Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) are designed to help those with a disability that keeps them from working. Unfortunately, even those suffering from a disabling condition can be denied SSDI benefits. It is harder to receive Social Security Disability benefits now than at any time in history. The percentage of claimants receiving disability benefits today is much lower than just 2 years ago and continues to get more difficult. The Social Security Administration sets strict guidelines to determine who is disabled, and who is eligible to receive SSDI benefits. Applying for SSDI benefits can be difficult, and the process is complicated. For applicants who are 50 years and older, your age can be a significant factor in determining whether you are eligible to receive SSDI benefits. Individuals under 50 years old and applying for Social Security Disability benefits have a much more difficult case than a claimant who is older than 50 years of age. This is why we generally only represent claimants who are over age 50.
Social Security treats individuals who are older than 50 years of age according to a special set of rules. Under these rules it is easier to win a disability case when a claimant is over age 50 and can no longer do the sort of work he or she has done in the past. This is because Social Security knows you may not be able to complete additional vocational training or education to learn a new job, even when a new job is less physically demanding.
A younger claimant (under 50 years of age) who is unable to do his or her regular job duties will not be able to rely on his or her inability to work his or her own occupation but will have to do any other job that he or she is mentally or physically capable of performing.
For a younger claimant, the court will assess their exertional and non-exertional abilities to see if they can perform the activities of a sedentary occupation, or if they are capable of light or medium work. It is not important whether a person could execute his or her previous job responsibilities, but whether they are capable of doing any type of work (sedentary, light or medium work) based upon their limitations or impairments.
The nature and extent of functional limitations can be the determining factor in whether a significant number of jobs are available for people under the age of 50. Social Security relies on vocational expert testimony to determine if there is significant depletion of job skills allowing the claimant to perform sedentary, light, or medium job skills. The ability to do skilled or semi-skilled jobs, light work or medium work, opens more job options for the claimant and makes a determination of disability more difficult. The more a claimant can do makes it more difficult for him or her to get a favorable decision. After all, if you can work, you are not entitled to benefits.
The “grids” are tables of information that Social Security uses to determine if a claimant is disabled based on age, education, and previous work experience. The “grids” are generally not as favorable for an individual under 50 years old, as the “grids” will generally find the individual able to work. For example, in a grid for sedentary work, a younger individual who is illiterate or unable to communicate in English and is unskilled would be found disabled. If the claimant is not illiterate or if he or she can communicate in English, then they would not be found disabled.
If a claimant is over 50 years old and are limited to unskilled, sedentary work, Social Security will presume that they are unable to transition to other work due to their age. This can make a huge difference for their claim. A person limited to unskilled, sedentary work may lose a disability claim if filed at age 48, but will win it at age 50.
At age 55 the rules become even more favorable. If a claimant is age 55 and over, can do no more than light work, and has no transferable skills, they are usually found disabled.
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