One of the most common questions we get from clients who are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability is: does my age affect my Disability benefits? The short answer is yes. In fact, very much so in some cases. To be clear, this is not to dissuade a younger disabled individual from applying for benefits, but simply to illustrate the effect that one’s age can have on his or her application for Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses many factors to determine whether an applicant is disabled, but one of the initial factors the SSA takes into account is the applicant's age. If an applicant does not meet a “listing,” which is a per se disabling medical condition (such as an advanced cancer) regardless of age, the applicant's age then determines the level of analysis used by the SSA to decide if the applicant is disabled.
Those levels are as follows:
Ages: Classifications: 18-44 Young individual 45-49 Younger individual 50-54 Closely approaching advanced age 55-59 Advanced age 60-65 Closely approaching retirement age 66+ Retirement age Stated simply, the older the individual, the easier it is to qualify for Disability benefits. The SSA believes that “young” and “younger” individuals can more easily train for another job, perhaps one that is less physically demanding than a prior one he or she can no longer perform due to certain conditions. If he or she can train for and perform the less-demanding or different type job, the SSA is not likely to find that person disabled under the law. Likewise, the SSA recognizes that it could be very difficult for an older individual to train for a new job in which their past work skills may not easily transfer. Therefore, if someone of age 60-65 is unable physically to perform prior work, the SSA will likely find that person disabled even if he or she might could physically do a different, less demanding job. If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it is important to first discuss this with an attorney experienced in this field. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation.
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