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Will My Age Be a Factor in Determining My Social Security Disability Claim?

Yes. Our society places great emphasis on the appearance and attributes of youth. However, when it comes to determining a Social Security Disability claim, youth can be a disadvantage. The younger you are, the more difficulty you may have in being approved for Social Security Disability benefits.

Your age, in combination with other considerations, such as residual functional capacity, education, skills, and work experience, are factors that the Social Security Administration will consider in determining whether you are disabled. They will also consider not only whether you are able to perform your prior work, but whether you can adjust to less demanding work – even if it means earning substantially less wages.

The Social Security Administration has established age categories and vocational guidelines that are used in determining whether or not an individual is disabled. While a very slight consideration is given to claimants between the ages of 44 to 49, Social Security law establishes a presumption that anyone less than 50 years old has the ability to undergo vocational retraining and adapt to other work. The burden of proving disability begins to decrease beginning at age 50. The public policy behind this rule is that claimants over age 50 will have significantly more difficulty relocating, returning to school, changing employment or careers, and learning new job skills than younger claimants with similar impairments. Anyone under age 50 should absolutely employ an experienced and competent Social Security Disability attorney advocating on your behalf.

If you are age 50 to 54, the Social Security Administration will consider that your age along with severe impairments and limited work experience would likely seriously affect your ability to adjust and retrain for other types of work. If you are 55 or older, the Social Security Administration will presume that your age will significantly affect your ability to make adjustments to other work. If you are 60 or older, these presumptions are even stronger. Another very important factor in proving disability at various ages is the physical exertion and skill levels you need to perform your past jobs. A very strong general rule of thumb is that the older you are, the lower the burden of proof you must meet to establish disability under Social Security guidelines.