Social Security considers the age of the claimant at step 5 of the sequential evaluation. Age plays no role in steps 1 through 4.
Age is a vocational factor which dictates where you fall in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, which are used to determine disability at step 5 for claimant’s who have physical impairments. The Guidelines may achieve different results depending on whether the claimant is under 50, age 50 to 54, or age 55 or older.
So what does one do when the claimant is on the cusp of a higher age category at the hearing? Or what does one do when the claimant crosses to the higher age category while the claim is pending?
These are call borderline age situations, and the SSA has a regulation on point. 20 CFR 404.1563(b) states:
We will not apply the age categories mechanically in a borderline situation. If you are within a few days to a few months of reaching an older age category, and using the older age category would result in a determination or decision that you are disabled, we will consider whether to use the older age category after evaluating the overall impact of all the factors of your case.
POMS section DI 25015.006 describes factors to consider in borderline age situations.