A pacemaker is a device which is installed close to the heart to control the rhythm of the heart’s beat. Pacemakers can be used to control an abnormal heart rate (arrhythmias) or protect against a heart attack or any other genetic condition which may cause disruptions to your heart’s beat which cause your heart to beat too fast or too slow. Any disruptions in your heart’s rhythm and you can experience severe symptoms including loss of blood flow, severe fatigue, confusion, difficulty breathing or death.
Winning SSDI or SSI for a pacemaker
The Social Security Administration has two methods for determining whether or not a SSDI or SSI claimant is disabled. First, they will determine if they have a condition which “meets or exceeds” a listing in their SSA Listing of Impairments. This listing is also called the Blue Book, and it identifies severe conditions and symptoms which the SSA considers automatically disabling.
The second method for determining disability is done through a medical vocational allowance which is a process the SSA uses to determine if a claimant has the “residual capacity to work.” Claimants who do not meet a listing are likely to be denied the first time they apply and may have to appeal their SSDI or SSI case. Consider, it is much easier for an older claimant to win SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance than a younger claimant because the SSA will assume an older applicant will be less likely to be able to retrain for new work.
Meeting a Listing and winning SSDI or SSI for a Pacemaker
There are thousands of workers who have pacemakers who are performing substantial gainful activity each day and who are not considered disabled. This means that the SSA will not care if you have a pacemaker if you can perform work. The SSA could, however, decide that your underlying health condition which required you to get a pacemaker is so severe that you cannot perform substantial gainful activity.
For instance, there are 850,000 individuals who are hospitalized each year for an irregular heartbeat and have some of them have severe health issues such as heart failure, mitral valve prolapse, heart attacks, sickle cell anemia, atrial fibrillation and respiratory failure.
Many of these severe health conditions can lead to severe health symptoms such as fainting, heart palpitations, chest pain, weakness, and severe fatigue. Whether or not your symptoms are severe enough to win benefits will depend on whether you are able to control your symptoms with medical intervention, such as a pace maker, or through other lifestyle modifications.
If, for instance, you can prove that your medical condition meets or exceeds a condition under Listing 4.00 Cardiovascular System you may be considered disabled. Conditions which are identified in this section include chronic heart failure, Ischemic Heart Disease, Recurrent arrhythmias, symptomatic congenital heart disease, heart transplant, chronic venous insufficiency, and peripheral arterial disease.
Winning SSDI or SSDI through a medical vocational allowance
As mentioned above, the SSA will not consider the implantation of a pacemaker as sufficient evidence of disability. If your condition does not meet or exceed a listing you will have to prove that your underlying health disorder(s) is so severe you cannot work. Claimants older than 55 years of age (especially those who have only done heavy physical labor and have a limited education) will have an easier time proving they do not have the ability to retrain for new work. But again, the SSA will evaluate the underlying health disorders not whether or not you have a pacemaker.
- SSDI vs. SSI – Which one should I apply for? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)