One of the most important criteria is your age. Social Security has decided your age is a very important factor. This reflects the philosophy that at certain ages it becomes more difficult to adapt to new situations, demands, and circumstances. So, if you are age 49 or younger, Social Security says every job in the United States is available. This means such jobs as toll booth collector, identification clerk, security monitor watcher, credit card clerk, etc. have to be ruled out.
Thus, even if you have an orthopaedic impairment that rules out your past relevant work (PRW) as a warehouse worker but you are 49 or younger, you would not be considered disabled because you have not ruled out the light/sedentary jobs I have cited above. This is so even if you have never been trained or educated for light/sedentary jobs. Social Security will assume you are still young enough to adapt to new job situations.
If you fall into the age category 50-54 what SSA calls Approaching Advanced Age, you receive a bit more favorable treatment from Social Security. However, if you can still any jobs in the past that were PRW you cannot be considered disabled. But even if you cannot do any PRW jobs, your still relatively young age can still defeat your claim. Social Security does have the burden to show you cannot do other jobs when you have shown you cannot do PRW. But Social Security can meet its burden of proof by using a vocational expert to testify that (despite your orthopaedic impairment) you can still do other jobs in the national economy.
If you fall into the age category 55-59 what SSA calls Advanced Age, you now receive much more favorable treatment by SSA. Again, if you cannot do PRW, the burden again shifts to Social Security to show you can do other jobs. But if your Advanced Education is combined with lack of education and skills you may be close to a winning disability case. This is especially the case if you also have impairment restrictions that restrict you to sedentary work. Sedentary (sit down work) work is defined as work that does not require standing more than two hours out of an eight hour work day and does not require lifting of more than ten pounds. Thus age has now become a much more important factor.
If you are in the 60-64 age group what the SSA calls Retirement Age, then the SSA really smiles on you. You may have to show only that you cannot do PRW. Social Security assumes you are too old to be retrained and new old to adapt to new work circumstances.
In summary, Social Security has made a decision to consider the applicant’s age as a major component of the application. So, if you are only 49, you may want to work another year before you apply. More importantly, if you are 54, you definitely need to work another year and obtain the favorable 55-59 criteria treatment. But even then you may have to retain a skilled Social Security Attorney to maximize your chances.
Jerry Lutkenhaus is a practitioner of Social Security Disability law in the Richmond, Virginia area for over 30 years. He was given an "AV" rating by Martindale Hubbell in 2003. Lexis Nexis listed him in the 2005 Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys. For more information, see http://www.geraldlutkenhaus.com and http://www.virginiadisabilitylawyer.com You can call Jerry Lutkenhaus now at 804-358-4766 for a free consultation about your disability case.
When applying for Social Security Disability, the most important criteria is often the age of the applicant.