The Social Security Administration has special rules for claimants age 55 and over. If you can no longer perform your past relevant work, then Social Security must take your age into account when considering whether or not you can do other work at step 5 of the sequential evaluation. This principle is embodied in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, which are used by the SSA to determine disability at step 5.
I think it is very helpful for claimants age 55 or older to have a disability lawyer's help with their initial disability application, because there are some common mistakes to avoid. I have worked with many clients in this age group, and often a claim can be granted without the necessity of a hearing if the initial application is completed properly.
I ensure that I have a winning theory of the case before filing. Then, I help the client thoroughly complete the work history report, being sure to fully describe the requirements of past work. I analyze the past work for transferable skills, which can sink a disability claim. Then, I describe the claimant's functional limitations, and ensure that all sources of medical treatment are listed, so that Social Security gets a complete medical record. Lastly, I ask the client which of his or her doctors are most supportive, so that I can get a doctor's opinion.
For the lawyer, this process means front-loading the time spent on a disability claim. The hours of getting to know a client, the medical history and work history, are all spent before even applying for benefits. For the client, getting help with the disability application means that common mistakes are avoided, all the necessary details are included, and the application is supported by a winning theory of the case.
If you are age 55 or older and can no longer do the kind of work you've done in the past, consider getting a Social Security disability lawyer involved as early as possible. There is no up front cost, and no fee at all unless your claim is successful.