Does Age Make a Difference in Terms of Eligibility for SSDI?
Age is one of the most important factors that can affect your eligibility for disability benefits and approval of a disability application through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.
Unfortunately, using just age to evaluate the SSDI approval rate is not very consistent as this statistic depends on not only the severity of your symptoms as well as whether your disability is recognized as such by the SSA, but it also depends on your work history. Generally, the older you are, the more likely you will be to have accumulated sufficient work credits to qualify for a SSDI benefit.
The SSDI Age Grid
The top most approved age groups for SSDI benefit approval are listed below in descending order of approval rating. These data and statistics referenced below are from a recent study conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.*
50 to 59 Year Olds
People who are in the 50 to 59 year-old age group are the most numerous beneficiaries of SSDI disability benefits.
In June 2020, statistics show that 18.3% of all SSDI beneficiaries were in this age group. It would not be surprising if this percentage had some relation to the fact that this age group has probably accumulated sufficient work credits through their social security insurance contributions over the course of their employment, to qualify for SSDI. That being said, in order to be approved for SSDI, applicants still have to show that they have a disability that is serious enough to be recognized by the SSA as meriting disability benefits. Additionally, given the fairly concrete criteria for disability benefits approval, these applicants also likely highlighted that they could not work for at least 12 months at the time of their application.
The 50- to 54-year-old age group is classified as “Approaching Advanced Age,” while the 55- to 59-year-old age group is classified as “Individuals of Advanced Age.”
However, because the collective 50- to 59-year-old age group is too young to receive their retirement benefits from the SSA, the SSA may still require some disability benefit applicants—such as those who already are, or have, been receiving benefits—to retrain, if possible, to try to enable them to go back into the workforce.
60 to 66 Year Olds
These June 2020 data also revealed that people who are in the 60- to 66-year-old age group represented 17.1% of all SSDI beneficiaries, placing this demographic of individuals as the second most common age group approved for SSDI benefits.
In the eyes of the SSA, 60- to 66-year-olds are all considered “Individuals of Advanced Age.” Given this classification, it is unlikely that the SSA would expect individuals in this age group to retrain in order to partake in a new job or field of work. That being said, this all depends on both the status and severity of the applicant’s disability.
Ultimately, this data and reasoning helps make clear that being granted a disability benefit(s) becomes easier with age. More specifically, this information highlights a trend that it is likely easier to be approved for—and subsequently receive—disability benefits if you are older and near the age of retirement.
40 to 49 Year Olds
These statistics show that 40- to 49-year-olds represented 7.6% of the total SSDI beneficiaries in June 2020, making this demographic of individuals the third largest age group receiving SSDI benefits. The drop in the percentage of the number of SSDI benefits recipients in this age group can likely be attributed to the fact that 40- to 49-year-olds have less work history compared to older SSDI benefit applicants. Thus, keeping this information in mind, the collective 40- to 49-year-old age group age group would have fewer work credits to be eligible for a SSDI benefit(s).
30 Years Old and Below
Successful SSDI beneficiaries in this 30-years-old and younger age group represented only 3.8% of the total number of SSDI beneficiaries in June 2020. This is probably due, in part, to the fact that individuals in this age group have been employed for less time in comparison to older age groups, and, thereby, may not have accumulated the sufficient work credits to receive SSDI benefits.
Additionally, because individuals who are 30 years old and younger are, in theory, expected to have many more years of their working career left in front of them, and they are seen as being young enough to learn new skills (i.e., retrain), they may be expected to do so that they can take up a job they are able to do with the disability symptoms they experience.
Does Age Make a Difference in SSDI?
As can be seen from the statistics described above, age can certainly make a difference in one’s eligibility for a SSDI benefit(s). As this data suggested, the older an applicant is, the more likely they will be eligible to be offered a benefit through the SSDI program possibly as a result of having more work credits.
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