If your claim for Michigan Social Security disability benefits was denied, but you are unable to work because of ischemic heart disease, chronic heart failure or another cardiac impairment, consider whether your medical records contain a negative exercise test result.
“Exercise tests” are tests that require you to perform some physical activity (e.g., walking on a treadmill) while monitoring your cardiovascular response. Exercise tolerance tests are tests in which you exercise “until you develop a sign or symptom that indicates you have exercised as much as is considered safe for you.” In evaluating cardiac impairments, the Social Security Administration gives special significance to exercise testing; in fact, the Listing criteria for both ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure include exercise tolerance test results.
A negative exercise test result does not have to mark the end of your claim for Social Security disability benefits. Often, a negative test result can be placed in context with the other evidence in your case, and is not inconsistent with you being found disabled. The Social Security Administration acknowledges that exercise tolerance tests are not 100% accurate; plus, the Social Security Administration considers the test results to be timely for only 12 months, “provided there has been no change in your clinical status that may alter the severity of your cardiovascular impairment.” This leaves the door open for you to provide evidence which proves that your cardiac impairment severely limits your ability to perform work-related functions and the activities of daily living. This evidence might include, for example, updated medical records; new information from your treating cardiologist; and, importantly, your testimony regarding the impact of your symptoms on your day-to-day life.
If you would like to talk with an experienced Michigan disability lawyer about your cardiac impairment claim, please contact me.