Qualifying Over Age 50 With Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that decreases the density of your bone mass. In severe cases, your bones become porous and fragile, causing them to crack, fracture, or collapse. Stress fractures, as they are known, can even occur when doing normal daily activities, so if you have osteoporosis, certain types of jobs may no longer be possible.

If you are prevented from doing the work you have always done, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may use its grid rules to find you disabled and grant you benefits, especially if you are over 50.

Grid Rules and Osteoporosis

One tool used by the SSA to assess a disability claim is called the "grid rules." These rules indicate when a person is disabled based on:

  • Age
  • Education level
  • Work history
  • Ability to do (or be retrained for) sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work.

The grid criteria makes it easier for applicants over 50 to be approved for disability benefits, as older workers can experience more difficulty transitioning to a new occupation and employers are not as inclined to hire them for entry-level positions.

People who have osteoporosis are susceptible to breaking bones, you may apply for disability insurance if you have broken a bone. To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have been working to earn enough work credits.

What Type of Work Can Someone Do With This Condition?

Any job that involves manual labor and sustained physical activity, such as mail carrier, shipper and receiver, or construction worker will be beyond the ability of a person with advanced osteoporosis, due to the fact that their bones could easily break while performing routine tasks.

If you are over 50 and the majority of your work experience has been limited to these kinds of jobs, the likelihood of a disability finding increases, because your chances of be retrained for a more sedentary occupation are limited. In fact, even if your grid results do not deem you disabled, you can still be approved for benefits because of these employment obstacles.

Here's a little more information on how your ability to perform sedentary work affects your claim.

Meeting a Blue Book Listing

The SSA evaluates disability claims by determining if the applicant’s condition meets a listing in the Blue Book, which is its official catalog of disabling impairments. There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits. Osteoporosis does not have its own listing, but many of its associated disorders do.

  • Section 1.06 – Broken Bones in the Lower Body
  • Section 1.07 – Broken Bones in the Upper Body
  • Section 6.00 – Kidney Disease
  • Section 9.00 – Parathyroid Disorders
  • Section 14.00 – Autoimmune Disorders

Each one of these listings has their own diagnostic criteria, but if you meet any of them, the SSA will find you disabled. Here's what you need to prepare when applying for disability with osteoporosis.

Qualifying When You Don’t Meet the Listing

A common problem people face when applying for SSDI is that they don’t meet the strict requirements set in the Blue Book for their condition but they still can’t work because of their medical problems.

The solution for this problem is applying for a Medical Vocational Allowance exception. Under the Medical Vocational Allowance someone who doesn’t meet the criteria in the Blue Book can still be considered eligible for disability benefits.

To qualify for this exception you will need to file a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation form along with your claim for disability benefits.

The Residual Functional Capacity form is something that your doctor will need to fill out for you.

Make sure that you get your doctor this form as quickly as possible because it’s a long form and it might take your doctor some time to fill it out totally.

The Social Security Administration will look at your age, your work history, your skills, and the medical documentation that you submit as well as the RFC form that your doctor filled out to determine if there is any other kind of full-time work that you can do.

If the SSA examiners find that there isn’t any work that you can do with your symptoms and the skills and experience that you have then you will be eligible for disability benefits.

Is Osteoporosis a Disability?

Osteoporosis can become so severe that it becomes a disabling condition. In many cases, osteoporosis is also linked to other disabling medical conditions. In combination with other medical problems, or by itself, it may become impossible to continue working.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not consider osteoporosis a disability by itself, but if it can be proved that the osteoporosis has caused other medical conditions which are listed in the Blue Book then it may qualify for a disability benefit.

A typical medical problem related to osteoporosis is broken bones which are due to the bones becoming increasingly brittle. Other medical conditions which may develop as a result of osteoporosis include kidney disease, parathyroid disorders and autoimmune disorders. Each of these medical conditions is listed separately in the SSA’s Blue Book. A thorough examination of the Blue Book criteria under each listing may help to establish that osteoporosis is a disability.

An important criterion for recognizing osteoporosis and related conditions as a disability is for the applicant to prove that they are unable to continue working for at least the next 12 months because of their medical condition.

SSA examiners will look at the medical evidence presented, including how the medical conditions developed, how they were diagnosed, what treatment was given and the effects of treatment as well as evidence that the combination of symptoms had become too severe to allow the continuation of gainful employment. In some cases, it may be sensible to undergo a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment by your doctor, which establishes what tasks you are physically able to do and not do. Even if the criteria in the Blue Book cannot be matched, you may still qualify for a medical-vocational allowance.

Multiple Medical Problems

Many people who apply for disability benefits have multiple concurrent conditions that all contribute to their inability to work.

If you can’t meet the Blue Book requirements for one condition you may meet the Blue Book listing requirements for another condition and you may be able to get approved for disability benefits for that condition instead.

People who have osteoporosis may qualify for disability benefits under the Blue Book listings for broken bones in the upper body or broken bones in the lower body since broken bones are often a result of osteoporosis.

Someone with osteoporosis also may suffer from kidney or thyroid problems and can qualify for disability benefits by meeting the listings for those conditions.

Having multiple medical conditions increases your chances of approval for disability benefits because there are more ways that you can qualify.

However, you will need to have medical documentation for each condition and you will need to meet the Blue Book listing requirements for one condition in order to possibly be approved for disability benefits.

How a Lawyer Can Help You

The process of submitting a claim for Social Security disability benefits can be confusing, especially if you have multiple medical conditions. A disability lawyer that has experience in Social Security disability cases can give you guidance for filling out the claim forms.

The lawyer can also help you assemble your medical documentation, give you advice, and answer your questions about the claim forms.

Even if you are genuinely disabled, you risk being denied the first time you apply. Over half of all disability claims are denied in the beginning. To improve your chances of a successful claim, you should look into hiring a Social Security attorney or advocate. Both professionals understand SSA expectations: they can help you prepare your paperwork correctly and assemble all required documentation, so that you aren’t denied because your package was inaccurate or incomplete.

Should your first application be rejected, your attorney or advocate will help you appeal the denial and represent you in court. Statistics confirm that when you have professional representation at this hearing, you stand a greater chance of winning your appeal, so don’t hesitate to seek out support to help you get the disability benefits you need.

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