Many people applying for Social Security disability are over the age of 50, and have worked hard for their entire adult life. But now, due to a medical condition, they can’t do their job any longer, and have been unable to find other work. Many of these workers are denied benefits when they apply for disability, despite a lifetime of paying into the Social Security system.
The Social Security Administration has special rules for claimants over 50. If you are over 50 and can no longer do the sort of work you have done in the past, then Social Security must take your age into account when considering whether or not you can do other work. These rules are embodied in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, which are used by the SSA to determine disability at at step 5 of the sequential evaluation process.
If you are over 50 years old and are limited to unskilled sedentary work, Social Security will presume that you are unable to transition to other work due to your age. This can make a huge difference in a claim. A person limited to unskilled sedentary work may lose his disability case at age 48, but will win it at age 50.
At age 55, it gets even better. A claimant limited to unskilled light exertional work is presumed to be unable to transition to other work.
An experienced attorney can use these presumptions to help win your disability case.
It is very important to remember that you do not get the benefit of these rules until step 5 of the disability evaluation process. So it is critical to rule out your past relevant work at step 4.
Your past relevant work comprises all of the jobs that you have had during the past 15 years. If you still retain the residual functional capacity to perform any of these jobs, your disability claim will be denied at step 4. If Social Security determines that you can perform your past relevant work, your claim will never get to step 5, where you would have benefitted from the favorable presumptions due to your age. For this reason, it is particularly important for disability claimants over 50 to have the assistance of a capable Social Security attorney.
If you are wondering if your medical condition is severe enough to receive disability benefits, and you live in Maine or New Hampshire, please ask for a free case evaluation.