Social Security Disability, SSI and Being Over the Age of Fifty

Does age play a role in the outcome of listings are approval criteria for a finite set of physical and mental conditions -- meet or equal the listing criteria for a certain illness and you may be approved for benefits).

2. If you are an adult and your condition or conditions do not satisfy the criteria of an adult impairment listing (in the Social security list of impairments, or blue book), then an approval will need to be achieved via the awarding of a medical vocational allowance. Such allowances give adults an advantage based on age.

Basically, as the medical vocational disability requirements currently dictate, the ages fifty and fifty-five are noteworthy. In many cases, there is a distinct advantage to being 50 years of age or older. And for individuals who are 55 or older, the rules for SSD and SSI become even more favorable.

Why is this the case? Simply because, as unfair as the disability system is, it does incorporate some level of fairness by acknowledging that individuals who are over fifty, or fifty-five, will have more difficulty switching to different types of work. This comes into play when a disability claim is being evaluated and it is clear to the decision-maker (a disability examiner or judge) that the claimant cannot return to their former work. Many would think that this would be the "end of it" and that the claimant would be approved for benefits on this basis.

However, the disability system does not work like this. In the SSD and SSI disability claim system, if you cannot return to your past work on the basis of a disabling condition, the possibility still exists that you may be denied on the basis of being able to perform some type of other work.

And that's where individuals who are 50 and older, and 55 and older, are given consideration. Because the simple truth is, many individuals in these age groups will have more limited opportunities to find other types of work due to:

A) their health or mental conditions,

B) the fact that their job skills may not be as valuable in the marketplace as they once were, and

C) due to the real-world reality that many employers will not hire older workers since they perceive that older workers will be more difficult to train, may require higher rates of compensation, and may be more likely to file health insurance claims (risking higher premium costs for employer-provided heath care).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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