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Social Security Disability Benefits For Aneurysm
I have been diagnosed with aneurysm. Can I Social Security Disability benefits (SSI/SSDI), Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI)?
If you have been given a diagnosis of aneurysm, this is just the start. Usually, the main focus in a Social Security disability claim is on the symptoms you experience from aneurysm and how those symptoms affect your ability to engage in physical and mental work-related activities full-time – that is, eight (8) hours per day, five (5) days per week.
An aneurysm is a bulge on any of the blood vessels. The blood vessels are tubular structures that carry blood throughout your body. When a blood vessel is weak or damaged, the weak part may balloon out or, in severe cases, rupture. A ruptured aneurysm is a medical emergency and may be life-threatening.
Can you get disability due to an aneurysm?
Many aneurysms occur in the brain as well as on the aorta, a large blood vessel that delivers oxygenated blood from the heart. What makes this condition more dangerous is that it does not always show symptoms. But if the blood vessel rapidly expands or ruptures, the signs may include pain, clammy skin, nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate, and low blood pressure.
An unruptured aneurysm can restrict your regular movements. To confirm that you are disabled, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step evaluation.
Step 1. Are you working?
The first thing that the SSA considers is your work activity. If you are engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), you will not be found as disabled. The amount you must earn to be working at SGA changes each year. For 2018 it is $1,180 per month if you are not blind and $1,970 per month if you are blind. If you are working, and your earnings average more than the SGA limit, then you will not be found disabled. If you are not working, or your earnings are less than SGA, the process proceeds to Step 2 where your aneurysm and its effects are considered.
Step 2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
The SSA will check if your medical condition significantly limits your ability to do basic work activities such as sitting; standing; walking; lifting; carrying; understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple instructions; making simple work-related decisions; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and work stress; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
For the SSA to find you disabled, you must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (or a combination of impairments) that is severe and has lasted or is expected last one (1) year or end in death. If your medical condition is not that severe, you will not be found to meet the requirements for Social Security disability benefits. If your condition is that severe, the process proceeds to the next step.
Step 3. Does your medical condition meet or equal the severity of a Listing?
A “listing” refers to an item on the Social Security Administration’s list of medical criteria. These criteria are considered to be so severe that you will be found disabled if your medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) matches them. The Adult Listing for aneurysm can be found here.
If your impairment does not meet or equal one of the listings, or if the duration requirement is not met, the SSA proceeds to determine your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). In a nutshell, the RFC is what you’re capable of doing full-time despite your impairments.
RFC is a function-by-function assessment of your maximum ability to do sustained work-related physical and mental activities on a regular and continuing basis (8 hours a day, for 5 days a week) despite the limitations and restrictions resulting from your medically determinable impairments.
Step 4. Can you do any of the jobs you have performed in the past fifteen (15) years?
Here, the SSA checks to see if your medical condition prevents you from working full-time at the jobs you have done in the past fifteen (15) years. If the SSA decides you can perform any of your past relevant work (PRW), you will be found not disabled. To be PRW, the work must have been substantial gainful activity (SGA); performed in the fifteen (15) year relevant period; and performed long enough to learn the job. If the SSA decides you cannot perform your past relevant work, or if you have not worked in the past fifteen (15) years, the SSA goes on to Step 5.
Still here at Step 4, you have what is called the “burden of proof” or the obligation to present evidence. Two of the strongest types of evidence at this stage are medical records and the opinions of the doctors who are treating you for the conditions that are affecting your ability to work. The strongest medical evidence is what is known as objective medical evidence, or evidence that does not rely upon what you tell your doctors. The strongest opinions are opinions that are offered by doctors who specialize in the condition that is keeping you from working and which are supported by objective medical evidence.
Some types of objective medical evidence that can support a claim for disability based upon aneurysm include:
- Cardiovascular test results – May include electrocardiograph or electrocardiogram (ECG), exercise tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiography, and ultrasound.
- Detailed reports of your history
- Physical examinations
- Laboratory studies
- Any prescribed treatment and response
- Longitudinal clinical record – This must cover not less than three (3) months of observations and treatment.
Depending on where in your body the aneurysm occurs, various doctors specialize in treating it. These include:
- Cardiologists/Cardiac surgeons – specialists in heart-related disorders
- Vascular surgeons – highly-trained doctors for problems in the vascular system (also called the circulatory system)
- Neurosurgeon – specializes in the nervous system
Note that if you are only consulting your family doctor or primary care doctor for your aneurysm, the SSA may interpret this as meaning that your condition is not that serious (otherwise you would be treating with a specialist). An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you locate sources of treatment (even if you don’t have health insurance).
Step 5. Can you do any other type of work?
Here, the SSA has the burden of proof. If you cannot do your past relevant work, the SSA looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience, and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you can do other work, the SSA will determine you are not disabled. If you cannot do other work, SSA will find you disabled.
Are you older than 50? There are special rules that may apply to your claim that can result in a finding of disability even if there is some other work you could perform on a full-time basis. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer will be familiar with these rules and can ensure that they are considered in the evaluation of your case.
The aneurysm you have experienced may have restricted your ability to work, but you should not have to suffer financially for a long time. You may truly deserve disability benefits, so don’t be discouraged by the strict application process of the SSA.
Contact Gillette Law Group
Let the Gillette Law Group help you. We are a team of legal professionals who have years of experience in assisting disability applicants, enabling them to pursue successful Social Security claims. Whether you are appealing a previously-denied claim or are applying for the first time, we can make your application effective and more likely to be approved.
Your consultation with us is free. Call us at (855) 873-2604 today.