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.
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.
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.
Once you're over 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. Once you're over age 50, it'll be much easier to be approved via the grid rules. 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 disability benefits 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 Rules After Age 50
In some cases, there may special rules for workers over the age of 50 who are applying for disability benefits.
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.
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.
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. Here's a little more information on how the grid rules and medical criteria will affect your Social Security claim depending on your diagnosis:
- Applying for Social Security Benefits After Age 50?
- Aortic Aneurysm
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Breast Cancer
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Heart Failure
- Herniated Disc
- Lumbar Stenosis
- Kidney Failure
- Knee Replacement
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
- Parkinson's Disease
- Polycythemia Vera
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjögren's Syndrome
- Liver Cancer
- Meniere's Disease