What if I Don’t Fit Exactly Into Disability’s Age Caegories? by Scott Bowers
In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must find that you are unable to do a full time job due to your medical conditions. The general rule is that they cannot consider whether someone will hire you, or whether you can find a job. However, because the SSA recognizes that older workers may have more trouble adapting to new types of employment, it will consider factors other than just your medical conditions when you reach a certain age.
The SSA groups disability claimants into 4 basic categories:
1. Younger individuals (18 through 49)
2. Closely approaching advanced age (50 to 54)
3. Advanced age (55 and over), and
4. Closely approaching retirement age (60 and over)
If you are in the first age group, the SSA will not consider you disabled if you are capable of ANY kind of work, including sedentary, unskilled work (i.e., simple jobs that do not require lifting over 10 pounds, or standing/walking for prolonged periods of time). However, if you are in the closely approaching advanced age, you could still be found disabled even if you are able to do sedentary work, depending on your education and past work experience.
However, what happens if you are about to turn 50 in a few months, but have serious medical issues that limit your ability to work? Luckily, the SSA recognizes that you do not just instantly become disabled the day you turn 50. Thus, if you are within a few days or few months of changing age categories, the SSA may deem you to be older than you are. However, there are some rules to this, and it does not happen automatically.
First, “within a few days to a few months” does not have an exact definition, but it does mean a period of less than 6 months. Thus, if you are 53, the SSA will not consider moving you to the advanced age category.
Second, there must be a “borderline age situation.” This means that in addition to being close to the next age category, using your actual age would result in a denial AND moving you to the next category would result in an approval. For example, if you are able to do light work (i.e., some standing and some sitting, and lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally), and you are 3 months from your 50th birthday, you would be denied in either age category.
Lastly, there are 4 factors that must be considered:
1. Time period
3. Past relevant work (PRW)
4. Residual functional capacity (RFC)
There are many considerations that go into arguing these factors (i.e., they cannot be double weighed – that is if education is already factored when deciding if it is a borderline age situation, it cannot again be a factor when considering an allowance). Thus, it is always recommended that you seek the help of an attorney for your disability claim.