insurance company can terminate your benefits if you are found to be in “non-compliance.”
Follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to caring for your condition, or the side effects of your medication. Be sure to go to follow-up appointments and take medications as prescribed. Lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, and quitting smoking, are often a part of “appropriate treatment” for heart disease. As such, it is best to follow through with these in order to reduce the risk of losing your benefits.