Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Social Security Disability Insurance2017-12-19T05:40:04+00:00

Peripheral Arterial Disease & Social Security Disability Insurance

Learn more about the SSDI approval process for individuals with PAD.

SSDI Eligibility Guidelines: Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Determine if an individual is working (engaging in substantial gainful activity) according to the SSA definition. Earning more than $1,170 a month as an employee is enough to be disqualified from receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Conclude the peripheral arterial disease disability must be severe enough to significantly limit one’s ability to perform basic work activities needed to do most jobs. For example:

  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is listed under the category of impairments known as Cardiovascular System – Medical Listing 4.12. PAD is any impairment that affects either the arteries (peripheral arterial disease) or the veins (venous insufficiency) in the extremities, particularly the lower extremities, and causes pain in the calf after walking a distance that goes away when resting (intermittent claudication). The usual effect is blockage of the flow of blood either from the heart (arterial) or back to the heart (venous). Limitations will be assessed based on symptoms together with physical findings, Doppler studies, other appropriate non-invasive studies or angiographic findings. The following criteria have been established indicative of the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity, i.e., if one has a diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease, as determined by appropriate medically acceptable imaging, causing intermittent claudication and one of the following, a finding of disabled under the Social Security Act is warranted:

    • Resting ankle/brachial systolic blood pressure ratio of less than 0.50.
    • Decrease in systolic blood pressure at the ankle on exercise of 50 percent or more of pre-exercise level and requiring 10 minutes or more to return to pre-exercise level
    • Resting toe systolic pressure of less than 30 mm Hg.
    • Resting toe/brachial systolic blood pressure ratio of less than 0.40.

Explore the ability of an individual to perform work they have done in the past despite their peripheral arterial disease. If the SSA finds that a person can do his or her past work, benefits are denied. If the person cannot, then the process proceeds to the fifth and final step.


Review age, education, work experience and physical/mental condition to determine what other work, if any, the person can perform. To determine a peripheral arterial disease disability, the SSA enlists medical-vocational rules, which vary according to age.

For example, if a person is:
Under age 50 and, as a result of the symptoms of peripheral arterial disease, unable to perform what the SSA calls sedentary work, then the SSA will reach a determination of disabled. Sedentary work requires the ability to lift a maximum of 10 pounds at a time, sit six hours and occasionally walk and stand two hours per eight-hour day.
Age 50 or older and, due to peripheral arterial disease, limited to performing sedentary work, but has no work-related skills that allow the person to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.
Age 55 or older and, due to the disability, limited to performing light work, but has no work-related skills that allow the person to do so, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.
Over age 60 and, due to peripheral arterial disease, unable to perform any of the jobs he or she performed in the last 15 years, the SSA likely will reach a determination of disabled.
Any age and, because of peripheral arterial disease, has a psychological impairment that prevents even simple, unskilled work, the SSA will reach a determination of disabled.

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