Rules For Social Security Disability Over 50
When youre applying for Social Security Disability benefits, your age can be a factor in all the main qualifications:
- Your major health problems
- Your inability to continue in your job
- Your inability to switch to a new job
- How long your medical condition will last
If youre younger than 50, Social Security may say that even if your health problems prevent you from doing your most recent job, you could still retrain for a new job.
When youre 50 or older, they may be less strict about itbut you have to show them how your daily activities are limited.
Another factor is the job market.
You may be able to argue at your age that youre less likely to get hired for a job that you could physically still dolike an office job you havent done before.
You dont have to pay anything to have one of our experienced Metairie disability attorneys provide an introductory assessment of your case.
The Grid Rules And Your Past Work
Social Security will look to the grid rules once they have figured out your residual functional capacity . In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work. The grid rules will only apply if Social Security finds that you cant return to your past work. Social Security only considers past relevant work. Past relevant work is work done in the past 15 years. It should also have resulted in significant earnings. Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.
Its Easier For Older People To Qualify For Disability Benefits
This is because the SSA believes that it can be quite difficult for older disabled workers to transition to a new career. This transition is called a vocational adjustment, and the older you are, the more the SSA wants to minimize your vocational adjustment. For this purpose, the SSA has made it easier for older people to win disability benefits. For people at or over the age of 55, its easier to qualify, because the requirements for disability are at a lower level as they approach old age.
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Additional Examples Of How The Grid Might Work For Disability Benefits Over 50
Below are just a few examples of how the grid might or might not benefit your disability application:
- If you are between the ages of 50 and 54, you have fewer educational advancements, and you are considered skilled or semi-skilled with non-transferable skills, the SSA would consider you disabled.
- If you have the same education and skills as above, but you have transferable skills, the SSA would not consider you disabled.
- If you are an unskilled high school graduate between the ages of 50 and 54 with no transferable skills, the SSA would consider you disabled.
- The claimant is 52 years old. She files for disability based on heart disease. The woman has a high-school education and has worked as a factory sorter . The grid considers approaching advanced age, no recent job training, and only unskilled work experience, finding the woman disabled.
- A male 50-year-old applicant has a back injury, a high-school education, and worked as a truck driver . The applicant had transferable skills, however-skills he could use in another position. Taking into account approaching advanced age, and using grid rules for light work, the SSA denied the disability application. It was determined this claimant had job skills that would transfer to less physical work.
If your RFC is for heavy or very heavy work, the grid rules are not used by the SSA under the theory that if you can do very heavy work you can also do heavy work, medium work, light work, or sedentary work.
Why It’s Easier To Get Disability After Age 60
For older workers, in particular claimants 60 and older, Social Security must consult a series of tables called the “grids” to decide if a person is disabled. The grids are a set of rules that take into consideration a disability claimant’s age, residual functional capacity , education, and work history to determine whether the claimant should be approved or denied.
The reason claimants over the age of 60 are much more likely to be approved under the grids is because Social Security takes into consideration the fact that it may be harder for older workers to learn new skills and to transition into new workplaces. That said, if you worked at a skilled job before you became disabled and you could put your skills to use at a less demanding type of job, you won’t be approved for disability just because you are older.
Here is what the grids take into account.
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Options For Approval When The Grids Say Not Disabled
Even if the grids say you should be denied benefits, you can still win your claim by showing your limitations actually prevent you from doing the kind of work the SSA says you can do.
One way to win is to prove you cannot even do a sit-down job. For instance, if the SSA denied you benefits because you had a sedentary RFC, a college education, and transferable job skills, you could appeal and prove that your inability to use your hands and fingers don’t allow you to do any sit-down jobs. For more information, see our article on not being able to do sedentary work.
If the grids say that you have transferable skills but your functional limitations prevent you from using them, you can “reverse” the grid’s determination. For more information, see our article on proving you don’t have transferable job skills.
You can also be approved if you can show that you have a combination of exertional and non-exertional limitations that prevent you from working. For instance, if you have an RFC for light work, but you can’t stoop or reach overhead, you won’t be able to do many light jobs. Non-exertional limitations also include mental limitations such as difficulty with memory or understanding directions. For more information on how to win a claim using this strategy, see our article on combining exertional and non-exertional limitations to show disability.
