Winning Disability Benefits When You’re Over 50


When you turn 50, your age becomes an important factor in Social Security Disability determinations. The disability standard shifts and becomes easier at age 50. If you’re under 50, Social Security considers you a “younger individual.” You must prove your inability to perform ALL competitive employment to obtain benefits. This is often misunderstood by potential claimants who contact our office.

For example, if you’re in your forties and suffer a back injury that leaves you unable to perform the physical demanding factory work that you performed for most of your working life. However, this fact alone is not enough to prove disability. Social Security will ask you if there is any other work you can hypothetically perform. This includes less physically demanding “sit-down” work like a ticket taker or watching a security screen.

If you could hypothetically perform a sit down type job, then you are not considered disabled. Social Security will not consider that it may be difficult to find such a job or that this hypothetical job will not provide you with same level of financial support of your prior job. However, if you’re between the ages of 50 and 54, you are labeled as “closely approaching advanced age” (Social Security’s label – not mine!). If you’re not able to perform physically demanding factory job and can only perform a “sit down” job, you are considered to be disabled under Social Security’s Medical Vocational Guidelines, also known as the Grid Rules.

Social Security wisely assumes that it’s more difficult for you to perform physically demanding jobs as you age. At ages 55 – 59 you are considered to be of “advanced age” and the rules shift again and become even easier to prove your disability. So, as you can see, one advantage to growing older is an easier standard to prove disability under Social Security’s rules.

No matter your age, if you need help with Social Security Disability benefits, call us. From applying to appealing, at Levine Benjamin, we can help you every step of the way.

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