Disability claimants at age 50-54, will your benefits be denied?

In addition to looking towards the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of medical impairments, the SSA examiner will also look into a person’s physical incapability such as age, education, relevant skills and work experience in an RFC form to decide their disability case.

However, apart from the above the SSA may also determine your case through the ‘grid rules’ – these are a series of labels or conditions that the SSA would decide on whether to grant or deny a disability claim. For people aged between 50-54 this might not be the best bet but it is an option. Also this is still yet another way to win or lose your claims, this is not the final conclusion – even if the grid denies the disability claims of a person aged 50-54, they might still win the case through the exertion level strategy:

Exertion levels and how are they determined

Since the SSA labels people aged between 50-54 as closely approaching advanced age, they are also analyzed differently for each exertion level. The SSA has specific rules to analyze people in this age group.

For each age group, the grid is divided by exertional levels; that is, what level of work an applicant’s RFC (residual functional capacity assessment) states that an applicant can do. The different RFC levels are for work at the following levels:

  • sedentary
  • light
  • medium
  • heavy, and
  • very heavy

Grid Rules for people aged at 50-54

The SSA matches a decision to a person’s skill set and education level accordingly for people aged 50-54 as below:

Sedentary Work RFC

Disabled

  • Completed 11th grade or less with no skills and no work;
  • Completed 11th grade or less with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  • High school graduate or higher with no skills and no work;
  • High school graduate or higher with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;

Not disabled

  • Completed 11th grade or less with skilled or semiskilled work but transferable skills;
  • High school graduate or higher with skilled or semi-skilled work but transferable skills;
  • Recent education that provides entry into higher skilled work, whether semiskilled or skilled work or even transferable or untransferable;

Limited and Medium Work RFC

Disabled

Illiterate or unable to communicate in English, unskilled or no work;

Not disabled

  • Completed 11th grade or less with no skills and no work;
  • Completed 11th grade or less with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  • High school graduate or higher with no skills and no work;
  • High school graduate or higher with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  • Completed 11th grade or less with skilled or semiskilled work but transferable skills;
  • High school graduate or higher with skilled or semi-skilled work but transferable skills;
  • Recent education that provides entry into higher skilled work, whether semiskilled or skilled work or even transferable or untransferable;

Heavy Work RFC

If your prior job was a heavy work then subsequently your RFC would also be a heavy work. This means that if you were able to do heavy work then you will also be able to perform medium, light and sedentary work on your skill set. So wining a disability claim on your physical impairments for a heavy work RFC may not be possible.

However, if you are aged between 50-54 and are able to prove to the SSA that you are unable to perform due to other conditions such as inability to focus due to Post-traumatic stress disorder or unable to stoop due to chronic back pain, then you may as well win the claim.

The grid rules may be a tough tool to crack. You may consult a disability attorney for specified help on your case.