Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50

Obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can be difficult at any age because of the rigorous criteria that SSD applicants must meet. If you are over the age of 50, you may be more likely to receive a favorable claim decision, but this outcome is not guaranteed. At the Ankin Law, LLC, we can help you prepare a claim that proves you cannot work because of your age, medical condition and other factors.

Person fills out a Social Security Disability claim form after the age of 50.

Our attorneys are highly familiar with the SSD claim evaluation process and the ways that age may affect the outcome of your claim. We can assist you in understanding Social Security’s strict requirements and putting together a convincing, well-documented claim.

Assessing Your Disabling Condition

Your age may affect your SSD claim if you suffer from a condition that Social Security does not automatically consider disabling. There are many conditions that Social Security recognizes as disabling, based on a diagnosis alone or based on the accompanying symptoms. If you suffer from one of these conditions, you automatically qualify for SSD benefits on a medical level, and your age is irrelevant.

Like many people, however, you may suffer from a condition that is not automatically deemed disabling. If this is the case, a Social Security claims examiner evaluates whether your condition reasonably permits you to work. Specifically, the claims examiner decides whether you can return to any prior jobs or pursue another line of work. There are several factors that Social Security uses to judge whether you can work gainfully, including your age.

The Vocational Evaluation Process

Social Security claims examiners are required to use set guidelines to determine whether you are capable of working. If you meet certain criteria, a claims examiner must find that you are disabled. During this evaluation process, a claims examiner takes all of the following factors into account:

  • Your age
  • The extent of your education
  • Your ability to communicate in English
  • Your work experience and vocational skills
  • The physical level of work that you can perform

Under Social Security’s criteria, if you are highly educated or capable of physical labor, you are less likely to receive SSD benefits. This is because you theoretically have more job opportunities available. If you have limited education and few vocational skills, and if you can only do sedentary work, you are more likely to qualify for SSD benefits. If you are applying at an older age, your chances of receiving SSD benefits improve further.

Effects of Age on SSD Claims

You may be more likely to receive SSD benefits when you apply after age 50 for a few reasons. Social Security recognizes that learning new skills and changing jobs is often harder for older adults. As a result, older applicants with limited transferrable skills and low levels of education are more likely to be considered disabled. A claims examiner also may find that it is unreasonable to ask you to complete vocational training if you have few working years left.

Regardless of your age, however, SSD claim approval is never a certainty. You must clearly document your physical or mental restrictions and any other factors that limit your ability to work. Our attorneys can help you secure all of the evidence needed to strengthen your claim.

Documenting Your Disability

Social Security claims examiners often make decisions based on the available medical evidence and the functional restrictions that this evidence indicates. If you prove that you suffer from significant mental or physical impairments, a claims examiner is more likely to find that few jobs are reasonably available to you.

A claims examiner can determine your functional capabilities based on the medical records that you provide. However, we generally recommend that SSD applicants ask their treating physicians to directly assess their functional capabilities. This eliminates the risk that a claims examiner will independently reach the wrong conclusion.

Our attorneys can help you secure all of the relevant medical records from your current and former treating physicians. We can also look for any outdated evidence or gaps in your medical history that may provoke questions from a claims examiner. Then, you can seek additional medical treatment or documentation before filing your claim. This can reduce the risk of delays or denials.

Additional Supporting Evidence

When you make your SSD claim, you will also need to provide detailed information about your education and work history. Social Security will ask for descriptions of your past job duties, including physical demands, managerial responsibilities, special equipment use and technical skills. We can help you secure documentation for all of your relevant work experience.

When reviewing your vocational background, a claims examiner is only allowed to consider jobs that you held relatively recently and for sufficient periods of time. We can ensure that a claims examiner does not incorrectly consider jobs that should not be taken into account, such as temporary jobs. This can reduce the risk that your claim will be denied because your claims examiner believes you are still capable of working.

Get Advice Before Applying

At the Ankin Law, LLC, we understand all of the factors that Social Security considers when determining whether you qualify for SSD benefits. We are ready to apply our knowledge and experience to assist you in pursuing the benefits that you need. Our attorneys will make every effort to help you secure a favorable decision as quickly as possible.

Instead of risking unnecessary delays or unfavorable claim decisions, contact us for assistance. We can schedule a free consultation to assess your case and determine how your age may affect your eligibility for SSD benefits.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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