Age 50 is Important to Social Security Disability

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

It’s simple and complicated at the same time. In the evaluation of whether a claimant qualifies for Social Security Disability, one of the considerations is the claimant’s age. Social Security’s rules assume that as a worker ages, the worker becomes less able learn and adjust to new jobs.

Social Security formalizes the consideration of age, and the first important consideration is at age 50. Generally, prior to age 50, a claimant must not be able to do any job at all. For example, a car mechanic may not be able to be a mechanic any more, but she might be able to a cashier at a retail store, or monitor security cameras. If so, the claimant would not be disabled. However, at age 50, the claimant’s education and work experience come into play strongly for the first time. At age 50 and after, even though the claimant may be able to do a sedentary job, if the person’s education level is low, and the previous work was not sedentary, often Social Security will find the worker disabled. The other major consideration is what kind of work the person has done for the last fifteen years. If that work is unskilled, or has no skills that can transfer to sedentary work, the person is usually found disabled.

Social Security actually makes its decision by applying a claimant’s age, education and work history to a so-called “Grid.” The Grid has rules to direct a finding of “Disabled” or “Not Disabled.” For example, in general, under one of the rules, a finding of “disabled” results for a worker who is age 50, has a high school education, and for the last fifteen years has not performed sedentary work or work with transferable skills.

There are also Grid rules for work requiring more exertion than sedentary work, and they all favor granting Social Security Disability benefits as workers get older, have less education, and have performed more arduous work without transferable skills.