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Age and Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted on in Social Security Disability

Fair or unfair, the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes it much easier to receive Social Security disability benefits as you get older. In fact, for claimants under the age of 50 it can sometimes seem as though you have to be near death to actually have a chance in obtaining the benefits. SSA will most likely argue that the older someone gets the more difficult it is for them to recover from a disabling condition, transfer job skills to a new profession, and adapt to change. There is some truth to those statements.

One problem with the current disability system is an over-dependence on age as a key factor in determining someone's qualification for disability benefits. Take Jason, a client of mine several years ago, who was 42 years old at the time and suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. He has pain all over his body including his feet, legs, back, shoulders, neck, and hands. Medications have not helped to fully alleviate his constant pain and he had to be hospitalized on a number of occasions due to the excruciating pain. Jason has a high school education and worked as a janitor for a number of years. The judge at Jason's hearing agreed that he could not perform his past relevant work as a janitor, but ruled that he still has the capacity to perform other easier jobs in the economy and is therefore not disabled.

Candace on the other hand was able to successfully win her claim for Social Security disability benefits. Candace like Jason has a high school education and worked as a janitor for a number of years. Most people would probably agree that Candace's medical condition is not as disabling as Jason's. She suffers from the recurrent side effects of an incorrectly set ankle that she broke three times and is morbidly obese. Although her medical condition is not as severe as Jason's, Candace is 60 years old and therefore did not have to go through the same strict criteria that he had to. The judge ruled that she could not perform her past work as a janitor and cannot work at a job where she has to stand most of the day and thus found her disabled.

The current Social Security disability system places too much emphasis on age as a determinant in whether claimant's are deserving of receiving Social Security disability benefits. The brief story of Jason and Candace is one example of how much of a factor age can play on the disability evaluation process.

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