How Does Age Affect a Disability Claim?

Posted July 12, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers several factors to establish an individual’s entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, and age is one of those criteria. If you are 50 years old or older when applying for Social Security disability, it may be easier for you to get approved for disability benefits than it is for a younger person. This is because the SSA knows it can be harder for an older person to learn a new job skill or to make the transition into a new work place. The SSA refers to this as making a “vocational adjustment.”

To account for the difficulty older claimants may have making vocational adjustments, the SSA has something called the “grid rules” it uses to decide some disability claims. The grid rules are one way you can get approved for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. Social Security generally uses the grid rules only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the recent past.

These grid rules use the following factors to determine whether an applicant is disabled:

  • applicant’s age
  • applicant’s education level
  • the skill level of the applicant’s past work
  • whether the applicant learned any skills that can be used in a different job, and
  • the applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

For the purposes of the grids, the SSA divides applicants into the following age groups:

  • younger individuals (18 through 49)
  • closely approaching advanced age (50 to 54)
  • advanced age (55 and over), and
  • closely approaching retirement age (60 and over).

The older you are, the less likely you are to have transferable skills into other occupations. For example, if an individual is 55 or older and is limited even to light work, or less than a full range of medium work, they may be approved for disability even if they have a high school education and their prior work was unskilled or their skills are not transferable. This is because Social Security expects a worker to take on very little vocational adjustment at this age.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

See the Grids here:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®