Many things in life become more difficult as we age. One thing that gets easier as you get older is getting Social Security disability benefits from the United States Social Security Administration. Yes, getting Social Security Disability get easier as you get older. Many disabled people can get Social Security disability benefits until their full retirement age – which is now past age 67 for many – even if they are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits at age 62?
Severe Limitations Are Still Necessary Even Though Social Security Disability Gets Easier as You Get Older
In order to get disability benefits at any age there must be a severe impairment or combination of impairments that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful work activity. If a claimant over 50 years old has either exertional and/or non exertional limitations, and they are severe, there are legal presumptions, called grid rules, that make it easier to get benefits than it is for younger claimants.
Social Security Disability Gets Easier as you Get Older When You Have Exertional Limitations
Exertional Limitations are seven strength related limitations (like lifting, standing, walking, pushing, pulling, carrying and sitting) that limit your ability to do the physical demands of a job. Non exertional limitations functionally limit your ability to complete non-strength-related activities at work. They include mental limitations as well as all other physical limitations not included in the seven exertional limitations. Non exertional limitations can be caused by mental illness, like anxiety and depression, or by symptoms of pain.
Social Security Disability Gets Easier as You Get Older When You Also Have Non Exertional Limitations
- paying attention or concentrating;
- understanding or remembering detailed instructions;
- seeing, speaking or hearing (visual and communicative restrictions);
- using fingers and hands to manipulate, reach or handle objects (manipulative restrictions);
- functioning because of nervousness, anxiety, or depression;
- stooping, climbing, crawling, or crouching (postural restrictions); and
- being around noise and dust or in hot or cold temperature extremes (environmental restrictions).
Social Security law has regulations based on a person’s age, especially after age 50. A claimant still must prove inability to work – but if there are significant exertional limitations, it is easier to prove a claimant over 50 years old is disabled. This is because of assumptions made by Congress about the age-related difficulty of being retrained for less strenuous work.
Imagine a farm worker, truck driver or factory worker who has done very heavy work for an entire work career. For such a person, particularly someone with a limited education, a severe back injury prevents him from returning to his former work. Social Security recognizes that it is difficult at that age and educational level to retrain for a career change. For him, Social security Disability Gets easier as you get older. The story might be different for a 20 year old with the same injury, or even a 45 year old with a college degree. There the assumption would be that the person could get education and training to shift to less strenuous work.
In addition to obtaining and submitting medical records, it is important to get a professional assessment of “residual functional capacity.” This entails having a physician document any limitations in ability to stand, walk, lift, carry and sit.
Social Security Disability Pays More than SSA Early Retirement
Someone 60 years old might say: “I’ll just wait two years and take early retirement.” While that is a good choice for someone without a severe impairment, the truly disabled person can establish eligibility for Social Security disability and will receive more money per month than someone taking early retirement. That’s right. Claimants receive more money each month under the Social Security Disability Program than they would taking early retirement. While all payments are based on earnings records, the disability payment is essentially the amount that a claimant would get at full retirement age.