How Your Age Affects Your Social Security Disability Claim
My Murfreesboro and other Tennessee Social Security disability clients are often confused by all the rules and guidelines that apply to the Social Security Administration’s determination of disability. The Social Security Administration uses its “five-step sequential evaluation process” and considers a lot of different issues, and it can be hard for someone who doesn’t work in this area to keep track of everything.
Frequently, the most important issue is your “residual functional capacity,” which means what you can still do despite your impairment. And second in importance to that is your age, because the Social Security regulations provide that the determination of whether you are disabled is made by looking at your chronological age in combination with your residual functional capacity, education, and work experience.
The Social Security Administration Age Categories
The Social Security Administration looks at age in five categories: under 45, from 45 to 49, from 50 to 54, from 55 to 59, and from 60 to 64.
This means that if you are 50 then you are treated the same as someone who is 54. However, there are obviously borderline cases where people are close to a birthday that would change their category, and the regulations provide that the age categories will not be applied mechanically in those borderline cases. Therefore, if you are within a few months of a birthday that would put you into a disabled category under the Social Security guidelines then you are supposed to get the benefit of the doubt.
Stretching the Limits of an Age Category
The Social Security Administration Appeals Council has said that it takes a “sliding scale” approach to age when someone has work impairments that would be evaluated differently under the Social Security regulations at a higher age. Thus, in the borderline situation where the onset date of a limitation is a few months prior to an age that would show a finding of disabled, then the age category may be stretched.
There is no absolute limit about how far an age category may be stretched. Generally, a few days or a few months may be allowed, but the amount is really a judgment call for the Administrative Law Judge. However, any “stretching” must be supported by evidence, and a borderline situation that was as much as a year to the next category would be difficult to justify.
Get Help from a Murfreesboro Tennessee Disability Lawyer
The rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration can be difficult enough to follow if you are not familiar with them, and the issues get even more confusing when there are things like the age categories where the rule can be stretched. It is important to have a knowledgeable Murfreesboro disability attorney on your side to help develop the best possible case for your Social Security disability claim.
If you are not already represented by a Murfreesboro Social Security disability attorney and want our evaluation of your case, give us a brief description of your claim using the form to the right. Or you may e-mail or call our office.
Parker, Toy & Associates, PLLC
Murfreesboro Tennessee Social Security disability lawyers
745 South Church Street, Suite 240
Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37130