Applying For Disability After 50: Frequently Asked Questions

Workers of any age who become too injured or ill to continue working often have many questions if they plan to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. However, those who are over age 50 may wonder how their cases will be viewed, in light of the investments they may have made in their education and profession.

Maggie Schott, lead attorney at the Law Office of Maggie R. Schott, PLLC, has compiled answers to commonly asked questions on this topic.

FAQs On Social Security Disability After Age 50

Am I more likely to qualify for Social Security benefits after the age of 50?

Possibly. Age alone does not qualify a person for SSDI benefits. However, if your disability prevents you from doing the physical and mental functions of most jobs and you are age 50 or older, there is an increased likelihood you may receive the benefits. Each person's application is evaluated on many different factors and it can be hard to generalize from case to case.

How does the Social Security Administration factor age into its disability determination process?

Older workers seeking disability benefits are placed into three different age categories: workers aged 50-54 are considered approaching advanced age, those aged 55 and older are determined to be of advanced age, and workers' aged 60-65 are labeled approaching retirement age.

The older a worker applying for SSDI is at the time of application, the SSA is more likely to judge that the applicant's ability to adjust to another line of work (that does not aggravate their disabling condition) has diminished. For that reason, a worker very close to retirement age may be more likely to receive disability benefits than a worker close to or under age 50.

How does the potential for vocational retraining fit into SSA's disability determination equation for older workers?

For applicants of all ages, the SSA has a complex grid it uses to review an applicant's skill level in their profession and their age group, and if they have potential to use transferrable skills in a completely sedentary job. For older workers, as noted previously, this grid makes assumptions that the older a person is, the less likely it is they will be able to upgrade skills or change professions. Thus, older workers have a lower expectation of completing vocational retraining and may (if other circumstances are present) be more likely to be determined to be disabled.

Does my education level impact a disability evaluation if I am over 50?

Yes. The evaluation grid tool mentioned above takes into account the level of education an applicant has, as well as their ability to communicate in English fluently. A post-high school level of educational attainment does not mean you will not be rated disabled, but the reviewer will be examining the possibility that you have transferrable skills from your work that could be used in a job you are still capable of performing.

How can an SSI/SSDI benefits attorney help me get disability benefits if I am of age 50 or older?

Many factors beyond age influence a disability examiner's determination: the severity of your medical/psychological condition, the amount of functional capacity you still have to do a regular full-time job, what other income or support is available to you, and if you meet other technical requirements of the program. A lawyer who focuses their practice on Social Security Disability benefits will understand the nuances of SSA regulations and be able to help you prepare an applications that clearly addresses the agency's main criteria for disability. They can also help you prepare a strong appeal if your initial claim is denied.

Uncertain About Your SSDI Application? Call 509-209-9668 For A Free Confidential Assessment.

Our firm serves clients in Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle from our offices in Spokane. Get your questions about disability answered without judgment by calling to schedule a free initial appointment at 509-209-9668 or emailing us.