How Your Age Impacts Your Social Security Disability Claim
Filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a complex and complicated process. Many people are denied based on a variety of factors, including reasons for filing, age, residual functional capacity (RFC), education, and previous areas of work. Navigating your claim can be frustrating, so hiring a Social Security lawyer is one of the best choices you can make to help guide you through the SSDI application process.
Age can play a role in whether you are approved to receive SSDI benefits, along with the medical reasons for your inability to work. The Social Security Administration is primarily concerned with whether you can work, and in what capacity. The answer to this question changes with age, people over 50 may be approved while people under 50 may be denied. It’s important to understand the determining eligibility factors of approval for SSDI before you apply.
Am I eligible for SSDI?
There are five factors in the SSDI evaluation process, which they use to determine whether you are eligible to receive benefits. This evaluation process is used for anyone over the age of 18, even adult children who have previously been on SSDI for significant mental or physical impairments.
1. Are you currently working?
The first evaluation question will be to determine if you can work, and what kind of work tasks you can perform. They separate your residual functional capacity, or RFC, into four categories of physical work: Sedentary work, light work, medium work, and heavy work. Heavy work includes frequent walking, lifting, and carrying up to 50 pounds. Medium work includes lifting and carrying up to 25 pounds; light work is up to 20 pounds. Sedentary work is minimal lifting or carrying of anything more than 10 pounds.
If you have performed heavy work in the past and you can no longer do so due to your injury or disability, you may be able to work in other, lighter work capacities. If your prior job was sedentary and you can still perform sedentary work, your claim likely won’t be approved.
If you are unable to attend work regularly, work a full shift, or you’re unable to be productive while at work, these are factors that are taken into account with the second evaluation criteria.
2. How severe is your medical condition?
This is when the SSA takes a look at your medical history, your mental health history if necessary, and any other factors that may come into the equation when they are deciding if you can still be a productive employee of the workforce. This is also when they will decide if your condition so severely limits your ability to work regularly or productively that it warrants a disability.
The medical condition must be expected to be a continuous issue that will interfere with your ability to work for at least one year. If you’ve been seriously injured on the job, you should consult a workers’ compensation attorney to help you receive additional benefits through your company’s policy.
3. Is your condition on the list of known impairments?
If your condition is severe enough to be listed on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, and the impairment is known to impede work, you will likely be granted benefits at this stage of the evaluation process. If the SSA needs more information or is unsure about the nature of your claimed impairment, they will proceed to the next criteria.
4. Can you return to the work you’ve performed previously?
The SSA looks at your work history over the last 15 years and assesses what kinds of skills you’ve gained and what environments you’ve been able to function productively in. Unfortunately, it does not matter if your prior jobs are in a field that no longer employs people in the United States, or if the company you used to work for has closed. If the SSA finds that you can perform any of these prior jobs, they will deny your benefits at this stage.
5. Can you do work in another field?
This is where factors such as age and education come heavily into the evaluation process. If you have the proper education to enter a lighter-work field and your medical and/or mental conditions do not significantly impair you, then your benefits will be denied.
However, if you are over 50, your age is taken into account in deciding if you can easily transition into another line of work. People over 50 may be granted benefits more readily due to learning and training curves, which can be more difficult for older people. People in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are considered to be of prime physical working age and are subject to more stringent assessments by the SSA. As unfair as that may sound, if you’re over 50, you may have a better chance of having your claim approved.
What should I do next?
If you still wish to proceed with your SSDI claim, it is wise to hire a Social Security lawyer to assist you with your claim. Not only will your Social Security Disability lawyers be able to gather medical documentation to support your claim, but they can also write your claim in a way that may be more likely to be approved.
If you’re in Michigan and you’re searching for a Social Security benefits lawyer to help you with your claim, don’t delay. Call Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. at 1-866-MICH LAW (1-866-642-4529). The sooner you can get your SSDI claim process started, the sooner you will know what the next steps will be for your life and career.