High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects tens of millions of Americans each year. While most don’t even know they have high blood pressure until they are evaluated during a check-up, others experience painful symptoms, dizziness, or increased chances for other serious disorders.
Unfortunately, getting disability benefits for blood pressure can be very difficult. If your initial claim was denied, then don’t worry — you are among the 2/3 of applicants that received the same decision as you. Continue below to learn why your claim may have been denied, and what steps you can take going forward.
Potential Causes for a Benefit Denial
To understand why your hypertension may not have qualified for benefits, we will compare your application to the Social Security’s “Blue Book," which details how any severe disorder can qualify. The most common reasons for hypertension denial are:
- A lack of medication/treatment history. While high blood pressure can definitely be a serious issue, it is also a highly treatable disorder. Common medications, exercise, and diet changes can often result in a lowering of blood pressure to keep it at a reasonable level. In order to qualify for benefits, you must show that your blood pressure leaves you “totally and permanently disabled”, meaning you must demonstrate how no previous treatment options have lessened the severity of your disorder. Timing is also important here as well — those who have struggled with hypertension for longer have a higher chance of receiving benefits.
- No hospitalization or history of other related disorders. Because it is typically easy to treat, high blood pressure does not have its own entry in the Blue Book. However, several other conditions (especially heart conditions) can be proven disabling with the presence of consistent, dangerously high blood pressure. The best way to qualify for benefits is by showing that your blood pressure causes one of the other disorders listed in the Blue Book, such as ischemic heart disease or peripheral arterial disease. Frequent, lengthy hospitalizations (48 hours or more) due to your blood pressure can also be grounds to receive benefits.
Preparing for Your Hearing
While it may feel disheartening, the following are the two big you should take after an initial denial:
- Schedule your disability hearing. Disability hearings allow your case to be heard in person by an administrative law judge, or ALJ. They have the ability to overturn your previous results and award you benefits if they find you to be totally and permanently disabled. Hearings can take quite a while to receive, so it is important to sign up as fast as possible for a time slot. This can be done by visiting your local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, or ODAR.
- Prepare new tests, results, and testimonies supporting your case. The ALJ presiding over your hearing will be much more receptive to your case if you have a large amount of new evidence supporting your case. This can be in the form of new MRIs, CT scans, exercise/stress tests, regular blood pressure measurements at physicals, hospitalization history, medication history, physician/therapist notes, or even testimonies from old bosses and coworkers. In general, the more evidence you can provide, the more likely you will get benefits.
Considering a Disability Attorney
Especially when preparing for a disability hearing, one of the best resources you can use is a disability attorney. Their legal expertise is designed to help people just like you compile evidence, prepare a case, and fight in court for the benefits you deserve. Even better, their payment is based on “contingency”, meaning they are not allowed to receive payment unless they win your case.
To see if a disability attorney may be right for you, consider a free consultation with an attorney in your area today.