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How Does Age Affect Approval for Social Security Disability? September 5, 2019

Downtown High Point, High Point
How Does Age Affect Approval for Social Security Disability?, High Point, North Carolina

When an injury or illness prevents someone from working, they may qualify for benefits under Social Security disability law. However, many younger people don’t realize this option is available to them. There’s a common belief you have to be of retirement age to receive disability payments, but the Social Security Administration recognizes that anyone can become disabled at any stage in life. Thus, while age can play an integral part in deciding whether to approve or deny a claim, a variety of other factors are also considered. The following overview looks at how age affects the ability to collect benefits.

What Role Does Age Play in Awarding Social Security Disability Claims?

Why Age Is a Factor in Determining Eligibility

Social Security disability laws exist to provide assistance for applicants with a medical condition that falls onto the SSA’s list of impairments. For those who don’t qualify because of the nature of their injury or illness, the SSA will base eligibility on age, education, and work experience. First, they will determine what the applicant’s work capabilities are, referred to as their residual functional capacity, and compare that to the kind of work they previously performed.

Social Security disability lawThis is where age generally becomes a significant factor, as there is an assumption that individuals over 50 are at a disadvantage when it comes to adjusting to a different type of job. In turn, the chances of getting approved for benefits tend to increase as individuals age.  

How the Medical-Vocational Grid Works

While the SSA is more likely to award older applicants benefits, Social Security disability laws are meant to cover anyone who meets the definition of disability. To ensure a more consistent approval process, the SSA uses a set of guidelines, known as the medical-vocational grid, to help decide a person’s eligibility. Applicants are grouped into categories according to age so they can be evaluated on whether or not they can return to work while factoring in their level of education, communication skills, and ability to lift different weights. Thus, younger applicants often have a bigger burden of proof to show they’re disabled.


If you have any questions about your eligibility to receive benefits, contact the legal team at Hill & Hovis in High Point, NC. They offer more than 60 years of combined experience and extensive knowledge of Social Security disability law. Should your claim be wrongfully denied, they will provide the guidance and representation you need to successfully file an appeal. Call (336) 883-6000 to arrange a consultation or visit them online to learn more about their services.