Can you get Disability for High Blood Pressure?
Can I get disability benefits if I am suffering from the effects of high blood pressure?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
According to a 2023 report from the American Heart Association, more than 122 million Americans ages 20 and older have hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension can affect a person’s ability to sleep, concentrate and deal with stress, and if left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and vision problems. If you are suffering from the effects of Hypertension you may qualify for disability benefits.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood the heart pumps and how hard it is for blood to move through arteries.
If blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body. A blood pressure reading is a combination of two measures, systolic and diastolic. Systolic (the top and higher number) measures pressure inside arteries when the heart beats. Diastolic (the bottom and lower number) measures pressure inside arteries when the heart rests between beats. The more blood the heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher the blood pressure.
After normal, the stages of blood pressure are measured as follows:
- Elevated – 120-129/less than 80
- Stage 1 Hypertension – 130-139/80-89
- Stage 2 Hypertension – 140 and above/90 and above
- Hypertension crisis – Above 180/Above 120
Many people who suffer from high blood pressure have no symptoms until their condition reaches a dangerous stage.
The only way to know whether your blood pressure is too high is through regular checkups or monitoring your blood pressure at home. Signs and symptoms of hypertension include:
- Severe headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Vision problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
If you are suffering from Hypertension and have been denied disability don’t give up, almost 70% are denied initially! Just call 512-454-4000 for a free, no obligation consultation to learn what your options are. Have some questions? just give us a call, we love to help folks just like you!
Ninety to ninety-five percent of all cases of hypertension have no underlying cause.
These cases appear gradually and are known as “essential” high blood pressure. In contrast, cases of “secondary” hypertension are associated with another condition, the most common of which is kidney disease. Other causes of secondary high blood pressure include adrenal gland tumors, birth control pills, blood vessel problems and medications that constrict the blood vessels like cold remedies and decongestants.
There are also several risk factors that have been linked to hypertension in general:
- Being overweight
- Lack of physical activity
- Diet high in salt
- Alcohol consumption
- Family history of hypertension
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- Sleep apnea
- Age over 65
Hypertension is diagnosed by taking three or more blood pressure readings at different times to determine its severity and consistency.
In addition to medications to control blood pressure, treatment involves changes in diet, regular physical activity, weight loss and limited alcohol.
High blood pressure is a common condition that can affect your sleep, concentration and ability to handle stress; it can also contribute to more serious conditions, such as heart disease.
While you may find it difficult to maintain full-time employment, the Social Security Administration does not consider hypertension a disability. Improved treatments have made hypertension easier to manage and in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you will need to prove that your medical condition prevents you from working at any job.
Social Security has created a manual called the Blue Book which lists impairments Social Security considers disabling and may automatically qualify for benefits.
While hypertension does not have a specific listing, if high blood pressure has caused damage to your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, or other organs, you might qualify based on another condition. Social Security will review your medical records to determine if your disability matches one of their impairment listings. It will look for organ damage and whether your high blood pressure is under control. For example, if high blood pressure has damaged your vision, Social Security will evaluate your disability under visual disorders; if you have had a stroke caused by high blood pressure, your disability would be evaluated under neurological disorders. If you have secondary high blood pressure, you might qualify based on the condition that caused high blood pressure, such as kidney disease.
Social Security is mainly concerned with how your disability limits your daily activities.
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to prove your hypertension is more severe than average and you are unable to work in any type of job on a consistent basis. In your application you should list all the ways high blood pressure impacts and limits your daily activities; for example, vision problems may prevent you from driving and headaches and nausea may make it difficult to perform many tasks.
Social Security will want to see complete medical records, including:
- A diagnosis of hypertension
- Records of all blood pressure readings taken by medical providers and yourself
- Laboratory test results, such as cholesterol or kidney function tests
- Results of MRIs, CT scans, and stress tests
- Medications, diet changes and therapies you have tried – especially those that did not work
- Physician notes detailing limitations caused by your hypertension
Social Security gives a lot of weight to doctors’ opinions.
You need to show that you are receiving regular medical treatment and following your doctor’s instructions. A written statement from your doctor regarding your diagnosis and outlook for your recovery is extremely helpful.
After reviewing your medical records, Social Security will conduct a residual functional capacity assessment (RFC) to determine the most stressful work you can be expected to do, considering your physical and mental limitations.
Social Security will evaluate your ability to walk, stand, lift, sit, use your arms and hands, interact with the public, and follow instructions and give you a rating for sedentary work, light work, medium work or heavy work. Social Security also considers your age, education and whether or not you can drive. If Social Security decides you cannot do your old job or don’t have the skills to perform a new job, you may be approved for a Medical-Vocational Allowance.
If you are 55 or older or have another medical condition you may get approval.
Social Security follows a set of rules to determine when the agency expects an applicant to learn a new job.
Applicants who are 55 or older often fall under a grid rule, which means they are not expected to learn a new job. For example, a 55-year-old applicant with no transferable skills might be found disabled. If you can’t go back to your old job, and you don’t have the skills to learn a new one, Social Security will likely grant you disability benefits.
You may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you have another medical condition.
Complications such as heart disease, aneurysms, eye problems, or problems with memory or understanding often result from high blood pressure. One disorder alone may not be considered disabling, but if you have more than one medical condition, Social Security must consider how those health issues combined limit your ability to hold a job and perform necessary daily tasks.
