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Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50 and 60

How old you are when you apply for Social Security disability can be a factor in determining whether your claim is approved or denied. That may come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Social Security Disability Insurance program and the process it uses to determine eligibility.

You need to have a work history of a long enough duration to be eligible for SSDI benefits and have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or a combination of impairments preventing you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. The impairment or impairments must be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

People generally may not be aware that Social Security disability rules are influenced by the age of a claimant. The following information looks at the determination process and how the rules differ for people who are age 50 and 60. When you finish reading, learn more from an SSDI lawyer or disability advocate at London Disability.

Disability Determination Process

Regardless of the age when you apply for SSDI, you must establish that you are unable to engage in a substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable impairment of a physical or mental nature that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. To determine whether your application establishes that you qualify for SSDI benefits, a sequential determination process is used to review the application.

There are five steps in the sequential process:

  • Work Activity: Substantial gainful activity is measured in terms of monthly income from employment at a job or through self-employment. Earning more than $1,350 a month in 2022 shows that you engaged in the substantial gainful activity and do not qualify for SSDI. However, if you earn less than $1,350, the review process moves on to the second step.
  • Medical condition severity: The expectation must be that the physical or mental impairment is anticipated to last for at least one year or result in death; otherwise, you are not disabled, and your application will be denied. If, however, it is severe, the review process continues to the third step.
  • Listing of impairments: Social Security maintains a listing of impairments, which is also known as the “Blue Book.” If you have a listed impairment or one that is equal to one that is on the listing, it is considered to be severe enough to meet the definition of disabled used by Social Security, and your application will be approved; otherwise, your application moves to the next step in the process.
  • Past relevant work: A determination is made whether you have the capacity given the limitations caused by your physical or mental impairment to do work equivalent to what you did in the past. If you can, your application will be denied; otherwise, the process moves to the last step of the review process.
  • Adjust to another type of work: The review process considers other types of work that your age, education, work experience and impairment would allow you to do. You will not be approved if you can make the adjustment. If you cannot, then you will be approved.

The last two steps in the sequential review process are where your age may be a factor. As a result, SSD rules that would find someone capable of doing work they had done before or adjusting to a new type of work may change for workers at age 50 or 60.

SSD Rules After Age 50

Social Security understands how the aging process affects a person’s ability to adjust to doing a new type of work. Developing the skills required to adapt to new work conditions and requirements can be difficult for an older worker, particularly when a person does not have any experience at the job.

As a 50-year-old, you also must contend with employers who are reluctant to commit the time and money to train a new worker who in a few years will be eligible for Social Security early retirement benefits. This applies not only to transitioning into a new job, but it also applies to asking a worker with an impairment to find an employer willing to hire someone who is over 50.

SSD Rules After Age 60

The advantage that SSD rules give a person at age 50 applies even more to workers at age 60. The difficulty adjusting to a new type of work can be even greater after 60 than at a younger age.

Finding an employer willing to hire an older worker becomes even more difficult after age 60. Early retirement becomes available at age 62, and full retirement for anyone born after 1959 is age 67, so employers could lose their new worker in only a couple of years.

Learn More From An SSDI Lawyer

Find out more about SSD rules and how they may affect your claim for benefits at London Disability. Call now for a free consultation and claim review.

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