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What Benefits are Available After a Heart Attack?

Resuscitation on the road

Suffering a heart attack is a major life-threatening event. You will likely be recovering from a heart attack for a significant period of time. While you are recovering, you are not going to be able to work. You may be asking yourself if you cannot work while in recovery, how are you going to pay your bills? 

Benefits Are Available After a Heart Attack

The monetary benefits available to you after your heart attack will depend upon a few factors:

  1. First, whether you or your employer are paying for private disability insurance. If you have private disability insurance coverage, those benefits will more than likely become effective immediately from the date of your heart attack to when you are able to return to work.
  2. If you lack private health insurance, and your recovery process is expected to be long or you have permanent limitations, then social security disability insurance may be an option for you. 
  3. If you lack both private disability insurance and you are not eligible for social security disability benefits because you have not been paying taxes, your final recourse would be state assistance. This would depend solely upon the state you are living in and what type of benefits that state will provide to its citizens. Some states provide for temporary disability benefits while other states provide zero. 

If you have been working and paying taxes into the social security system, looking into this program may be a good option. Your eligibility will depend upon a multitude of factors, with one of the most important factors being the severity of your medical condition and resulting limitations. 

Heart Attack Causes and Effects

A heart attack occurs when blood flow is blocked from the heart. The heart needs blood for oxygen. Blockages in your veins/arteries are often caused by a buildup of plaque. The plaque build-up restricts the blood flow to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. There are three types of heart attack, ranging in severity: ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), non-ST-segment myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), and unstable angina. The severity of a heart attack is ultimately judged by the amount of heart muscle that is permanently damaged. This is typically assessed by an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart.

The most common, and deadliest, form of heart attack is STEMI. A STEMI heart attack occurs when the coronary artery is completely blocked, again restricting oxygen rich blood from the heart. This could be described as a form of suffocation for the heart muscle. The longer your heart goes without oxygen, the more damage there will be to the muscle. A STEMI heart attack is very serious which can cause significant long-term damage to the heart. A STEMI heart attack presents with classic symptoms of pressure in the chest along with pain in the arms, back, neck or jaw. Other symptoms may include nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety, lightheadedness, or cold sweats. 

A non-STEMI heart attack, or NSTEMI, occurs when the coronary artery is only partially blocked. The degree of blockage will be shown on coronary angiography. Blood tests may also be used to show elevated troponin protein levels. Because the coronary artery is not fully blocked, the damage to the heart may be less than a full blockage. Nonetheless there likely will still be permanent damage to the heart. Anytime the heart is not receiving full blood flow there will likely be damage. 

The third type is unstable angina or coronary spasm. This is thought of as a silent heart attack, without any blockage. This form of heart attack occurs when one of the heart’s arteries tightens so much that blood flow stops or becomes drastically reduced. The blood flow is not restricted by plaque but by the arteries themselves. There is no permanent damage during a coronary spasm as the blood flow restriction is likely very short. This type of heart attack is generally not serious as it does not result in permanent damage. However, it is an indicator of the heart not functioning properly and should be addressed and treated so as to prevent a more severe heart attack. 

Treatment for Heart Attacks

Treatment options for a heart attack have a wide range depending upon severity. In some situations, you may require surgical intervention to remove the blockage, such as coronary artery bypass or stent placement. A bypass procedure is exactly how it sounds. The blood flow to your heart will be routed around the blocked artery. A stent is a tiny, flexible, mesh tube that is placed in the artery at the site of blockage to help open up the artery for blood to pass through. Non-surgical treatment options may include blood thinner medication or other medications, lifestyle changes and physical therapy. 

For some, recovery after a major heart attack is short in duration. If your heart attack was severe, your recovery time is likely significant, with resulting permanent limitations. Age plays a significant factor in your recovery time. The older you are, the more difficult your recovery will be. If you have suffered a severe heart attack and find yourself unable to work for the foreseeable future, social security disability is likely the best benefit for you. 

Applying for Disability Benefits After a Heart Attack

Applying for these benefits can be done over the phone, in person or online through the social security website. The key to your disability application is whether your symptoms are expected to last a minimum of 12 months, keeping you from working for that time. Your medical records will need to show significant limitations that impact certain functional abilities. 

Oftentimes, the hardest thing to prove after a severe heart attack is the amount of fatigue you are experiencing. Because fatigue is subjective, or unique to you, proving this can be quite difficult. It is essential to have medical evidence documenting the severity of not only your fatigue but also your physical limitations. It is also essential that you follow all prescribed treatment recommendations from your medical provider. If you do not follow the treatment plan laid out for you, the social security administration may use that lack of treatment as a way to deny you benefits. 

LaBovick Law Group Can Help You Navigate the Claims Process

At the LaBovick Law Group, we can help you navigate through the social security disability process. We know the information that is necessary to win you benefits. Give us a call today at (561) 623-3681 so we may win you benefits. 

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