Overview of Disability

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How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

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Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

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How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

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Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

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SSDRC Disability Blog

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.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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