It goes without saying, the older you are, the better chance you have of being awarded disability. Age 50 is the "cut off" point for claimants filing for social security disability. If you had two claimants with nearly identical disabilities and backgrounds and only one of them is older than 50, the older claimant is more likely to receive benefits than the younger claimant. Claimants younger than 50 simply have a harder burden to overcome, although it is not impossible.
Why is it harder for younger claimants to receive disability benefits? If you are disabled it does not matter how old you are, right? Well not exactly. The social security administration has stated that even if a claimant cannot perform substantially all sedentary work, it does not mean that they are entitled to receive benefits. The reason being your background may dictate you working in another field. The SSA will look at your age, education, work experience, etc and determine if you have any transferable work skills that enable you to work despite your disability. This becomes important when you have a disability that prohibits you from doing substantially all sedentary work and you are below age 50. The SSA believes that claimants under age 50 have not yet reached an age that is old enough to limit their ability to adjust to other work. Is it fair, probably not especially if you are 47 and have the same disability as a claimant who is 51. But in defense of the SSA policy, there has to be some point where advanced age significantly becomes a factor.
Claimants under age 50 are put up against the task of having to rebut the testimony of a vocational expert at their hearing. This is a difficult task for many claimants. Vocational experts have often times heard several cases and have years of experience. Social security disability attorneys deal with vocational experts on a daily basis. If you find yourself in this situation, you are better off having counsel on your side to handle the cross examination of a vocational expert.
Notwithstanding your age, what kind of limitations will end in a favorable decision? While these are no per se conditions that would end in benefits, if present they greatly improve your chances of receiving disability benefits despite your age. Claimants who have attained the age of 45, meet the grids and are unable to read or write in English or speak English generally requires a finding of disability. Claimants under 45 do not have this luxury. A significant deterioration in the use of hands and fingers limits the amount of jobs a claimant could possibly do despite their disability. Claimants with difficulty doing a significant amount of prolonged sitting, standing, walking reduce the amount of transferable jobs available for a younger claimant. Visual limitations as well as severe mental impairments reduce the amount of available jobs. This list is not exhaustive, but it provides a good base to give you a better chance of predicting the result of your SSDI hearing.
While we have stressed the importance of an experienced social security disability attorney before, it is not any more important than it is if you are under age 50. If you are in this situation I would suggest you contact an attorney prior to your hearing.