Special Rules for Social Security Disability Over Age 50

Did you know that there are special rules for Social Security Disability programs for people age 50 and over? At age 50 and over, having a medical condition that limits your ability to work could qualify you for disability benefits even if you have been denied in the past. 

How Does Age Affect Social Security Disability?

After you turn 50 years old, your age becomes an important factor when filing a Social Security Disability claim. In fact, it can sometimes be easier to be awarded disability after 50. Those under age 50 are considered “younger individuals” and must prove the inability to perform any competitive employment to be awarded disability benefits. Generally speaking, individuals aged 50 and over might not be required to adjust to a different type of work even if physically able.

Rules for Social Security Disability After 50

When applying for disability benefits, your medical condition will be assessed by the Social Security Administration so they can determine if your condition qualifies as severe enough to receive benefits immediately. By working with a social security disability attorney, you can determine if your condition is listed in the SSA Blue Book and then proceed to go through the application process. If your medical condition does not qualify, you may still be eligible for benefits. The SSA uses the “grid rule” to help them determine eligibility. 

What Is The Social Security Disability Grid?

The Social Security Disability grid has rules that help evaluate the level of disability individuals may have, regardless of any diagnosis or medical condition. There are four factors that the grid rule analyzes, including residual functional capacity (RFC), education, previous work experience, and transferable skills. 

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

RFC evaluates the amount of strength-related work an individual can perform. It will assess whether an individual can push, lift, walk, and stand. For individuals who have a low capacity to perform these actions, their chances of being awarded disability after 50 are increased. A person’s RFC is classified into four categories:

  • Heavy: able to lift more than 50 lbs
  • Medium: able to perform frequent lifting of 25 lbs
  • Light: can lift 10 lbs but no more than 20 lbs occasionally
  • Sedentary: unable to lift more than 10 lbs


A person’s level of education is a factor in determining eligibility for disability after 50. In general, less education means the chances of being approved for a disability claim are increased. The levels of education are classified in four different ways:

  • Individual has completed a recent educational program that serves as skilled job training
  • Individual is a high school graduate or higher
  • Individual has a limited education level of 11th grade or less
  • Individual is illiterate or unable to communicate

Prior Work Experience

The assessment of an individual’s previous work experience includes how they performed in their last job. An applicant will be classified as either unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled. The less experience an individual has, the more likely it is that they will qualify for disability after 50. For individuals who are unskilled or can only perform light work, the eligibility for benefits may increase. 

Transferable Skills

The number of skills an individual has gained from previous jobs will have an impact on disability benefits eligibility. The SSA will determine if there are skills obtained at a previous job that are transferable to a new position that is similar to the last one. Those with fewer skills may have an increase in eligibility. 

Need Help Applying for Social Security Disability?

Sometimes it can be difficult to ask for help when you need it. If you are 50 or over and need assistance in applying for social security disability benefits, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill. During tough times, you may be unsure where to turn and feel like all hope is lost. We’re here to tell you it’s not. Our attorneys are dedicated to representing people just like you. Schedule a free evaluation today to find out whether or not you are eligible for disability benefits.