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Secret Claimant Age Policy

Posted on in Social Security Disability

I had a claimant ask me the following question recently: "Do you think the Social Security doctors would have given me a different work restriction if they did not know how old I was during the evaluation? It seems like they gave me a light enough restriction to just barely do work so that they could deny me, and not give me my benefits."

This is an excellent question. Age plays a crucial role in determining what legal standard applies to a particular claimant when evaluating whether he or she is entitled to Social Security disability benefits. Claimants under the age of 50 typically have a more difficult time obtaining benefits than those over 50. The same is true for claimants that are between the ages of 50-54 trying to get disability benefits compared to those who are over the age of 55.

The Social Security Administration makes it slightly easier to get disability benefits as the claimant goes up each listed age category. DDS doctors are fully aware of the importance of age and its legal implications when handing out work restrictions. Is it possible then, as the claimant above questioned, that some of the DDS doctors who already know the age of each claimant, give out a particular work restrictions knowing full well that he or she will be denied? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Blinding DDS doctors from the age of each claimant would be an interesting experiment to test just how much of their decision making is dependent on age versus the claimant's actual medical condition. The Social Security Administration has already made some of their policies blind to claimants and their representatives. For example, the Administration changed their policy on hearing notices, deciding not to tell claimants and their representatives which judge will be present at the administrative hearing. While I personally disagree with the Administration's decision to withhold such vital information, it does show that they are not adverse to making bold decisions. Why not make another bold decision and withhold the age of the claimant from DDS examiners to find out whether approval rates end up changing statistically as a result?

 

 

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