Most of us believe that we can't apply for Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits unless we're 65 years of age or older. However, individuals of all ages can be approved for Social Security Disability benefits, as long as they meet certain stipulations.
Over two million disability applications make it to the Social Security Administration on a yearly basis, and less than half of those are approved during the initial application process. The remainder are left to fight for their benefits through a disability appeal process.
In some cases, age may indeed affect a disability claim. Determinations are set by both vocational as well as medical guidelines which are determined by the Social Security Administration. In some cases, those guidelines focus on a person's age and disability, though individuals are not automatically disqualified for benefits just because they're of a certain age.
Can You Work?
The main determining factor for approval of a Social Security Disability claim is your ability to work. If the Social Security Administration determines that medical records and recommendations by doctors lead them to believe that a person is unable to engage in any sort of gainful employment, then chances are they'll be awarded Social Security Disability benefits, regardless of age.
Generally, individuals over 50 years of age are more likely to be approved for disability benefits, but even individuals who are under 45 years of age may receive benefits if they are found to be unable to perform work in any of the four categories that the Social Security Administration defines as "functional capacities."
These four categories include light work, sedentary work, medium work and heavyweight work. If an individual, no matter their age, is proven to be unable to engage even the sedentary level of work due to their disability, he or she most likely will be approved to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Long-term disability benefits may be denied if an individual, regardless of age, can eventually return to a workplace environment in a different capacity from what they worked in before. For example, if a 30-year-old construction worker can no longer operate machinery but can be trained to work in an office, then benefits will be denied.
An individual who is classified as disabled before the age of 22 may also be eligible for children's benefits if a parent receives retirement or disability benefits or is deceased. In such cases, it is not required that the adult child have a work history. However, if that child is working, they are not "allowed" to earn more than $1,000 a month.
In other cases, adult children may also receive disability benefits according to their own record and are sometimes entitled to higher benefits than benefits obtained through their parent's work history and record.
How To Determine Eligibility For Disability Benefits
In order to determine eligibility for disability benefits for a disabled adult "child" the Social Security Disability Determination Services will evaluate the disability for children aged 18 or over using the same guidelines that are used to evaluate other adult disabilities.
A five-step process decides if a person is considered disabled, regardless of age. Five questions/steps to the process include:
- Is your medical condition "severe?”
- Are you working?
- Can you do the work you did before?
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
- Can you do any other type of work?
Consult with a Social Security Attorney
If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you may want to seek the counsel of a Social Security Disability attorney. A lawyer who has experience working with Social Security Disability claims can help you file a claim that contains the kind of information the SSA is looking for when they determine whether or not to accept your Social Security Disability claim.