Qualifying for Disability After 50 with Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that makes it difficult to stand, walk, and even speak clearly. When the disease is in its advanced stages, it can be difficult or impossible for you to work, which may lead to a disability finding by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

When you are over 50, applying the SSA grid rules to your condition can increase your chance of getting the benefits you need.

Grid Rules and Parkinson's Disease

The grid rules are based on the realization that the older you are, the more difficult it is for you to transition from one type of work to another. This is partly due to a longer work history in one area and partly due to employer reluctance to hire people over 50 for an entry-level position.

As a result, the grid may find you disabled even if you are technically able to do a different job. The SSA grid uses factors like the following to arrive at a disability finding:

  • The amount of education you have received
  • The skill level required at your previous job
  • Whether you have transferable skills
  • How much physical work you are able to do

Qualifying for Disability After 50 with Parkinson's Disease

What Type of Work Can Someone Do With This Condition?

The physical tremors, weakness, and communication challenges common with advanced Parkinson’s can make it difficult (if not impossible) to do jobs that involve manual labor.

If you are over 50, a high school graduate, and spent your entire life doing factory assembly work, your chances of being approved for benefits are higher than someone who graduated from college and worked mostly at sedentary occupations.

Even if the grid does not find that you qualify for benefits, your chances of a successful claim are much higher if you are over 50. The expectation is that older workers will find it more difficult to be retrained for a different occupation, so non-physical factors that might not ordinarily have been considered, such as mental illness, can carry more weight and tip the scales in your favor.

Meeting a Blue Book Listing

Many Social Security disability benefit applicants receive benefits by meeting a listing in the Blue Book, which is the official SSA guidebook of known disabilities. Parkinson's is specifically referenced in Listing 11.06- Parkinsonism. To qualify, you must meet one of the following medical criteria:

  • Inability to control the movement of at least two extremities, even after three months of treatment, causing serious difficulty with standing, walking, or using your arms OR
  • Marked physical problems along with a confirmed limitation in thinking, interacting with others, or finishing tasks that require speed, persistence, and concentration

If you have an advanced stage of Parkinson’s that makes it difficult to work and are planning to apply for SSA disability benefits, contact a Social Security attorney or advocate.

They will improve your chances of a successful claim by ensuring that your application is both accurate and complete and provide skilled and qualified representation in the event that you are initially denied, increasing the likelihood of the approval- and the benefits- you need.

Qualifying When You Don’t Meet the Listing

It’s very common for someone with Parkinson’s to be unable to work but at the same time not meet the rigid criteria that are listed in the Blue Book that are required in order to be eligible for disability benefits.

If this happens to you there is still a way that you can be eligible for disability benefits. You can ask for a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation.

A Residual Functional Capacity exam is something that the Social Security Administration does to determine whether or not there’s any work that you can do.

If the RFC finds that you can’t do the kinds of things needed for a job like sit for eight hours or stand for hours then you will probably be approved for disability benefits.

The first step is download and have your doctor complete the Residual Functional Capacity evaluation form. The RFC form is available online.

You can download a copy and give it to your doctor, who will need to fill it out for you. The form is quite detailed and designed to help the SSA figure out what, if any, work you can still do.

The SSA will look at your age, your past jobs, and your education as well as your current medical status to determine if there’s any type of work that you can do.

If you are over 50 and have a progressive condition like Parkinson’s it shouldn’t be difficult for you to quality for disability benefits after having an RFC done.

Multiple Medical Problems

People who have Parkinson’s usually have other conditions that are related to the Parkinson’s. Having multiple conditions can sometimes help you qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Those conditions can help you get approved for disability benefits.

If you don’t meet the Blue Book listing requirements for Parkinson’s you may be eligible for disability benefits based on one of the other conditions, as long as you are able to meet the blue book listing requirements for that condition.

A few of the other conditions that commonly occur with Parkinson’s are depression, anxiety, and dementia.

If you have any of those conditions and you have Parkinson’s you should talk to your doctor or an attorney about qualifying for disability benefits due to one of those accompanying conditions.

How a Lawyer Can Help You

If you need help navigating the process of filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits you’re not alone.

An experienced attorney who specializes in Social Security disability cases can answer your questions, give you advice, and help you through the claims process.

A good attorney can also help you figure out what medical evidence you should be submitting with your claim. You’re not supposed to be great at filing for disability benefits.

But an attorney who has worked on disability cases can help you through the process of filing a claim for disability benefits and give you the best chance at getting your claim for benefits approved the first time.

Additional Resources