Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50

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Disability Over 50 Program- a Detailed Guide

Age-related diseases and illnesses occur more frequently as we age. As we get older, our bodies become less resistant and more likely to develop some severe form of disease. Because of these age-related conditions, many people are unable to work, and their bodies can reach a disabling condition at the age of 50.

If you are under the age of 50, the Social Security Administration will consider you as a “younger individual.” Whether you are qualifying for SSI, or SSD after 50 is determined based on work credits that the applicant has accumulated. SSD is for those who have accumulated sufficient credits in their work history.


Many individuals are unaware that there are special rules for disability programs for people over the age of 50. It gets easier for individuals to claim disability benefits. There is a particular set of rules that are termed as “grid rules.” The SSA considers the age of 50 as advanced age.

It’s fairly common knowledge that this is the age when less-dangerous disorders can grow into larger problems. Therefore, if you have a medical condition that limits your ability to work, you should read about the special rules for Social security disability over 50. Continue reading to know more about the rules and get all the information.
Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50

Social Security Disability rules after age 50

  • If you are applying for disability benefits, at first your medical condition will be assessed by the SSA. If your condition is severe enough, you will receive the disability benefits right away.
  • For this, you will have to check whether your condition is listed in the Blue Book or not. You can consult a disability lawyer to understand this. An attorney will review your application for you. They will help you know if it makes sense for you to apply for disability benefits or not.
  • Many rules change for disability benefits after 50 and it gets somewhat easier for individuals to get SSD benefits when they reach their 50s. If your medical condition doesn’t qualify, you may still be eligible for the benefits. You can get the benefits based on the grid rule assessment by the SSA.

Social security disability grid rules evaluate how disabled an individual is, regardless of their medical condition and diagnosis. It will help in assessing if you can work at any other job, or if your condition is limiting to the extent that you won’t be able to work. The grid rules analyse four significant factors which are as follows:

  • Residual functional capacity (RFC) – Residual functional capacity or RFC evaluates how much strength related work you can do after the limitations that have resulted from your medical condition. It considers if you are capable of walking, pushing, lifting, and standing. The less capability means the higher the chances you will be eligible for disability after 50. RFC has been categorized into four categories by the SSA – sedentary, light, medium, and heavy.
  1. Sedentary– An individual is not able to lift more than ten pounds.
  2. Light– An individual can lift ten pounds but not more than twenty pounds, occasionally.
  3. Medium– Involves frequent lifting of twenty-five pounds.
  4. Heavy– An individual can lift more than fifty pounds.

These are the levels of the work. If you can perform hard work, it won’t be easy to get disability benefits. This is because there are various job opportunities for people who can perform heavy work, as per the SSA. However, other factors such as skill level and education also play a significant role in determining your eligibility for disability benefits after 50.

  • Education – The education levels can be classified as the following:
  1. Illiterate or unable to communicate using the English language
  2. Limited education level or less than 11th grade
  3. A high school graduate or more
  4. Completion of a recent educational program that provided training for a skilled job

Again, the rule remains the same for education, i.e., lesser education means higher the chances of getting approval for the disability claim. However, the final decision will be a combination of all the four factors that come under grid rules.

  • Previous work experience– How you performed in your last job is another factor that the SSA uses to determine if you are eligible or not. Based on previous work experience, the applicant will be classified as skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled. If they have less experience, then the chances of getting the benefits will be higher. If they are unskilled and can do only light work, their eligibility for benefits increases.
  • Transferability of the skills– The SSA will evaluate if you had skills in your last job that you could transfer to a new and similar position. Fewer skills make increase your eligibility.

If you are disabled and older than 50, you should look at the above rules. For detailed disability over 50 information, you can get in touch with the social security office near you, read listings in the Blue Book, or talk to an attorney.