The Impact On Disability Claims As People Get Older
The Social Security Administration takes age into account when considering whether to approve a person for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA looks to see whether younger workers have the ability to do any type of work that exists in significant numbers in the United States economy. While younger workers may not be able to continue doing one type of work, they may be able to do any other work that is less physically or mentally demanding. In general, people under age 50 need to establish a complete inability to do any type of work whatsoever on a full-time (40 hours per week) basis.
Older workers may face a different challenge in proving disability. If the SSA sees that you have worked your entire life in one profession and that you are now in your 50s, the question is whether your skills will be transferable to another job within your physical or mental capabilities.
The SSA will review your medical records for evidence that you can or cannot do your past work, looking at information such as how much you can lift, how long you can sit or stand, or how well you can focus and maintain attention and concentration. If the SSA finds that you cannot work in your own profession, is there an expectation that your skills are transferable to other, less demanding work? If the answer is no, you should be found to be disabled and receive the benefits you need and deserve.
If you are a 50-year-old nurse who had been working on a hospital floor for many years whose health problems limit her ability to stand, walk and lift, the SSA recognizes that you have skills involving medical knowledge and care for sick or injured people that may be transferable to chart review or other types of less physically demanding work using your acquired skills and knowledge. However, if your health problems also significantly impair your ability to maintain attention and concentration, your skills will no longer be considered transferable and a finding of disability is warranted.
If you are a 55-year-old carpenter with a bad back and a bad knee so that you are significantly impaired in your ability to stand, walk and lift, you are less likely to have skills that would transfer to less physically demanding work unless you have spent a lot of time in office preparing drawings, doing estimating and pricing rather than actual in the field carpentry, which skills could be transferable to less physically demanding work. Again, however, if your health problems impair your ability to retain information, to maintain attention and concentration, then your skills may not be transferable and a finding of disability would be warranted.
What Does This Mean For Workers?
Every person’s situation is different, and it is impossible to give accurate legal advice over the Internet. The only way that you can know for sure about whether or not you may have a potentially winnable disability claim is to speak with an experienced attorney.
For younger workers, it is especially critical that you establish through your medical records and the opinions of your treating doctors a complete inability to do any type of work whatsoever on a full-time, eight-hours-per-day, five-days-per-week basis. This is an extremely difficult burden of proof. That is why it is critical to see your doctors, therapists and other health professionals on a regular basis and to be straightforward with them. (You cannot tell a doctor or a therapist that you are doing “OK” and expect the SSA to find that you are not able to work; people who are unable to work are not “OK.”) That is also why it is critical to get the legal help you need as early in the Social Security Disability process as possible.
Get The Legal Help You Need
No matter what your age, talking with an experienced disability lawyer is a good idea when SSDI or SSI benefits are at stake. Whether you are making an initial application for benefits or your claim has been denied, I can assist you. You typically pay no fees unless my team secures or reinstates your SSDI or SSI benefits. Contact my law firm today for a free consultation. Call 215-268-7274 or toll-free at 1-800-346-7600.