Those receiving social security disability (SSDI) benefits have been determined to have an impairment that is severe enough to prevent them from performing their past job, and other subsequent jobs. While SSDI is available to many individuals, the rules are slightly different if you are over the age of 50.

Age 50 and SSDI Approval Rules

If you are over 50 and applying for SSDI because you are no longer able to do your past job, the rules are slightly different in terms of finding other work. For younger individuals, there is an expectation that they can find other forms of employment that aren’t directly related to their past work if their condition improves enough to do so – unless they are found to be totally and permanently disabled. But for someone over 50, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that you may not be able to adapt to a new type of work that you are unfamiliar with.

Specifically, you may be limited to only be able to do sedentary work, such as on a computer or other less physically demanding job. But, if you are over 50, it may also be true that you do not have transferable skills to this type of work. If no sedentary jobs are found that would utilize your past skillset, you could be approved for disability at that point.

The age consideration once you hit 50 years old is due to the disability grid rules.

Understanding Disability Grid Rules and Age 50

older worker manual laborIf you are not ruled to be totally and permanently disabled, you are still able to qualify for benefits based on the grid rule assessment. The grid looks at four different factors when analyzing someone:

  • Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
  • Education
  • Previous Work Experience
  • Transferability of Skills

If you are found to only be able to perform work that is more sedentary, which the first factor (RFC) looks at, then the other three factors are considered. If education and previous work experience are limited when it comes to adapting to sedentary work, that is factored in. Even more consequential can be the transferability of skills. This is where the age 50 barrier comes in, as anyone over the age of 50 has more leniency when it comes to qualifying for other work.

The 50-year-old exception is not exactly a ticket to being approved, but it does open up more leniency to the process, as many older individuals will have a tough, or impossible, time learning different skills that would sustain them.

If you have questions on the social security disability rules after age 50, or need help with an application, or have been denied, get in touch with the professionals at Tabak Law. Call risk-free and confidential at 844-432-0114 or fill out a form on

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