What are my chances of getting disability at age 45?
There is no way to know your chances of getting disability at the age of 45, because there are many variables to consider. If you have a disabling condition that meets or equals the criteria of a Social Security impairment listing, you are a medical approval for disability provided you meet all of the non-medical requirements of the disability program you are filing for. If you meet or equal a listing for SSD or SSI, your age does not impact the disability determination.
Age becomes a consideration when you do not have a disabling condition that meets or equals an impairment listing (and the other factors that come into play with age are job skills, level of education, and something known as residual functional capacity). When you do not qualify for a disability through a listing, you may still be able to get Social Security Disability through a medical vocational allowance.
Social Security uses a medical vocational grid to help make these determinations. Age is an important part of this grid. If you are under the age of 50, you are considered a younger individual and it is more difficult to be approved. For the most part, individuals who are age 45-49 are found not disabled under the criteria listed for younger individuals. This does not mean an approval is impossible just more difficult.
For example, if you are uneducated (no high school degree, or you cannot communicate in English), and you have had no work or your work has been unskilled work for the past 15 years, you might be approved for disability if you are limited to sedentary work. Another example would be if you were limited to less than sedentary work.
Each disability case has unique factors, so it is hard to say with certainty that you would be denied disability if you are 45 years old. And, of course, this highlights some of the complexity in understanding how the disability system actually works and why it can be practical to get a disability attorney to help with one's SSD or SSI case.
If you are filing for disability on the basis of a non-exertional disabling condition, the grid is not very useful, although age seems to often be a consideration.
With non- exertional impairments, the disability examiner has to consider the severity of the limitations imposed upon you by your mental condition. If you are so limited that you are not functionally able to work, you may get disability at a younger age. It really just depends upon the objective medical evidence in your disability case file.
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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