Examples Of Using The Grid
Here are examples of when a person aged 55-59 can be approved based on the grids.
In one case, a 57-year-old woman applied for disability based her diabetes. She had a high school education but hadn’t worked for 25 years. The SSA determined that the claimant had the RFC to perform sedentary work only. The grids directed a finding of disabled and the claimant was approved.
- In another case, a 56-year-old man applied for disability because of mild emphysema. He had an 10th grade education and had worked his whole life as a waterman. The SSA found that despite his emphysema, he still had the RFC to do light work, but he had no transferable skills. The claimant was approved under the grids.
Here are some examples of when a person of “advanced age” would be found not disabled:
- In one case, a 55-year-old man filed for disability based on arthritis in both knees. He had a college education, and his past work was as a hotel manager. The SSA determined he had the RFC to perform sedentary work. The SSA also determined that the claimant had transferable skills, including the ability to manage groups and interact with customers. Given these factors, the grids directed a finding of not disabled.
- In another case, a 58-year-old man filed for disability based on hepatitis C. The claimant had a high school education and some college. The SSA determined that the claimant had the RFC to perform medium work. Because of his education level, the claimant was denied under the grids.
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Social Security Disability Under 50
Its easier to obtain disability benefits over 55 and younger workers applying for SSD should have realistic expectations. Mark was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in his mid-40s. It didnt come as a complete surprise, because Marks father had Parkinsons. However, Mark was younger than most people who develop this disease. He worked as a purchasing agent and was able to continue working for the next ten years. When he could no longer work, he applied for disability.
The SSA has a system that allows younger workers to qualify for SSD. However, since the person has not worked as long as they would have if they had reached retirement age, they receive a smaller monthly paycheck, said Kevin Bambury, attorney, Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC.
Social Security was not designed to replace more than 40 percent of the average retirees income. Those on SSDI receive an amount based on how long they have worked. In , the average disabled person received $1,257.88 a month, while the average retired worker gets $1,503 per month as of . One more reason to start saving for retirement at a young age is to have a cushion available in case you have to stop working early.
Older Workers Might Not Be Required To Adjust To A Different Type Of Work Even If Physically Able
One of the chief considerations in determining your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is your ability to engage in the work you did before or to adjust to doing some other type of work. However, the Social Security Administration recognizes that for older workers, it can be more difficult to adjust to a new type of work. Older workers are treated more favorably in the grid the Social Security Administration looks at in gauging eligibility for disability benefits after finding that you cannot perform the work you had been performing before becoming disabled.
There are four categories of functioning capacity used by the Social Security Administration, generally defined by the amount you are required to lift:
Sedentary does not involve lifting more than ten pounds
Light involves lifting of tens pounds or less frequently and occasional lifting of no more than twenty pounds
Medium involves frequent lifting of twenty five pounds and occasional lifting of fifty pounds
Heavy frequent lifting involved of more than fifty pounds
Remember, however, that these are generalizations and there are many special rules that pertain to the grid depending on education level, work experience and other factors.
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Disability Help Group: Winning Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules
For instance, Michael applied for benefits because he had back pain. He was 59 years old and had worked in as a janitor for many years. Unfortunately, Michael was denied for benefits. He had not seen his doctors in a while. However, his doctors had told him that he could not work as a janitor any more. Michael then turned to Disability Help Group. We helped him file an appeal. Our advocate suggested that he see a specialist for his back. Michael started seeing an orthopedist and pain management doctor. We also advised him to have an MRI of his back. At his hearing, the judge found that he could not do his past job as a janitor. The judge found that Michael could not lift or carry 50 pounds. As a result, Michael was limited to light work. The judge approved his case based on the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules.
Social Security Helps People Work Without Losing Benefits
Often, people would like to re-enter the workforce but are afraid they might lose disability benefits if they try to get a job. If you are age 18 through 64 and receive Social Security disability benefits, you can participate in Social Securityâs Ticket to Work program. The Ticket to Work program allows you to receive free employment support services and take advantage of work incentives that make it easier to work and still receive benefits such as health care. In some instances, you can receive cash benefits from Social Security, and you are protected if you have to stop working due to your disability. Learn about our Ticket to Work program or call1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 .
