William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

SSDI after 50? It's easier than you think

When Jonathan found he could no longer lift the heavy crates he was expected to as part of his job, his doctor suggested he apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI). Jonathan was shocked. He knew he was having trouble, but assumed that he could just segue into another job at his company--for example a desk job.

Although he had only finished high school, he thought his company could find a place for him in the office. He was only 54, and while his back pain was getting more intense with each day, how could he possibly qualify for SSDI?

What are the rules?

Federal laws that have very specific rules regarding qualification determine SSDI benefit eligibility. While it would be helpful, and maybe more fruitful, for an SSDI examiner to simply make a decision based on his or her interpretation of your illness, the fact is that they must follow the steps outlined in the federal code.

If someone is under 50, they generally are considered to young enough to retrain in another job. For example, if Jonathan were 48 and was unable to lift the crates he needed to, the Social Security Administration (SSA) would no doubt expect him--barring any other disabling conditions--to retrain in a job that would allow him to generate an income.

Why is it different after age 50?

After the age of 50, however, the SSA considers you "advanced age." In categorizing Jonathan as advanced age, the SSA would then look a grid system it uses and make a determination regarding whether Jonathan is disabled. Because of his age, his lack of education and his unskilled work, there is a good chance that Jonathan would qualify for benefits.

The grid system that SSA uses can be confusing, but the good news is that there is room within it to qualify for benefits, and especially so if you are over the age of 50. SSDI is an insurance plan you have paid into since you began working. It is wise, therefore, to determine whether you are eligible to take advantage of it.

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