Qualifying After Age 50

Are you over age 50? If so, you might have an easier time qualifying for Social Security disability benefits than a younger applicant.

Is it Easier to Get Disability Benefits After Age 50?

It may be easier to get disability after age 50. One of the biggest reasons being is that the older you are, the longer you’ll have worked.

One of the ways you can get denied disability benefits is that you do not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI benefits are for those who at one point could work full time, but now cannot because of a disability or a serious ailment.

You must earn at least 40 Social Security in order to meet the work requirements for Social Security benefits. You earn Social Security credits when you work and pay Social Security taxes.

Work credits are calculated by how your age and how long you work. You can earn up to 4 work credits for each year you worked.

For example, if you are age 54 when you became disabled, in order to meet the work requirements for disability benefits, you’ll need to have worked at least 8 years prior and need 32 work credits.

 If you are over aged 50. It may be easier to qualify for Disability

In order to qualify for disability over the age of 50, the longer you have worked and paid Social Security taxes, the easier it will be for your to earn work credits in order to meet the work requirements to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

It may also be easier to get disability after the age of 50 depending on what disability or ailment you have.

For example, disabilities that affects older people such as degenerative disc disease and a herniated disc are much easier to prove with medical documents such as X-rays and MRIs to the SSA because they are musculoskeletal compared to mental health conditions, which are more difficult to prove with medical evidence.

Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50

Applicants who are 50 and over may find they are more likely to get approved for disability benefits due to their age. This is because in some cases, there may be special rules for workers after age 50 who apply for SSDI.

If you are over the age of 50 and applying for disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is aware that it can be difficult for older workers to adjust to new types of work.

Workers over the age of 50 may be treated more favorable than younger workers when the SSA looks at eligibility for disability benefits after finding that you cannot perform the normal job duties you had before they are deemed disabled by the SSA.

 If you are over aged 50. It may be easier to qualify for Disability

Again, this is due to the fact the SSA at times may be more favorable to older workers because it can be a lot more difficult for older workers to get adjusted to new work accommodations than younger workers.

If you have a disability that prevents you from earning a living, or at least one that stops you from continuing to work for at least the next 12 months, you may be eligible for a disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Benefits may be obtained if you have worked for long enough through the social security disability insurance (SSDI) scheme and paid the required taxes or if you don’t have enough work history, income or assets through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) scheme.

Further Reading: What Is SSI?

If you are aged over 50, it may be easier to obtain a benefit as the rules may be relaxed a little. For a start, you probably have already acquired enough work credits to be eligible for SSDI as you will have worked for longer. Also, the SSA assumes that you may not be able to be retrained as easily as a younger person and may not be able to obtain another job if you cannot continue the sort of work you have been doing up to now.

If your disability does not match the criteria listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, you may still be able to obtain a Medical Vocational Allowance.

The SSA uses something called "grid rules" as a way of assessing your ability to work. These are pretty much rules are more lenient if you are aged over 50. Grid rules assess your ability to work based on evaluating your previous educational qualifications, previous work experience and ability to do any other kind of work other than what you have been doing up to now.

Grid Rules and Social Security

There are two forms of qualification for disability benefits: approval based on the Blue Book, or approval based on a Medical Vocational Allowance. The Blue Book is a medical resource outlining exactly what test results or symptoms you'll need to qualify, while a Medical Vocational Allowance approval determines how much work you're able to perform with an illness, and what forms of work you're qualified for.

 If you are over aged 50. It may be easier to qualify for Disability

After age 50, Medical Vocational Allowances rely heavily on "grid rules," which are a series of yes or no questions that help determine if you'll qualify for disability benefits. And it'll be much easier to be approved via the grid rules after age 50. The SSA is more lenient with how much work you're able to do while still qualifying for benefits.

Older Workers May Not Be Required to Adjust to a Different Kind of Work

Even if older workers are physically capable to do so, older workers may not be required to adjust to a different kind of work. Your ability to do the same kind of work you have done before adjusting to doing some other kind of work is one of the top considerations that the SSA looks at when determining if someone qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Workers over the age of 50 are treated more favorably in the “grid” the SSA’s looks at when determining if you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits after finding that you can’t do the same kind of work you had been doing before you became disabled.

For example, someone over the age of 50 applying for SSDI could be able to receive disability benefits if they are between 50-54 if they can perform sedentary work.

Workers between 55-59 could qualify for disability even if able to perform light work. This is because even if older workers are still physically able to do some work because of their age, older workers are less likely to compete in the job market compared to younger workers.

Social Security Disability Review After Age 50

The SSA will carry out a continuing disability review every few years once you start receiving a disability benefit. Up to the age of 50, a review is scheduled every three years, but after the age of 50 this is relaxed to every seven years. The continuing disability review is designed to assess your disability to determine whether it still meets the criteria for receiving a disability benefit.

This all depends on the disability that you had when you first applied for a benefit and any ongoing treatment or surgery you have had which has meant an improvement. In many cases, disabilities don’t go away or improve, meaning that once the SSA’s appointed Disability Determination Services examiner assesses the current status of your disability that there will be no change in the benefit you receive.

Apart from your medical condition, the review may also look into any income you are receiving. If you are able to do some work or at least obtain an income in excess of $1,260 a month, then this meets the threshold for substantial gainful activity and your benefit would then automatically be stopped.

Other reasons for canceling your disability benefit after a review may include a conviction for a criminal offense. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, then this may be considered serious enough for cancellation of your disability benefit.

When Can You File for Social Security Disability Benefits?

You can file as soon as you are experiencing a disability that will prevent you from working for at least 12 months. Approving an application is a long process so it is better to file earlier than waiting too long.

You shouldn’t delay submitting your application because Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have a waiting period of five months which means that your benefit payments will not start before the sixth full month from when your disability began.

This waiting period starts the first full month following the date the SSA has decided that your disability began.

If you have become disabled and you are more than 50 years old the Social Security Administration (SSA) knows how hard it is for older workers to adapt to new types of work so you are more likely to get your claim approved.

The SSA is still likely to ask you to take part in a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment conducted by your doctor as this helps to confirm both your physical and mental ability if you were put in a work situation.

The SSA will also match your disability with its listings in their Blue Book. If it is easy to match your disability with a listing then you are more likely to be approved for disability benefits.

Qualified Work Over 50

Once you're 50, the SSA believes it's much more challenging to be retrained for another job. This means that if you have a limited work history and a physically disabling condition, you might qualify for benefits when a 25-year-old applicant wouldn't.

Applying for disability benefits over age 50 makes it easier to qualify. There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Here's a little more information on how the grid rules and medical criteria will affect your Social Security claim depending on your diagnosis:

Additional Resources