When it comes to receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, there are multiple factors that the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into consideration. The most important factor in determining whether your claim is approved is usually the severity of the disability and how it impacts your ability to work. But age is another important factor.
The SSA uses age brackets to classify different groups of people:
- 18-44 year olds are young individuals
- 45-49 year olds are younger individuals
- 50-54 year olds are close to approaching advanced age
- 55 and older are advanced age
- 60-65 are approaching retirement age
The SSA takes these classifications into account because depending upon one’s age it may limit his or her ability to be able to take certain jobs. Certain issues generally arise as one ages, such as difficulty with memory, confusion, and more. A treating physician or medical professional should always document these issues.
SSD Benefits vs. Early Retirement Benefits
Due to these issues, it typically becomes easier to win a disability claim as you age – especially for those over 60. However, since the process to receive SSD benefits can be quite long and complex, some older individuals instead take early retirement. If you take your Social Security retirement early at the age of 62 instead of applying for SSD benefits, your retirement benefits will be reduced. This reduction is based upon how far away you are from full retirement.
If you apply for and receive SSD benefits, your benefit amount will be the same as what you are entitled to once you reach the age of full retirement and then will simply convert to retirement benefits when you reach that age.
Additionally, applicants who are age 60 and older will be viewed against Social Security’s grids, which the administration uses to determine whether an individual is in fact disabled. The grids take into account the following three factors:
- Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
An RFC, which is the most physical work that an individual can do on a regular basis, can be for “sedentary”, “light”, “medium”, or “heavy” work. Those who are capable of heavy work will not be approved, whereas those over 60 without a high school education will be found automatically disabled if their RFC is sedentary or light.
The grid looks at education in groups: having no more than a 6th grade education; having between a 7th and 11th grade education; being a high school graduate; and being a high school graduate with recent training that can be leverage for skilled work. Those who fall into the last category will not be found disabled according to the grid, although there are other ways that they still could be. Those who graduated high school but have not received recent training and have an RFC of light or sedentary will automatically be considered disabled.
- Previous Work Experience/Transferrable Skills
Those who do not have a high school diploma and have an RFC of medium will be considered disabled dependent upon their previous work. Then the SSA will categorize you as having done unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled work. Under the grids, those who did unskilled work are at an advantage.
So ultimately while age does play a big role in your SSD determination, it is one of a few different factors and does not guarantee you benefits.
An Experienced Disability Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one is unable to work due to a disability, or if your application for disability benefits has been denied, the compassionate Arkansas Disability Attorneys at Caddell Reynolds can help.