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Irregular Heartbeat (Arrhythmia) and SSA Disability Benefits

Most individuals have a normal heartbeat which ranges from 50 to 100 beats per minute. An irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia is any condition which causes the heart to beat too slowly or too fast or which does not allow the heart to maintain a regular heartbeat.
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Common Causes of Irregular Heartbeat or Arrhythmia

It is estimated that more than 850,000 individuals are hospitalized each year for an irregular heartbeat. Common and uncommon conditions which can cause this condition include:

  1. Atrial fibrillation

  2. Buliminia nervosa

  3. Eating disorders

  4. Heart failure

  5. Mitral valve prolapse

  6. Thyrotoxicosis

  7. Heart attacks

  8. Coronary artery disease

  9. Electrolyte imbalances

  10. Chronic fatigue syndrome

  11. Sickle cell anemia

  12. Drug overdose

  13. Respiratory failure


Symptoms of an Irregular Heartbeat


Many individuals may have an irregular heartbeat and not even know it. The symptoms of the arrhythmia may be silent, although with tests (echocardiogram, stress test, cardiac catheterization, or an event monitor) at a physical examination your medical doctor should be able to detect the irregular heartbeat. Other claimants may suffer from symptoms which range from mild to severe and can include:

  1. Heart palpitations

  2. Fainting spells

  3. Heart pounding

  4. Light-headedness

  5. Weakness

  6. Chest pain


Some arrhythmias can be treated simply with lifestyle modifications including diet and exercise. Other claimants may have to take medications or have surgery to eliminate the issues of an irregular heartbeat.

Winning SSDI or SSI for an Irregular Heartbeat


If you have severe symptoms associated with an irregular heartbeat and you have received proper medical care, but continue to experience issues, you may have difficulty maintaining employment, especially if your work is strenuous.

To determine if your condition is severe enough to win SSDI or SSI benefits the Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your condition and determine if it meets or exceeds the listing and symptoms outlined on the SSA Listing of Impairments. If your condition and symptoms are on the list or are as severe as another condition on the list, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements of SSDI or SSI, you will be awarded benefits immediately.

If your condition is not on the list you will have to prove that you do not have the residual capacity to continue to work. This is done through what the SSA terms the “medical vocational allowance” process.

Meeting a Listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments for Irregular Heartbeat


An arrhythmia will be evaluated under Listing 4.00 Cardiovascular System, section 4.05 Recurrent Arrhythmias. Under this listing the SSA states that the arrhythmias cannot be caused by any condition which is reversible, and the SSA will expect that the claimant will have received appropriate medical treatment for their condition.

Winning SSI or SSDI benefits for irregular heartbeat through a medical vocational allowance


If your condition does not meet the listing outlined above to win SSDI or SSI you will have to have sufficient medical evidence to prove that you cannot work your current job, your previous job or retrain for new work.

Young claimants with minor symptoms who may be able to retrain for new, sedentary work will have the most difficulty winning SSI or SSDI benefits through a medical vocational allowance. Older claimants, especially those over the age of 55 and who have done physical labor their entire lives, will have less difficulty proving that they cannot work.

If your condition does not meet a listing you may need to talk to a disability lawyer for more information about how to win your SSI or SSDI case.
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