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Social Security Disability: Understanding Cardiovascular and Circulatory Disorders as Qualifying Impairments

In the face of debilitating cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, many individuals find themselves unable to maintain employment and secure financial stability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the severity of these conditions and offers disability benefits to those who meet the eligibility criteria. However, navigating the complex application process can be daunting, especially when it comes to demonstrating the severity of cardiovascular impairments.

Understanding Cardiovascular and Circulatory Disorders

Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders encompass a wide range of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, disrupting the normal flow of blood throughout the body. These conditions can lead to a variety of symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness. Some of the most common cardiovascular and circulatory disorders that can qualify for Social Security disability benefits include:

  • Chronic heart failure: This condition occurs when the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in the legs and ankles.

  • Ischemic heart disease: This condition occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked or reduced, often due to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in arteries. Symptoms can include chest pain, angina, and shortness of breath.

  • Recurrent arrhythmias: These are irregular heartbeats that can disrupt the heart’s normal electrical system. Symptoms can include palpitations, dizziness, and fainting.

  • Congenital heart disease: These are defects in the heart’s structure that are present from birth. Symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the defect.

  • Aneurysm of the aorta: This is a weakening or bulging of the wall of the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Symptoms can include chest pain, back pain, and shortness of breath.

Meeting the Eligibility Criteria for Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on a cardiovascular or circulatory disorder, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): SGA is defined as any work activity that is considered meaningful in the national economy. This means that the individual must be unable to perform any job for which they could earn more than a substantial gainful activity amount (SGAA), which is periodically updated by the SSA.

  2. Have a medically determinable impairment that meets the requirements of the Listing of Impairments (Blue Book): The Blue Book is a compilation of medical conditions and their associated criteria that the SSA uses to determine disability. Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders are listed in Section 4 of the Blue Book.

  3. The impairment is expected to last for at least one year or result in death: This means that the individual’s condition is either expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or is expected to result in death.

Gathering Evidence to Support Your Claim

To strengthen your claim for disability benefits, it is crucial to gather comprehensive medical evidence that documents the severity of your cardiovascular or circulatory disorder. This evidence may include:

  • Medical records: These include all relevant medical records from doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. Records should detail the diagnosis, treatment history, and any limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs).

  • Imaging studies: These include echocardiograms, electrocardiograms (EKGs), and stress tests, which provide valuable information about the heart’s function and structure.

  • Pulmonary function tests: These tests measure lung function and can help assess the impact of heart disease on breathing capacity.

  • Vocational expert testimony: A vocational expert can evaluate your work skills, education, and transferable skills to determine if you can perform any other type of work that is considered SGA.

Seeking Legal Assistance

The Social Security disability application process can be complex and time-consuming. It is highly advisable to seek legal assistance from an experienced attorney who specializes in Social Security disability law. An attorney can help you navigate the process, gather evidence, and prepare a strong case that demonstrates your eligibility for benefits.


Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders can have a profound impact on an individual’s ability to work and maintain financial stability. Social Security disability benefits offer a lifeline to those who are unable to engage in SGA due to these debilitating conditions. By understanding the eligibility criteria and gathering comprehensive medical evidence, individuals can increase their chances of securing the benefits they deserve.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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