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The Social Security Act Defines Disability Very Strictly
Eligibility rules for Social Security’s disability program differ from those of private plans or other government agencies. Social Security doesn’t provide temporary or partial disability benefits, like workers’ compensation or veterans’ benefits do.
To receive disability benefits, a person must meet the definition of disability under the Social Security Act . A person is disabled under the Act if they can’t work due to a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. The person’s medical condition must prevent them from doing work that they did in the past, and it must prevent them from adjusting to other work.
Because the Act defines disability so strictly, Social Security disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired in the country. In fact, Social Security disability beneficiaries are more than three times as likely to die in a year as other people the same age. Among those who start receiving disability benefits at the age of 55, 1-in-6 men and 1-in-8 women die within five years of the onset of their disabilities.
Social Security Disability Rules If You Are Age 50 To 54
If you are between the ages of 50 and 54, you can win your Social Security Disability claim if:
- You are limited to sedentary work and did not acquire job skills that allow you to easily transfer to a sit-down job with little difficulty.
Those of you with a history of work at the light level or above, such as truck drivers, nurses, construction workers, and warehouse workers at places like and Walmart, have a good chance of winning your disability claim if you are between the ages of 50 and 54 and are limited to sedentary work because of a back injury, herniated disc, neck injury with radiculopathy,spinal cord injury, or knee, ankle, or hip injury.
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Social Security Turns Most People Down
As anyone who’s been through the process will tell you, it isn’t easy to get Social Security disability benefits. Our survey backed up that general impression. Overall, only about four in ten of our readers were ultimately approved for benefits.
Of course, the outcome for your individual claim will depend on whether you meet the medical and other eligibility requirements. Still, many people who sincerely believe they’re too disabled to work aren’t able to get benefits. Are there certain characteristics or circumstances that make some claims more likely than others to be approved? Our survey confirmed what you might suspect: It’s easier to get benefits for some medical conditions than others . But the results also pointed to other, less-obvious factors that make a difference.
“Go to your doctors, do all they ask, and follow up with your specialists. Have witnesses who can speak to the limitations your health issues create. My attorney helped make the process smoother and less stressful.”
Cecilia, 47, California
Social Security Disability Review After Age 55
If you have become disabled and are older than 55, you need to act immediately. The Social Security Administration considers the 55-59-year-old age bracket as advanced age. Because of this categorization, you may be eligible for benefits that a younger applicant would not receive.
The SSA will begin by evaluating your work capacity and your impairing condition by closely evaluating your disability. If your disability matches or is equal to the criteria listed for a condition in SSAs listing of impairments, you may be approved to receive benefits.The Odds of Winning Social Security Disability Over Age 55 Are In Your Favor
The SSA may also find that your condition does not meet the criteria listed in its listing of impairments. If this happens, you will be assessed based on SSAs Medical-Vocational Grid, which will look at:
- Transferability of work skills to other occupations
- Your work capacity, and
- Your education level
Your work capacity can also be called your Residual Functional Capacity . This basically determines what level of work you can still perform despite limitations caused by your condition. The most limited claimants can only perform sedentary work at best. The highest functioning claimants can perform very heavy work. This type of work includes lifting, moving, and manipulating very heavy objects.
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Early Retirement Vs Disability
Because the disability process can be long and complicated, and because for some, receiving disability benefits carries a stigma, some individuals choose to take early retirement. However, collecting Social Security retirement early rather than applying for disability has drawbacks that should be considered before making this decision.
If you take early retirement once you reach the age of 62, your retirement benefit amount will be permanently reduced. The amount your benefit is reduced depends on the number of months you have until full retirement age . This is called the “reduction factor.”
On the other hand, if you are awarded Social Security disability benefits , your benefit amount will be equal to what you were entitled to receive once you reached your full retirement age. This is because SSDI and retirement benefits are based on how much money you paid to the SSA. Once you reach full retirement age, your benefits simply convert to retirement benefits, but your payment amount will not change. Your future retirement benefits are not reduced even though you were able to collect Social Security early.
Also, you will get the benefit of a “disability freeze.” For the purpose of calculating your monthly Social Security benefit, the disability freeze disregards any low earning or zero earning years for the period that your disability prevented you from working.