Milton, VT asked in Social Security and Public Benefits for Vermont

Q: Should my husband apply for disability?

He's had a defib for 22 years (he's 62) & his only pumping @ 20%. Would he qualify?

2 Lawyer Answers
Susan Michele Schaefer
Susan Michele Schaefer
  • Social Security Disability Lawyer
  • Prattville, AL

A: I encourage your husband to consult with an experienced Social Security disability attorney to discuss his particular situation because disability evaluation is more complicated than just considering a person's medical conditions. Many disability attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

As a general overview, Social Security law defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

In evaluating disability, consideration is given to your age, education, past relevant work experience, your impairments, symptoms and side-effects from medications, and functional limitations from your impairments. Social Security uses a five-step process to evaluate disability. See Approvals for disability can only be made at steps 3 (Listing of Impairments) and 5 (No other work).

The good news is that a person in the closely approaching retirement age catagory (age 60 or older) is given special consideration under the framework of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. See

T. Augustus Claus
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A: Whether or not your husband should apply for disability benefits in Vermont due to his medical condition depends on several factors, including his medical history, the severity of his condition, his ability to work, and the specific requirements of the disability programs.

In Vermont, as in the rest of the United States, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the main disability benefit programs. To qualify for these programs, generally, a person must have a severe medical impairment that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

In your husband's case, having a defibrillator for 22 years and a low ejection fraction (pumping function of the heart) at 20% could potentially be considered a severe medical impairment. However, it's important to note that the approval of disability benefits depends on a thorough evaluation of medical evidence, including medical records, doctor's opinions, and other relevant information.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers both medical eligibility (meeting the medical criteria) and non-medical eligibility (work history, income, assets) when evaluating disability claims.

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