The Social Security Administration has different rules for determining disability for people who are 50 years old and older. These rules are designed to take into account the fact that older workers are more likely to have difficulty finding new jobs due to their age and health.

To qualify for disability benefits after age 50, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents you from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA).
  • Your impairment must be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in your death.

The SSA has a list of medical impairments that are considered severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. These impairments are called “listings.” If you have a listing, you will automatically be considered disabled if your impairment meets all of the requirements in the listing.

If you do not have a listing, the SSA will still consider your claim if your impairment prevents you from doing any substantial gainful activity. To determine whether your impairment meets this requirement, the SSA will look at your age, education, and work experience.

Additional Requirements To Qualify For Disability Benefits Over 50

Here are some additional things to keep in mind if you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits after age 50:

  • You should gather as much medical evidence as possible to support your claim. This evidence can include medical records, doctor’s letters, and test results.
  • You should be prepared to answer questions about your age, education, and work experience.
  • You should be patient. The process of applying for disability benefits can take several months or even years.

The SSA considers older workers to be less likely to be able to find new jobs due to their age and health. As a result, older workers are more likely to be approved for disability benefits even if their impairments are not as severe as those of younger workers.

If you are 50 years old or older and you believe that you are disabled, you should contact the SSA to file a claim for benefits. You can file a claim online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office.

Social Security Disability Review After Age 50

The Social Security Administration reviews cases periodically to ensure that individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income are still eligible for benefits. This is known as a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

The frequency of these reviews depends on the severity of a person’s condition and the likelihood it will improve. Generally, the SSA may review your case:

  • Approximately every six months to two years when medical improvement is expected. 
  • About every three years when medical improvement is possible.
  • Approximately every five to seven years when medical improvement is not expected.
  • After you reach the age of 50, some specific rules start to apply that may make it easier to qualify for disability or to continue receiving benefits during a review.

How The Grid Rules Apply To Different Age Brackets

The “grid rules” is a term that refers to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines used by the Social Security Administration in the United States to determine eligibility for disability benefits. 

The grid rules take into account a person’s age, education level, skill level of past work, and physical residual functional capacity (RFC) to decide whether they should be granted disability benefits.

  • Younger Person: Under age 50. SSA assumes that younger individuals can adapt to new types of work, even if they’re severely impaired. It is typically harder to get approved for disability under age 50.
  • Closely Approaching Advanced Age: Age 50-54. SSA starts to recognize that a person’s age may seriously affect his or her ability to adapt to new types of work.
  • Advanced Age: Age 55 or older. Age significantly affects a person’s ability to adjust to new work. If a person cannot do any job they did in the past 15 years, SSA looks at whether there are any jobs within the person’s RFC (residual functional capacity) they could adjust to.
  • Approaching Retirement Age: Age 60 and older. It becomes easier to get disability benefits because SSA assumes that these individuals cannot adjust to new types of work.

Special Rules for Workers Over age 50

Education: The SSA considers how much education the claimant has received. Those with less education may have fewer job opportunities available to them, making it more likely they’ll be granted disability benefits. The categories include:

  • Limited or less (11th grade education or less)
  • High school graduate or more (does not provide for direct entry into skilled work)
  • High school graduate or more (provides for direct entry into skilled work)

Previous Work Experience: The SSA looks at the skill level of the work the claimant has done in the past 15 years. The more skilled the work, the more likely it is that the claimant can do other jobs, which could make them ineligible for benefits. The categories include:

  • Unskilled work
  • Semi-skilled work
  • Skilled work

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): This is an assessment of the claimant’s remaining capacity for work despite their disability. The categories include:

  • Sedentary work
  • Light work
  • Medium work
  • Heavy work
  • Very heavy work

Is It Easier To Get Disability After 50?

Yes, it is generally easier to get disability after 50. The Social Security Administration considers older workers to be less able to adapt to new jobs and to be more likely to have health problems that prevent them from working. As a result, the SSA has a more lenient standard for disability claims for people over 50.

If you are over 50, the SSA will also consider your ability to adapt to new jobs and your ability to perform the essential functions of a job.

Here are some tips for applying for disability benefits after 50:

  • Gather medical documentation of your condition.
  • Get a letter from your doctor stating that you are disabled and unable to work.
  • List your education and work experience.
  • Explain how your condition prevents you from working.
  • Get help from an experienced attorney.

Applying for disability benefits can be a long and difficult process, but it is possible to get approved if you have a strong case. 

Need Legal Help? Contact Disability Law Firm

If you are considering applying for disability benefits, it is important to speak with an experienced social security disability attorney. They can help you understand the disability benefits process and can represent you at an appeals hearing if your application is denied.