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Special rules for workers over age 50 who apply for disability benefits

According to the Social Security Administration, more than 25 percent of today's 20-year-olds will be put out of work by a disabling condition before reaching the age of 67. A disability becomes more likely as workers age and their bodies become less resistant to injury and illness.

Fortunately, for qualifying disabled workers who have paid enough into the system, compensation may be available in the form of Social Security Disability benefits. As of June, 2013, the Social Security Administration reported that there were 8.9 million disabled workers receiving Social Security Disability at an average monthly benefit of $1,129. While a worker of any age can apply for benefits after suffering a disability, for older workers, special rules may make it easier to obtain Social Security Disability.

Older workers might not be required to adjust to a different type of work even if physically able

One of the chief considerations in determining your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is your ability to engage in the work you did before or to adjust to doing some other type of work. However, the Social Security Administration recognizes that for older workers, it can be more difficult to adjust to a new type of work. Older workers are treated more favorably in the "grid" the Social Security Administration looks at in gauging eligibility for disability benefits after finding that you cannot perform the work you had been performing before becoming disabled.

There are four categories of functioning capacity used by the Social Security Administration, generally defined by the amount you are required to lift:

• Sedentary - does not involve lifting more than ten pounds

• Light - involves lifting of tens pounds or less frequently and occasional lifting of no more than twenty pounds

• Medium - involves frequent lifting of twenty five pounds and occasional lifting of fifty pounds

• Heavy - frequent lifting involved of more than fifty pounds

There are many caveats, but generally speaking, older workers get a break in the grid in that even if they may be physically capable of performing at some functional capacity, they may not be required to adjust to a new type of work and may be eligible for Social Security Disability. For example, workers between the age of 50 and 54 may be able to collect disability benefits even if they can perform sedentary labor; those 55 to 59 could be eligible even if able to perform light work; and, in some circumstances, those age 60 to age 64 may be able to collect Social Security Disability even if able to perform up to medium work.

Remember, however, that these are generalizations and there are many special rules that pertain to the grid depending on education level, work experience and other factors.

Call a Social Security Disability lawyer if you are an older worker facing a disability

If you are an older worker who has become disabled, you may have a better shot at getting the benefits you need. Even so, the rules governing over-age-50 disability claims are complicated, and it is still important to proceed with the right legal help in order to get the full benefits you need in a timely fashion.

A Social Security Disability lawyer can file a claim on your behalf and address initial denials or any other snags that arise in the process. Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer today to get help collecting the disability benefits you have earned.

Law Offices of  Judith S. Leland, APLC Let a Former SSI Judge Handle Your Disability Claim

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