While people of all ages can suffer from disabilities and might apply for Social Security Disability benefits, age can play a factor when the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking over an application. To help with the Disability Determination process, the SSA has set up several age categories.
Those ages 18 to 44 are considered young individuals. Those ages 45 to 49 are classified as younger individuals.
Ages 50 to 54 are applicants considered to be close to approaching advanced age. Individuals ages 55 and older are considered advanced age. Then, those who are 60 to 65 are considered approaching retirement age.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers age along with physical functioning ability, education, and work to determine if you qualify for benefits. You will also need a disability that matches a listing in the SSA's Blue Book, which is the list of conditions that qualify for disability. Additionally, the SSA generally considers advanced age to be a limiting factor in an individual's ability to transition to other occupations. Thus, being older helps an individual who is seeking disability benefits
If an individual is approaching advanced age, which means you are ages 50 to 54, the medical-vocational grid rules are much more favorable. If people from ages 50 to 54 are limited to sedentary work or even less and have a limited amount of work skills that can transfer, their chances of being approved for disability benefits increase significantly.
Here's a little more information on how you might be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits via a Medical-Vocational Allowance.
How Age Impacts SSDI
If an individual is 55 or older, the odds are much more in his or her favor. If you are 55 or older and have limited to performing less than a full range of medium work, he or she might receive disability benefits even if he or she has a high school education and he or she does not have transferrable job skills.
So, those who are 55 years of age or older have an increased chance of being awarded disability benefits based on the SSA guidelines. While people of all ages can be awarded disability benefits, the odds of a successful claim do increase with age.
With that being said, individuals who are applying for SSDI that are ages 55 and older do have a much greater chance of being approved for disability.
SSA Age Categories
The Social Security Administration’s age categories are necessary to use the Grid Rules to determine if you qualify for disability benefits. The age categories that the SSA uses are:
- Younger Individual (18-49)
- Close Approached Advanced Age (50-54)
- Advanced Age (55-59)
- Approaching Retirement Age (60-67)
Grid rules may seem intimidating but really they are designed to make sure that older workers have a fair chance at getting approved for benefits. The Grid rules recognize that as people get older their skills may become limited due to medical conditions, outdated because of changes in technology and culture, or simply not enough to keep up with the current skills that employers are looking for.
Those deficiencies in skills combined with medical conditions that can impact someone’s ability to work can mean that older workers have fewer opportunities to change careers, learn new jobs, or find a job in a different field if they have to change jobs because of an injury or illness.
Because of that older workers may qualify for disability benefits even though someone with their condition who is younger wouldn’t qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will look at the person’s age and their career prospects as well as their medical records, work history, education, and other factors to determine if that person is capable of finding a different type of work or not. If the SSA decides someone is not able to find any other type of work that they can do then that person will be eligible to apply for SSDI.
Grid Rules and SSDI
The SSA has something called a "Grid of Rules." These rules make the odds of being approved for benefits much better for those who are 50 and older. More specifically, this means that the odds are generally favorable for those applying for disability benefits who are reaching advanced age or fall in the category of 50 to 54 years old.
Grid rules were set to help determine eligibility for applicants who don't meet a medical impairment listing. So, with approach disability is determined using age, the RFC level ranging from sedentary to heavy work, education background, work experience and transferable skills.
Education also comes into play because the Social Security Administration (SSA) thinks that the higher your education level, the easier it is for you to find work.
It is important that your treating physicians give an accurate opinion on your residual functioning capacity (RFC) and in addition to completing the questions on the form, the physicians should note any non-exertional limitations that you might suffer.
These limitations might include forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. By fully understanding all of your limitations along with your age, skills, and educational background, Disability Determination Services will be more accurately determine if you are unable to work and eligible to receive benefits.
To aid in the disability decision-making process, Social Security has established age categories. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 44 are considered young, those between the ages of 45 and 49 are considered "younger," those between the ages of 50 and 54 are considered to be close to advanced age, those between the ages of 55 and over are considered advanced age, and those between the ages of 60 and 65 are considered to be close to retirement age.
These age groupings, as well as an individual's residual functional capacity (the ability to conduct sedentary, light, medium, and heavy weight labor), the skill level of an individual's previous work, and the individual's education, are used by Social Security to determine an individual's impairment.
Early retirement vs. Disability Benefits
Because the disability procedure can be lengthy and complicated, and because getting disability benefits can be difficult for others, some people choose to retire early. However, there are disadvantages to taking early Social Security retirement rather than filing for disability benefits, which should be addressed before making this option.
Your retirement benefit amount will be permanently lowered if you retire before reaching the age of 62. The amount by which your pension is lowered is determined by how many months you have until you reach full retirement age. This is referred to as the "reduction factor."
If you are given disability payments, your benefit amount will be equal to what you would have been entitled to once you reached full retirement age. This is because SSDI and retirement payments are determined by the amount of money you paid to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in taxes. Your benefits will simply switch to retirement benefits once you reach full retirement age, but your monthly amount will not change
Individuals who are represented by a disability advocate or attorney may be much more likely to be approved for disability benefits. If you have questions about the disability claims process or the Grid of rules, consult with an attorney or advocate right away.
Social Security Disability Age Categories
The SSA divides applicants into the following age groups when making decisions about eligibility for disability benefits. The older you are the more likely you are to be approved. This is because there is less chance of gaining employment at an older age than a younger age. The groups are:
- 18 to 49 years of age;
- 50 to 54 years;
- 55 years and over;
- 60 years and over.
As well as age, education level also helps to determine who is eligible for disability benefits. The lower your educational level is, the more likely you are to get approved. This is because the SSA knows it is more difficult for people with less education to find suitable jobs. The SSA divides education levels in the following way:
- the applicant has graduated from high school or higher and has completed a recent skilled training;
- the applicant is at least a high school graduate or higher but without recent skilled training;
- the applicant only has a limited education which is normally 11th grade and below, and is unable to read and write.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Disability Benefit?
The minimum age for a person to receive a social security disability benefit (SSDI) based on the applicants earnings record is 18. However, an 18 year can get disability based on parents earning records. This is called a Childhood Disability Beneficiary (CDB) which may be awarded to a person who is at least 18 years old, has been disabled before the age of 22 years and whose parent worked and paid Social Security taxes is now retired, disabled or deceased. Also a Disabled Widows/Widowers Benefit (DWB) may be paid to people age 50 years or older whose deceased spouse paid Social Security taxes.
What is SSI?
If a person with a disabling medical condition doesn’t qualify for SSDI Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides disability benefits to those who have limited income and have not paid sufficient social security taxes to be eligible for SSDI and have an eligible medical condition including children. There is no minimum age set for a person to qualify for these benefits.