There are many different factors that the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into consideration when deciding whether or not an individual qualifies to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. We are aware of the fact that the severity of the disability and the manner in which it impacts the individual’s ability to work are highly examined, but so too is age.
In fact, the SSA utilizes various age brackets in order to classify various applicants:
- 18 to44-year-olds are “young individuals”
- 45 to 49-year-olds are “younger individuals”
- 50 to 54-year-olds are “close to approaching advanced age”
- 55 and older are “advanced age”
- 60 to 65-year-olds are “approaching retirement age”
Although the age of the applicant may seem somewhat irrelevant if they are affected by a disability, but the SSA considers the above brackets because different age groups may have limited opportunities to take on certain jobs. This is because with age generally comes specifically-related natural issues such as difficulty with memory.
SSD Benefits or Early Retirement Benefits?
Since age-related issues sometimes impact an individual’s ability to work, it becomes easier to win a claim for SSD benefits as you age. This is especially true for individuals over the age of 60. However, since SSD benefits can often take a while to receive, many older individuals choose to take early retirement instead. It’s important to note though that if an individual takes his or her SS retirement early rather than applying for SSD benefits, his or her benefits will be reduced depending upon how early you take them.
Those who receive SSD benefits will receive the same amount as they would once they reach the full retirement age. Once they reach the age of retirement the SSD benefits will change to retirement benefits.
The SSA will also turn to Social Security grids when viewing whether applicants age 60 and older are disabled. The grid considers three factors:
1. Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
RFC is the amount of physical work someone is capable of on a regular basis. The level of work will be classified as “sedentary,” “light,” “medium,” or “heavy.” Individuals who are able to perform heavy work generally aren’t approved. Those who are over the age of 60 and don’t have a GED are automatically found disabled if their RFC is found to be sedentary or light.
2. Level of Education
Another factor the SSA looks at is the individual’s level of education. These groups include those who have:
- No more than a 6th grade education
- Between a 7th and 11th grade education
- Graduated high school
- Graduated high school and have had recent training for skilled work
Per the grid, the last group will not be found disabled. However, there are other ways that they still could be. If an individual graduated high school but has not had recent training and has an RFC of only light or sedentary, he or she will automatically be found disabled.
3. Previous Work/Skills
If an individual does not have a high school diploma but has an RFC of “medium,” whether the individual is considered disabled hinges upon his or her previous work experience. The SSA will decide if the work you have done is “unskilled,” “semi-skilled,” or “skilled.” An individual who has done unskilled work is more likely to be considered disabled.
The Pennsylvania SSD Attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP Can Help
When you are struggling with a disability that prevents you from working, you may not know what to do. Luckily, the attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP can help. We understand the impact that a disability can have on your ability to make ends meet. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!