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  • SSDI Rules After 50

    It is common for older Americans to develop certain illnesses and age-related diseases. The conditions can cause many individuals to reach a disabled state by the age of 50 years old. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers the age of 50 as an “advanced age” for the purpose of determining disability.

    It has become widely accepted that 50 is the age when otherwise benign health problems can develop into more serious conditions. Many people do not realize that it gets easier to seek and qualify for disability benefits after the age of 50. This is especially the case if they have a medical condition that limits their ability to work or if they have more than one medical condition.

    The amount of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits individuals receive after 50 is based on the work credits accumulated in their work history. The SSA acknowledges that it can be more difficult for older people to learn new job skills or transition to a new work environment, referring it to as making a “vocational adjustment.” To account for this difficulty, there are special rules that apply to disability programs for people over 50. This includes a particular set called the “grid rules.”

    The grid rules, also called the “grids,” are a way individuals can get approved for disability benefits through a medical vocational allowance. The SSA usually only uses the grid rules after it has been determined you are unable to do the jobs you performed in the recent past. The following factors are used to determine if an individual is disabled:

    • Applicant’s age: The SSA divides applicants into age groups, consisting of younger individuals (18 to 49 years old), closely approaching advanced age (50 to 54 years old), advanced age (55 years old and over), and closely approaching retirement age (60 years old and over). The older your age, the easier it is to get approved using the grids.
    • Applicant’s education level: The lower your level of education, the more likely you will get approved under the grid rules. The SSA divides applicants into education levels, including high school graduate, high school graduate with recent training for skilled work, limited education of 11th grade or below, and illiterate or unable to communicate using the English language. Less education typically means a higher chance of getting approval for a disability claim.
    • Applicant’s past work skill level: The SSA classifies jobs as unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled. Individuals with less experience and an unskilled work history are more likely to get approved for disability benefits. If an applicant is unskilled and can perform only light work, their likelihood of eligibility for benefits also increases.
    • Applicant’s new skills: If an applicant’s past work was skilled or semi-skilled, the SSA will consider whether any new skills were learned that could be used in another position. The SSA will also evaluate whether applicants have skills from previous jobs that you could be transferred to new and similar position. These are called “transferable skills.” The more transferable skills you have, the harder it is to win your disability claim.
    • Applicant’s RFC: A person’s residual functioning capacity (RFC) is their remaining ability to do work on a regular and full-time basis. The SSA uses objective medical evidence to assess your ability to do certain job-related activities, such as standing, lifting, and walking. An RFC is given for sedentary work, light work, medium work, and heavy work. Generally, the higher your RFC, the harder it is to get approved under the grids.

    The SSA’s final decision is a combination of all the factors that come under grid rules. The SSA regularly appoints vocational experts who can testify with regard to the individuals’ vocational capabilities in a work setting and transferability of skills from a previous occupation to a new one.

    What Rules Do I Need to Know to Apply for Disability After 50?

    When you apply for disability benefits, the SSA will assess your medical condition to determine if it serious enough to prevent you from performing any kind of meaningful work. Therefore, it is a good idea to check whether your condition is listed in the SSA’s blue book.

    It is helpful to have a knowledgeable lawyer review your application before you submit it. An experienced lawyer can help determine your likelihood of being approved for disability benefits and discuss all options with you.

    The age of 50 is when many rules change for disability benefits. A knowledgeable lawyer understands the ways it can be easier for individuals over 50 to get the SSD benefits they need at that age and will work with you to increase your chances of getting approved.

    It is also important to keep in mind that even if your medical condition does not make you eligible for disability benefits, you may be able to seek approval in other ways. Individuals who have impairments that are not related to physical capacity, such as mental health issues, may be able to get approved for disability beyond the guidelines of the grid rules. People with more than one medical condition can also get approved more easily for disability.

    The grid rules are provided to help the SSA determine how disabled an individual is, regardless of their medical condition and official diagnosis. An experienced lawyer will know how to help you obtain financial assistance through all available avenues.

    It is quite common for applicants in any of the above situations to initially be denied disability benefits and need to file for reconsideration and if denied again, file an appeal. Many applicants have to appeal decisions more than once before successfully getting approved for disability benefits. In these cases, it is wise to hire an experienced lawyer to assist with your matter.

    Galfand Berger Icon Millions of disabled workers are granted SSDI benefits after 50. Disability rules are more flexible for older workers. If you are 50 or older and believe you have a valid disability claim, a lawyer can help you.

    Philadelphia Social Security Disability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Disabled Workers Who Need SSDI Benefits

    If you are an older worker who has become disabled, you may have a better chance at getting the benefits you need than you realize. A Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyer at Galfand Berger LLP can handle any potential appeals or other issues that may arise. It is important to have the proper legal guidance in order to receive the full benefits you need in a timely fashion. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.