Social Security Disability Resource Center

Overview | How to Qualify | Common Mistakes |
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay |
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips |

At age 50 over, it becomes easier to be approved for disability benefits

According to one report, more Americans are working later in life, as compared to previous years, and injuries from work activity are on a steep rise as a result. Why should work injuries increase when more older workers are in the workforce? As the report stated, such workers are at greater risk for bone breaks, muscular injuries, and fractures. According to statistical information provided by the Bureau of Labor statistics, injuries among older workers tend to increase steadily with age and often involve back pain and problems with major joints.

None of this was surprising, of course. And the way the U.S. economy is changing, we can expect to hear more such reports as individuals who are in their fifties try to stay employed longer. However, susceptibility to illness and injury, in a sense, is factored into decisions on social security disability and SSI disability claims. This is because most decisions on claims are made through a grid of rules that take into consideration a person's age, their level of work skills, age, education, and their remaining functional capabilities.

Where a person falls on the grid (more education or less, being a younger or older individual, having more skills or fewer skills, having more functional limitations or less) will determine whether or not they will be considered disabled by the social security administration. And, of course, one of the primary determinants of how a decision will go, is a person's age.

For Social Security Disability and SSI claims, the "magic age numbers" are 50 and 55.

At age 50, it becomes a bit easier to be approved for disability benefits using the social security administration's system of sequential evaluation (*see description below) and at age 55 it come easier still.

Why is this the case? Part of the answer is that this is SSA's way of acknowledging that workers, as they age, are less able to transition to other forms of work because their own skills may become increasingly outdated and because it becomes more difficult to gain new skills or update an existing skill set.

However, there is no denying the fact that individuals have more health problems as they age and that these problems are more likely to impair functional capacity than might be the case for younger workers. Just as an older car, even one meticulously maintained, will begin to have more problems as a function of age, so, too, will older people have more problems and become less resilient to "bouncing back" from injury and illness.

Of course, a disability benefit system that did not acknowledge these realities would be completely unsympathetic to the realities of life. Fortunately, the disability benefit system operated by the U.S. Social Security Administration does allow age to play a substantial role in determining medical vocational outcomes on SSDI and SSI disability claims.

Now, can you win disability benefits if you are a younger individual? Yes, and it happens all the time. The same rules apply. Either a person must satisfy the requirements of a listing, or their condition must be severe enough that it has lasted (or will last) for a year while preventing the person from working and earning a substantial and gainful income (SGA) at a former past job, or at some type of other work.

Obviously, it will usually be more difficult for a younger individual to win benefits at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels. However, the odds will improve at a disability hearing if a claimant has able representation (on this, the statistics are fairly clear and representation can increase the likelihood of winning by as much as fifty percent).

*The steps of Sequential Evaluation that are used by disability examiners and judges to decide claims:

1) Is the claimant working and earning a substantial and gainful income? (if the answer is yes, the claim is denied).

2) Does the claimant have a severe impairment (if the answer is no, the claim is denied).

3) Does the claimant's medical records satisfy the criteria of a disability listing (if the answer is no, the decision-maker proceeds to step 4).

4) Is the claimant unable to perform their relevant past work? (if the answer is yes, proceed to step 5; if the answer is no, the claim is denied).

5) Is the claimant unable to perform any other work that their medical and vocational profile might suit them for? (If the answer is yes, the case may be approved; if the answer is no (meaning a person can do some type of other work), the claim is denied.

  • Index of Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

  • 56 Answers to Social Security Disability SSI Questions

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Back Pay Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    How long does it take for Social Security Disability or SSI?

    Social Security Disability SSI Awards and Award Notices

    Tips, Mistakes, How to Qualify, and How to Win Disability

    Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Disability Qualifications and How to Qualify for Disability Benefits

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI, How to Win

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Social Security Disability and SSI Appeal Process - How to file appeals

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    SSI Disability Benefits, Questions and Answers

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Information to start with regarding Disability Claims

    An Overview of Social Security Disability and SSI

    What is considered a Disabling condition by Social Security?

    The Disability Requirements to be eligible for SSD and SSI Benefits

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability and SSI Applications

    Social Security Disability SSI List of Conditions and Impairments

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Related pages:

    Chances of winning a Social Security Disability Benefits hearing
    Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal or SSI Appeal
    Do Lawyers Improve The Chances of Winning Social Security Disability or SSI?
    How to improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits?
    How does SSA determine if a claim will be a denial or an approval?
    Do you have to quit your job before filing for disability?
    Can you qualify for Social Security Disability on the basis of fibromyalgia?
    What are the requirements and criteria for social security disability?
    Can you get disability if you are younger age?
    Disability at age 50 or older
    Social Security Disability SSI and proving you can't work
    How Residual Functional Capacity affects Social Security Disability and SSI claims
    If I am waiting for a Disability Hearing, how often should I see my doctor?
    Calling Social Security about a Disability Exam that was scheduled
    How does social security decide your disability claim?

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

    How to file for disability, filing tips
    What to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits
    Applying for disability benefits, SSI and SSDI
    What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability?
    Will you get disability back pay?
    Social Security Disability And SSI Qualifications
    Permanent Disability Qualifications for SSD and SSI
    Social Security Disability SSI status
    Disability lawyer representation, finding lawyers
    Who will qualify for disability and what qualifying is based on
    Qualifications for Disability Benefits
    Important points about filing for disability
    How long does it take to get disability after applying?
    Am I Eligible For Social Security Disability?
    Who is eligible for SSI disability?
    How to get disability in Florida