Roeschke Law, LLC regularly works with individuals 50 and older in Las Vegas who are seeking benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t expect workers over the age of 50 to be retrained for new jobs after suffering a disabling medical condition, they are subject to different rules than younger workers.
While this gives older workers a better chance of obtaining disability benefits than younger workers, the majority of initial claims are frequently denied. That’s where our experienced Las Vegas disability lawyers come in.
Well-versed in the SSDI eligibility requirements for workers over the age of 50, we can help you obtain the disability benefits you deserve. When you become our client, we will guide you through all aspects of the claim process, including: preparing and submitting the application, handling the disability appeal, and representing you in disability hearings.
We understand your concerns as a disabled older worker and will address those concerns with informed representation and caring, efficient service. We handle all disability claims on a contingency basis, so you will not pay any attorneys’ fees until we win benefits for you. Please contact our office today for a free consultation with one of our experienced Las Vegas disability lawyers.
What is a disability?
Under SSA guidelines, a disability is defined as a medical condition that (1) is expected to last at least one year and result in death and (2) prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity. In addition, the SSA maintains a list of qualifying impairments known as the Blue Book. Listed medical conditions that automatically qualify for disability benefits include:
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Vision and hearing loss
- Respiratory diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Digestive tract problems
- Blood disorders
- Auto-immune disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
The SSA also considers physical and mental conditions to be disabling, such as:
- Back and joint injuries
- Cystic fibrosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney disease
Generally, you are eligible for SSDI if your medical condition is included in the list of qualifying impairments and you meet the other qualifications and eligibility requirements. You may also qualify if your condition is not listed, however, as long as a disability examiner determines that it is medically equivalent to a listed condition.
What are the SSD age categories?
Besides having an illness or injury that prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA), age is a key factor in determining whether you can perform the same type of work or any other type of work.
Because Social Security recognizes that older, disabled workers are more difficult to retrain, they are divided into the following four age categories:
- Approaching retirement age (60-65) — For this group, the SSA will consider whether the claimants past work skills are transferable.
- Advanced age (age 55 or older) — The ability of applicants in this age group to adjust to other work may be significantly affected.
- Approaching advanced age (age 50-54) — The claimant’s age, impairment and limited work experience all impact on his or her ability to be retrained
- Younger Person (under age 50) — The ability of a younger person to adjust to other work may not be significantly impacted. Those between the ages of 45-49 may be treated differently than those who are not yet 45, however.
What is the Medical-Vocational Grid?
Social Security’s Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the Grid) are designed to assist disability examiners in making disability determinations. The grid is based on factors such as the worker’s age, education, and work experience in relation to a specific SSA rule.
As an example, a worker 55 years old who is limited to sedentary work because of an impairment may qualify for benefits while a 35-year-old claimant with the same impairment and similar education background may not be eligible for SSDI.
To make this determination, a disability examiner will consider the residual functional capacity (RFC) of the claimant. Basically, this is the amount of physical work a disabled individual can perform. The four classifications of RFC are:
- Sedentary — The claimant can lift no more than 10 pounds
- Light — The applicant can lift no more than 10 pounds frequently and no more than 20 pounds occasionally
- Medium — The claimant can lift no more than 25 pounds frequently and 50 pounds occasionally
- Heavy — The claimant can lift more than 50 pounds frequently
RFC also involves an assessment of the claimant’s ability to perform daily activities, such as carrying, climbing, bending, using his or her hands, and coping with emotional distress and environmental limitations.
What factors other than age does the SSA consider?
In addition to age, the SSA considers factors when making disability determinations, such as your medical information and educational level. To be eligible for SSDI, your condition must be “medically determinable.”
This means that your impairment has been subjected to clinical testing and is supported by medical evidence. In addition to preventing you from performing your previous job, your condition must also make it unlikely that you can adjust to another job. While your education is a key factor in determining if you have transferable skills, the SSA typically finds that workers over 50 cannot be retrained.
The last factor the SSA considers in your SSDI claim is your ability to earn a living. While you can work while receiving disability benefits, there is a cap on monthly earnings. In 2020, the earnings limit is $1,170 per month; earning more than this is considered substantial gainful activity.
Over the Age of 50? Contact Our Experienced Las Vegas Disability Attorneys
At Roeschke Law, LLC we are committed to protecting the rights of disabled older workers and helping them obtain the benefits they need and deserve. If you are over the age of 50 and cannot work due to an illness or injury, turn to our capable Las Vegas disability lawyers. Please contact our office today so we start working on your claim.