Do I Need To Be 50 Or Older To Receive SSD Benefits?

Picture of a birthday cake with blue "50" candles

You may have heard the myth that you must be 50 years or older in order to apply for SSD benefits. However, you do not need to wait to be 50 to apply for benefits. Potentially this myth became popular as in general, those who are 50-62 years old will likely have a higher chance of receiving benefits. This is not to discourage younger applicants. There are several strategies you can use to improve your odds of approval, which we detail below.

Does Your Condition Meet a Medical Listing of Impairments?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first determine if your disability fits the criteria for one of the medical disorders included in its Blue Book of Impairments. The lists are a category of conditions for which the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider awarding disability benefits if the listing criteria are satisfied.

However, having a condition in the Blue Book does not automatically lead to SSD benefits. You must also prove that your condition is expected to last for at least a year, or is terminal. In addition, you must also have enough work credits and prove that you cannot perform any other types of work.

However, one way to help facilitate the process is compassionate allowances. If you have a medical condition that is under the compassionate allowances, such as certain cancers, the process can be expedited.

What Are “The Grids” And How Do They Affect the SSA’s Decision?

If your medical condition does not meet a listing of impairments and you cannot perform past relevant work, The SSA turns to a grid of guidelines to help make a decision. Referred to as “the grids” these guidelines consider factors other than medical information when making a disability decision, including:

  • Age
  • Skills
  • Education
  • Past Work
  • Residual Functional Capacity

It can be more challenging to use the grids to help win disability benefits for those younger than 50. However, below are potential situations that can help you be approved.

You Cannot Perform Sedentary Work

If you can’t do a job that requires sitting down most of the day, eight hours a day, five days a week, the SSA is likely to consider you disabled regardless of your age. However, you must show that your disabilities prohibit you from doing your previous job or other less demanding work to win your Social Security disability claim. This can be problematic for younger claimants since the SSA believes that, even with a disability, most younger people can transition to sit-down jobs.

You Have Multiple Medical Conditions

If you have more than one medical condition, the SSA must consider the combined effect when preparing your Residual Functional Capacity. If you have at least one severe impairment, the SSA must consider how any non-severe impairments you have further limit your ability to work. The combined impact of severe and non-severe impairments can push your RFC down a level or at least prevent you from doing a full range of work in your RFC. For more information, see our articles on using a combination of impairments and combining severe and non-severe impairments to win your disability claim.

You Cannot Perform Your Previous Jobs

It’s possible that having transferable job skills can prevent you from getting approved for Social Security Disability. At most jobs, people learn specific skills needed to do their work. Sometimes these skills are specialized and can only be used at that particular job. If you cannot perform your previous job, but possess abilities that may be transferred to a less challenging position, Social Security is unlikely to find you disabled.

You Have Worked in Unskilled Physical Labor for Years

The “worn-out worker” rule is a provision of Social Security legislation that applies to certain disability applicants who have worked in unskilled physical labor for years. The worn-out worker rule allows for eligible disability claimants who would otherwise have their disability claim denied Social Security benefits.

You Are Almost 50-Years-Old

If you are a few months away from turning 50 and would be approved for benefits based on using the age category of 50-54, you can request that the SSA use the older age grid. The SSA will decide whether to do this on a case-by-case basis.

What Happens if The SSA Does Not State You Are Disabled?

Even if through using the grids you are found not be be disabled, you can partner with an experienced SSD lawyer and appeal the decision.

The Disability Attorneys of Michigan Can Help You Get the Benefits You Need

If you are in your twenties, thirties, or forties, you will likely have an uphill battle getting SSD benefits, even if you are genuinely disabled and unable to work. Since younger applicants have a more challenging time getting approved for benefits, it’s important to consult with an experienced Social Security Disability Attorney.

At DAM, our team of professional disability lawyers has been committed to helping people in Michigan obtain the benefits they are entitled to for more than 20 years. Let us help you with filing or appealing your claim for benefits today, contact us today for a free case consultation at 800-949-2900 or fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

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I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.