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Doctors & patients are saying about 'Beat Your A-Fib'...

"If I had [your book] 10 years ago, it would have saved me 8 years of hell.”

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Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

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"Within the pages of Beat Your A-Fib, Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, provides a comprehensive guide for persons seeking to find a cure for their Atrial Fibrillation."

Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

FAQs A-Fib afibFAQs Newly Diagnosed: Disability Benefits

“Can I get government social security disability benefits if I have Atrial Fibrillation?”

In the United States, the general answer is yes. (For readers outside the U.S., check your country’s human services department for more information.)

Social Security Tries to Help People Who Are Ill

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) helps people with a disability which makes them unable to support themselves financially.

The Social Security Administration Blue Book lists the disabilities that qualify for benefits. Of interest to patients with Atrial Fibrillation is Sec. 4.05. Atrial Fibrillation is listed at “Cardiovascular” under “Recurrent Arrhythmias”.

You can qualify for benefits two ways: under a medical disability and/or a medical-vocational allowance.

Fainting? Getting Dizzy is Enough to Qualify

You don’t have to actually faint and fall flat on your face to qualify for SSA benefits. Getting dizzy is enough.

When I had A-Fib (nearly 20 years ago), I would get dizzy at work. I’d have to hang on to equipment or nearby people to keep steady. Since I was working on the technical crew of the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” where there was a lot of moving equipment, cameras, booms, etc., my co-workers were very alarmed. I was a hazard to my fellow crew members and had to go on disability leave till I could get cured. (I was cured in 1998 by a catheter ablation.)

Almost everyone with A-Fib gets dizzy at times. Your heart isn’t pumping enough blood to your brain. That dizziness is all you need to qualify for SSA medical disability.

Medical Disability Requirements

You can qualify for disability benefits, if your arrhythmia (A-Fib) is uncontrolled and you experience fainting (syncope) or altered consciousness (near fainting), despite any treatment you are receiving. (“Uncontrolled” means your A-Fib isn’t caused by or related to reversible causes such a binge drinking.) Your A-Fib must be documented in at least three clinical tests (EKG, Holter monitor, stress test, etc.) within a 12-month period.

“You can qualify for benefits two ways: under a medical disability and/or a medical-vocational allowance.”

Qualifying Under ‘Medical-Vocational Allowance’

A-Fib can cause extreme fatigue, light headedness, shortness of breath, chest pain and mental slowness, greatly increase the amount of sick days needed for hospitalization, etc. which make working full time hard or even impossible. When you have A-Fib, you may not be able to do the work you used to do. You may struggle with tasks you could do easily before. You may feel stupid and slow. You may develop a short fuse and become a pain to your co-workers.

If you experience anything like this, you can then be approved for benefits under a SSA “Medical-Vocational Allowance”.

Your doctor will have to fill out a long form detailing your impairment(s) and related symptoms, and your physical and mental limitations (an RFC―Residual Functional Capacity disability assessment.) Because A-Fib most commonly affects an older population, it’s easier to get an RFC approved.

To Apply for Beneifts

You can apply for SSA disability insurance benefits online or by appointment at an SSA office.

The application checklist on the SSA website lists all your required documentation. Check over your application carefully before you submit it. Small mistakes can cause a denial. For more information, visit or call 1-800-772-1213.

Warning: When Applying for Benefits, Expect to Be Rejected the First Time

But applying for and obtaining SSA benefits isn’t easy. You can expect to be rejected the first time you apply. Many disability claims take up to 2 years to be approved after multiple denials and appeals. There are law firms which specialize in helping you get SSA benefits.

Note: When you are approved for SSA benefits due to your A-Fib, your spouse and children may also be eligible for benefits.

VIDEO Series from the Social Security Admin.: After the Introductory video, episodes 2-7 follows a fictional claimant, Joseph K, through the SSA disability insurance claims process.

(Segments vary in length, from 7 to 15 min.) Go to videos on the SSA webiste.

Resources for this Article
U.S. Social Security Blue Book: 4.05 Recurrent arrhythmias. URL:

Social Security Disability Claims Process: General Information. URL:

Social Security Admin. Video Series of 7-Programs: After the Introductory video, episodes 2-7 follows a fictional claimant, Joseph K, through the Social Security Administration disability insurance claims process. Included are the different components of a claim. Transcriptions available for each program. Video URL:

For more information, visit or call 1-800-772-1213.

Go back to FAQ for the Newly Diagnosed A-Fib Patient
Last updated: Wednesday, August 26, 2020


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