Social Security Disability Over 50
What Special Rules Apply to Social Security Disability Over 50?
Applying for Social Security Disability Over 50 benefits in Florida is a challenging process regardless of your age.
However, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) will review your disability benefits application differently if you are under 50 then it will if you are over 50.
The good news for you if you are over 50 years of age is that SSA rules make it easier for you to successfully claim Disability benefits and to appeal denials of your claim.
In either case, your odds of success are maximized by retaining an experienced Orlando Social Security Disability Attorney to assist you with your claim.
This article will discuss the baseline rules for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits awards, including eligibility, the application timeline, and the process of appealing denials of SSD claims.
From there, the Article will then discuss how those rules are different if you are over 50.
Finally, we will conclude with a path forward to beginning your SSD application or appealing an existing Disability benefits denial.
Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability in Florida?
Florida residents are eligible for Social Security Disability under or over 50 if they meet the basic eligibility requirements of the SSA.
What are those requirements?
To obtain Social Security Disability benefits, you must:
- Be unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity;
- And suffer from an impairing condition, as defined by the SSA.
What Is Substantial Gainful Activity?
In order to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, you must be unable to engage in what the SSA calls “Substantial Gainful Activity” (“SGA”).
SGA is, essentially, a maximum amount of income that can be earned on a monthly average basis to be considered disabled by the SSA.
Note that the SGA income amount is not optional. You cannot simply refrain from working and earning more income when otherwise physically capable of doing so.
SGA constitutes the most amount of income, per month, that your medical condition allows you to earn. If your condition is not serious enough to prevent you from earning a greater amount of income, it is not an “impairment” for purposes of Social Security Disability benefits awards.
For 2022, if your condition is blindness, your SGA amount is $2260.00.
If your condition is something other than blindness, your SGA amount is $1350.00.
What Conditions Are Considering Impairing by the SSA?
If you are determined to be unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity, the SSA will next consider whether yours is an impairment that is sufficiently disabling.
According to Social Security Regulation, a medical condition is a “disability” when:
- The condition can be expected to result in death; or
- The condition can be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months or more.
First, the SSA will ask whether your condition is included in its Bluebook catalogue of disabling conditions.
The SSA Bluebook lists medical conditions that, by default, meet the definition of “disability” for Florida Social Security Disability claim applications.
However, simply because your condition is listed in the Bluebook does not mean that you will be granted disability benefits. Each condition listed in the Bluebook contains specific criteria for a Disability benefits award.
Once you file an application for Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will review your medical records and other documentation to ascertain whether or not your condition aligns with the Bluebook description.
The Bluebook breaks down possibly acceptable conditions into the following sub-categorizations:
- Musculoskeletal disorders;
- Special senses and speech;
- Respiratory disorders;
- Cardiovascular system;
- Digestive system;
- Genitourinary disorders;
- Hematological disorders;
- Skin disorders;
- Endocrine disorders;
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems;
- Neurological disorders;
- Mental disorders;
- and immune system disorders.
It is important to note that, just because your condition is not included in the SSA Bluebook does not mean that you are ineligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Your particular condition will be reviewed by the SSA to determine whether it meets the criteria for a “disability” as defined above on its own merits.
What Is the Social Security Disability Over 50 Application Process?
You may or may not decide to retain an Orlando Disability Attorney to file your initial benefits claim with the SSA.
If you do retain a Florida Disability Lawyer to assist you with your application, you will ensure that your application is not denied for minor failures that could have been easily avoided.
An Orlando Social Security Attorney will help you to ensure that you have gathered all of the necessary medical and other documentation required by the SSA.
In particular, your lawyer will ensure that you produce proper documentation detailing:
- Your doctor’s examination and diagnosis records;
- Your laboratory test and surgical records and history;
- A complete listing of prescriptions, including dosages and effects;
- Work history;
- Income history
- Tax returns;
- Documentation verifying your identity;
- And more.
Generally, you will apply online or via telephone, but it is possible to apply in person as well.
It is based upon this documentation that the SSA will determine whether or not your medical condition qualifies you for a Social Security Disability benefits award.
Initial claims determinations take 30-90 days for the SSA to make.
If your claim is approved, the SSA will inform you of your award amount and the start date of benefits payments.
If your claim is denied, it is time to consult an Orlando Disability Lawyer.
Appealing Initial Disability Benefits Claims Denials
The vast majority of Social Security Disability benefits claims are initially denied by the SSA.
If yours is among them, therefore, there is no reason to take “No” for an answer. You are not alone.
However, if you decide to appeal your denial without expert professional legal assistance, you will be failing to maximize your odds of success.
Without a Florida disability lawyer, the odds are good that your appeal will not be successful, although this will vary from case to case.
The SSD appeals process generally involves 4 further opportunities to argue your case:
- Request for Reconsideration
A request for reconsideration will result in a new SSA examiner and other personnel taking a fresh look at your file. Additional evidence not previously provided may be submitted.
- Hearing Before An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
If the request for reconsideration is unsuccessful (and most are), your next step will be to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This is a hearing at which the ALJ will hear evidence, including your testimony and the testimony of expert medical witnesses. Your lawyer will also be able to question you.
- Appeals Council and Federal Courts
If the ALJ hearing doesn’t result in a favorable decision, your Disability Attorney will next assist you in further appealing the claim to the SSA’s Appeals Council and, beyond that, to file a lawsuit on your behalf in Federal Court.
How The SSD Claim Process Changes If You Are Over 50
So what is different about the Social Security Disability claims process if you are over 50?
Significantly, the determination as to whether you are able to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity is differently assessed if you are over 50.
The work capability of older workers is considered more favorably by the SSA. In particular, the SSA will consider your ability to perform 4 different types of labor differently:
- Sedentary: Work not requiring lifting more than 10 lbs.
- Light: Work requiring lifting of 10-20 lbs.
- Medium: Work requiring lifting of 25-50 lbs.
- Heavy: Work requiring lifting of more than 50 lbs.
At age 50, you may be able to collect SSD benefits even if able to perform sedentary labor. At more advanced ages, the consideration expands to light and medium levels of work.
Further, after age 50, you will not be required to prove to the SSA that you can’t perform a type of work other than the one you did before becoming impaired. After age 55, this consideration is further extended. The SSA, at that age, will be even less likely to require that you prove that you cannot perform the labor of other sorts available in the US workplace.
Let an Orlando Social Security Disability Attorney Assist You
If you are an Orlando resident over 50 considering filing a Social Security Disability claim, consulting an experienced Disability Lawyer will ensure that your application receives the most favorable reception by the SSA possible.
Orlando Social Security Attorney Shea Fugate has represented Florida residents with Disability claims for over 20 years. Whether your claim is initially allowed or denied and requires appeal up through the Federal Court appellate process, Attorney Fugate will fight for your rights from initial meeting to final determination.