How Does My Age Affect My Social Security Disability Claim?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers several factors to establish an individual’s entitlement to Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, and age is one of those criteria.
Social Security Disability Vocational Guidelines
The SSA has established vocational guidelines to aid disability claims examiners in their decision-making process. These medical-vocational guidelines have become known as the “medical-vocational grid,” or simply “the grid.”
How the Grid Affects Your Disability Benefits
What does the grid have to do with your age? How do either affect your ability to receive Social Security disability? The grid takes into consideration factors other than medical information when making a disability decision. These other factors include your age, skills, and education, in addition to your residual functional capacity. (***Per the SSA, your residual functional capacity assessment is your impairments, and any related symptoms, such as pain, which may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your residual functional capacity is the most you can still do despite your limitations.)
Social Security has set up four age categories to help with the disability decision process:
- “Younger individual” is labeled by ages 45-49 and those below age 45,
- “Closely approaching advanced age” means age 50-54,
- “Advanced age” means age 55 and over;
- “Closely approaching retirement age” means age 60 and over.
Social Security uses these age groups, along with an individual’s residual functional capacity, the skill level of an individual’s past work, and the individual’s education to establish an individual’s disability. For example, if you are under the age of 50, you have little formal education, and you are limited to sedentary work, you would most likely be denied disability if you are literate, even if you haven’t performed skilled work before. However, using the same example, if you are over 50, you are much more likely to be granted disability benefits.
The medical-vocational grid rules are generally favorable if an individual is approaching advanced age (ages 50 – 54). However, the Social Security medical-vocational rules are most favorable to individuals who are 55 and older. Social Security expects a worker to take on very little vocational retraining at this age.
These are just examples. Even if you do not fit the medical-vocational classifications for an approval at your age exactly, there is still a chance that your disability claim is winnable.
To learn more about how we can help you file for social security benefits, please contact our office by calling us today for a free consultation at 618-252-7422.