If you are over the age of 50 and suffer from a health condition, it can be difficult to perform the type of work you’ve done all your life. At this stage of life, switching career paths may not be an option for you. Recognizing it may be difficult for older workers to change jobs, the Social Security Administration’s rules are more lenient toward disability applicants over the age of 50.
If you are over the age of 50 and believe you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits or were recently denied benefits, Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law can assist you in applying for benefits or in appealing a denial of benefits. Jon Sipes has helped countless El Paso area residents receive disability benefits and understands how social security payments can ease the financial burdens of older workers.
Do you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if I’m over the age of 50?
If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Social Security Disability benefits can be broken down into two categories, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years. If you have not worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years, you are not eligible for SSDI but may still qualify for need-based SSI.
How does the Social Security Administration evaluate my disability claim?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your skills and assess whether you can perform any level of work. The evaluation is a complicated, multi-step process. In the first step, the SSA considers whether you are currently working. Step two involves a review of your physical or mental condition and whether it impacts your ability to work. Step three compares your condition to a list of recognized disabling conditions to determine disability. If your condition is not a recognized condition, the SSA moves to step four, where it considers whether your condition prevents you from performing any of your past work. If you are unable to perform past work, the SSA then considers whether you can perform any other type of work in step five.
What is a disability?
Eligibility for Social Security Disability requires showing you suffer from a disability, or a long-term medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or result in death. The SSA keeps a list of medical conditions that generally recognized as a disability on its website. You must show that the disability prevents you from performing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), meaning you don’t perform any work that produces income over a set threshold each month.
What if I don’t have a recognized disability but I still can’t work?
If you do not have a recognized disability, the SSA will consider whether your condition prevents you from working. The SSA considers whether you can perform work you’ve done in the past. If you are unable to perform the type of work you’ve done in the past, the SSA will consider whether you can perform any other type of work. In this step, the SSA considers your education, past work experience, transferable skills, and age to determine whether you can work.
This assessment is used to determine your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) for work. The RFC measures the most you can do despite physical or mental impairments. To assess RFC, the SSA considers evidence including medical records, a medical exam, and your statements regarding your pain or condition.
How is my RFC determined?
The SSA considers the physical requirements and exertion levels of work compared with your condition. The SSA classifies work as sedentary work, light work, medium work, heavy work, and very heavy work. Sedentary work involves sitting for at least six hours and lifting up to 10 pounds. Light work means standing and walking for up to six hours and lifting up to 20 pounds. Medium work requires lifting up to 50 pounds; heavy work requires lifting up to 100 pounds; very heavy work requires lifting over 100 pounds.
Your RFC is essential in determining whether you are disabled. If you have an RFC for medium work, you are considered able to perform medium, light, and sedentary work, opening up more possibilities for employment. However, if you have an RFC for only sedentary work, your options are limited to jobs that do not require standing or lifting heavy objects.
How does age factor into disability assessment?
If you are between the ages of 50 and 54, the SSA takes age into consideration when determining your ability to adapt or adjust to other types of work. Advancing age is an increasingly limiting factor in your ability to adjust to other types of work. The SSA groups applicants by age and applies different levels of skill transferability based on age.
As part of this assessment, the SSA considers whether you are capable of performing skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled work. Skilled work requires education or training above a high school diploma. Semi-skilled work usually does not require advanced education but does require some on the job training. Unskilled work involves jobs that require no advanced education and minimal training.
The SSA inputs your education level, skill level, and RFC into a table or grid based on your age-group. The SSA uses the table or grid to reach a decision of whether you are disabled or not based on your education, skill level, and type of work.
Consult with a Social Security Disability Attorney If You Are Over the Age of 50
If you do not have a recognized disability, it can be quite complex to determine whether the SSA considers you disabled. There are a number of factors involved and you must show evidence to support your condition. If you are over the age of 50 and suffer from a condition that limits your ability to work, contact attorney Jon Sipes for a case review. Whether you have not yet applied for disability or need to appeal a prior denial of benefits, Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law can walk you through the process and help you present a compelling case.