Social Security also has basic financial requirements.
Before you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must satisfy some basic financial requirements.
You must: 1) have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months; and 2) you must have worked in a job where you paid Social Security taxes long enough and recently enough; and 3) you must not earn more than Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is $1,550 per month in 2024 for nonblind applicants and $2,590 per month for blind applicants.
What if I don’t qualify for SSDI?
If you haven’t worked long enough to earn enough work credits, or if you earn too much income, you may be eligible for disability benefits through another Social Security program, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or from a long-term disability insurance plan through your employer or a privately purchased policy.
SSI is a program that pays monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. SSI is based on income instead of work credits, and is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury.
For Veterans: It should be noted that the Veterans Administration does consider high blood pressure a disability by itself.
If you are a veteran, you may qualify for VA disability benefits if you can prove ALL of the following:
- Your hypertension is related to your military service or due to a presumptive;
- Your hypertension appeared during military service or within one year of military service; and
- Your hypertension is severe enough to meet the Veterans Administration disability rating of at least 10%.
I have long-term disability insurance – should I file a claim?
Yes, you should file a claim as soon as you become disabled.
Long-term disability insurance (LTD) is coverage that protects your income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury and is purchased as part of a group employment plan or privately through an insurance company. Policies pay between 50-60% of your salary and benefits continue until you return to work or for the number of years stated in the policy. However, LTD coverage is good only as long as you are employed, so do not quit your job before you file a claim, and be sure to check your policy’s definition of “disabled” as each policy will state the definition of “disabled” which is in use. Additionally, be aware that long-term disability insurance companies can require a claimant to also apply for SSDI.
How do I file for Social Security Disability benefits?
You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security Administration office.
Don’t be discouraged if your initial application is denied – most are – and you will have the opportunity to appeal. There are four steps to the Social Security appeal process:
- File a Request for Reconsideration with the Social Security Administration to completely review the case.
- If you don’t agree with SSA’s response to your Request for Reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). ALJs are attorneys who work for the Social Security Administration; they review SSDI cases and either uphold or overturn decisions to deny SSDI benefits. If you are not represented by an attorney at this point, now is the time to obtain legal counsel. This is a critical point in the process and will raise your chance for success.
- If an ALJ does not grant your claim, you can request that the Appeals Council review your case.
- Federal Court review. The final step in the appeal process is filing suit in U.S. District Court.
Do I need a disability attorney for SSDI?
If you have hypertension and cannot work, it may be difficult to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, but your chances for approval are greatly significantly if you have legal representation.
An experience Social Security disability attorney can review your case and advise you on the best way to proceed. At each potential stage of the process, from the initial application stage, the reconsideration stage and the ALJ hearing stage, an attorney can assist you in completing the detailed forms and questionnaires required by Social Security, collecting and submitting relevant medical evidence, and preparing questionnaires for your doctors. At the ALJ hearing phase an attorney will not only continue to assure that the evidence is complete, but prepare you for questioning by the ALJ, prepare an argument on your behalf and question any doctors or vocational experts selected by the ALJ to testify at the hearing. At the Appeals Council and federal court level, a lawyer can present legal arguments to show your case was wrongfully denied. Fees charged by disability attorneys are regulated by federal law and are usually 25% of disability backpay you are owed. There are no out-of-pocket costs, and if you don’t win your case, you won’t be charged anything.
Do I need a disability attorney for a long-term disability insurance claim?
Whether you have a long-term disability insurance policy purchased through a private insurance broker or a group policy purchased with your employer, filing a claim for long-term insurance is a complex process.
The wording of LTD policies can be confusing and the laws and regulations which affect the two types of LTD insurance differ in their procedures for filing claims and appeals. An experienced LTD attorney with thorough knowledge of ERISA laws and regulations will avoid mistakes and increase your chance of success. An attorney will act on your behalf, completing your application and filing your claim in a timely manner. They can also negotiate a settlement or file an appeal for you. If it becomes necessary to file suit, an LTD attorney can prepare your case against an insurer. Most LTD attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis and charge approximately 25%-40% of a claimant’s past due benefits. You do not pay an attorney’s fee unless the attorney wins your case.
At The Texas Disability law firm Bemis Roach & Reed, our attorneys are committed to helping injured or disabled clients receive the benefits they deserve. Mr. Roach is AV Preeminent and SuperLawyers rated and has become a recognized leader in the field of Long Term Disability law. Mr Bemis focuses his practice on Social Security disability while Mr Reed handles both LTD and SSDI claims. Both are AV Preeminent and SuperLawyers rated and all our attorneys have been successfully helping people fight for their rights against big insurance companies and the government since 1993. If you have applied for benefits and been denied call 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Because of his extensive litigation experience Mr. Roach is board certified from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas trial lawyers association, has been active in the Austin Bar Association and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
Your Free Initial Consultation
At Bemis, Roach and Reed, if we can't help you, we will try to find the right attorneys for you.
We offer each of our prospective clients a free no obligation one hour phone or office consultation to see if we can help you and if you are comfortable with us. We know how difficult a time like this can be and how hard the decisions are. If we can be of assistance to you and help you find a solution to your issue we will even if that means referring you to another attorney.
Or simply call
to schedule your
Let's get you Started:
If you could provide us with some basic information about your claim we will get right back with you with a free case evaluation and schedule your Free Consultation Today.