If you are an individual over the age of 65, you can qualify for disability in either of the two ways:
- I.Meeting or equaling a listing If you have an impairment or disability listed in Social Security's Blue Book of Impairments, then you will automatically qualify for the disability benefits. Listings can be equaled if you have an impairment that is very similar to, but not exactly the same as, a listing in the Blue Book.
- II.Medical-vocational allowances The Social Security Administration will look at your limitations (including residual functional capacity), age, education level and work history under substantial gainful activity in deciding whether you can do other kinds of less demanding work than your previous job. If not, you would be approved through a 'vocational allowance' under SSI.
However, choosing what to apply for is a tough choice because each type of benefits have their own pros and cons. If you have been working full time, but got a disability which left you unable to continue work under substantial gainful activity (SGA), you might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, if you are older than 65 you might wonder if you can still applyfor disability benefits or if you might as well go ahead and apply for your social security retirement benefits.
Rules for Over 65 People to Meet the Disability Listing
For people over 65, the SSA has the same rules such as for meeting or equaling a listing, but requires some extra consideration for those over the age of 65. Most common are as follows:
A Thorough Review of age-related symptoms: If a disability applicant is over 65, Social Security rules require the claims examiner or administrative law judge (ALJ) to review their disability symptoms (even those not listed in the Blue Book) to carefully review the applicant's medical record. This is to identify any possible age-related impairment, such as decreased hearing ability or eyesight, memory loss due to the aging process, decreased physical strength, orthopedic issues not listed in the SSA's Blue Book, etc. In addition, while speaking about your symptoms, your disability examiner would be on the lookout for symptoms/signs that may be age-related limitations (for instance, I don't read much anymore because I can't see or read too well due to age-induced vision loss) or dementia related statements, for instance, 'my daughter said she visited me the other day but I don't remember'. The examiner or the ALJ should also be aware that statements from people who know the applicant may raise more considerations about possible impairments.
Impairments can't be dismissed: Social Security Administration also notes that your disability examiner or the ALJ is not to ignore age-related impairments that could hamper your ability to perform work you previously were able to do. These may include arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, osteoporosis, poor vision or hearing loss or memory impairments as being normal for the person's age.
Length of age-related impairments: Social security rules direct examiners and judges to carefully examine the facts before determining that an individual over the age of 65 may not have to have been disabled for atleast 12 months (and so is not eligible for disability benefits due to the durational rule). The reason behind this special rule being age-related impairments in people aged over 65 are often long-term ailments and are not too often short enough to be controlled or cured within a short time span.
If you are over the age of 65 and are confused whether you may qualify for disability benefits or not, you can consult our expert disability attorneys to learn more about how your conditions can qualify under any one of the above criteria.