For those over 65 who are unable to work due to having developed age-related impairments, the SSA has set up special rules known as 'tables' and 'grids' to determine the 'severity' of the disability that prevents them from working. There are two main distinctions, for people over the age of 65. First, there would be individuals who would be automatically considered eligible to qualify for benefits if they fall into a special profile established by the SSA. Second, there are the effects of old age on the determination of your ability to work that is less demanding than your prior jobs.
Vocational Factors that Affect Your Ability to Qualify
Vocational factors such as age, your education and work history may help your disability examiner in determining the severity of your age related impairments.
- I. Age The older you are, the more your chances of winning benefits. This is because age plays a huge role in impacting your residual functional capacity (RFC) which allows you to do 'other work'. Commonly, older people are less likely to be able to perform jobs they could do before, or even win back the same positions as before. If you are between the ages of 18 and 49, the SSA would define you as a 'younger individual'. If you're between the ages of 50 and 54, you're considered to be closely approaching advanced age. However, for each year beyong 65, the SSA understands that your impairments may be worse than those younger than you.
- II. Education It is common knowledge that having a limited education greatly limits the job prospects of a person. The SSA divides your education levels into four major categories, i.e., illiterate (unable to communicate in English), marginal (less than 7th grade), limited (less than 12th grade), or high school, or more.
- III. Work The SSA divides the work into three major categories, i.e., unskilled, semi-skilled or skilled. Each type has a different analysis for RFC by the disability examiner. Moreover, the SSA has a specific rule to analyze if the work was performed under substantial gainful activity. (Read to find out How to prove to the SSA you can't do work)
Special Age Related Rules for Benefits for Individual over 65 Through Medical Vocational Allowance
- I. The Grid: The SSA has developed a series of tables known as the medical vocational guidelines (also called the med-voc guidelines, or 'the grid'). Each rule sets forth specific combinations for relevant factors (your RFC, age, education, and work experience) that determine whether the SSA will expect you to do other work. When determining if an individual is able to do any job Social Security will consider an individual's age as the main factor. In case of 65 and above, they would be placed in the grid (60 and above) i.e., the highest factor.
- II. Special Profiles: The SSA has two categories of workers over 65 who automatically qualify for age-related benefits. These include:
- -Those having no work experience. To qualify for this category you must be atleast 55 years old, have an 11th grade education or less (with no significant job training) and not have worked in the last 15 years
- -Those who have performed strenuous physical unskilled physical labor for many years. To qualify for this category you must have worked in unskilled labor for atleast 35 years and have an education of sixth grade or less, with no other significant training.
Category A: Sedentary or light work: This requires only minimal lifting and consists mainly of sitting throughout the day. Moreover, an applicant would be considered disabled if
- a)They haven't finished high school or don't have recent education that allows them to enter directly into skilled work, and
- b)Don't have any skills that can be transferred easily and with very little change from previous work to another job
Category B: Medium work: If you have an RFC for medium work (that requires a greater level of lifting than sedentary or light work and requires standing and walking for most of the day), you would be found disabled if you:
- a)Completed 11th grade or less and do not have any prior experience, or
- b)Completed 6th grade or less and have no prior experience, only unskilled work experience, or your prior semi-skilled or skilled work experience left you with no skills that you can transfer to another job.
If you aren't disabled according to the above scenarios, there may be other ways to prove your disability benefits. We suggest you consult our expert disability attorneys for legal guidance on qualifying for benefits through medical vocational allowance over age 65.