Disability Benefits for Those Under 50
Generally speaking, the application process for Social Security disability benefits strongly favors older adults. While it is still possible to receive an approval of a disability claim for individuals under the age of 50, anyone young enough to retrain for a less physically demanding career will have a harder time convincing disability examiners they are unable to support themselves by performing other work. That being said, there are criteria that dictate how an adult under 50 can be approved for benefits.
Blue Book Disability Evaluation
The SSA Blue Book outlines the medical conditions that must be met in order to automatically qualify for disability benefits. For adults under 50, this is broken down into 14 different categories — from musculoskeletal conditions to mental and neurological disorders. Each of these categories lists specific requirements for a number of related conditions. For example, applicants applying under the chronic heart failure listing can qualify by presenting medical evidence that they have an ejection fraction of less than 30% during a period of stability.
Unfortunately, not everyone with a disability will have medical records that exactly meet one of these very specific medical criteria. In fact many totally debilitating conditions, such as chronic pain disorder, are not listed in the Blue Book at all. In these cases, it may be necessary to complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to determine what a person’s work-related limitations are and what their remaining ability to work is. This is a process which often makes it difficult for people under 50 to qualify for disability benefits.
What Is an RFC?
For applicants whose condition doesn’t meet a Blue Book Listing an RFC assessment will be made to determine their ability to perform certain types of work duties. This is done by looking at their ability to do basic tasks — such as walking, sitting for an extended period of time, and gripping or lifting objects. The ability to perform basic mental work tasks is also considered – such as following simple, one-step instructions, adhering to a basic work routine and schedule, and working around the public, coworkers, and supervisors.
Next, a person’s RFC is compared with their education and work history. Even if it is determined that the person cannot perform any of their past work, a determination about their ability to perform other, less physically and mentally demanding work must still be made. If it is determined that the person can realistically retrain to another position without jeopardizing their health benefits will likely be denied.
A skilled disability lawyer may be able to help you contest the conclusions of an RFC assessment that you disagree with. It is possible that an RFC assessment may not tell the whole picture of how your condition affects your life, so an attorney can help you collect medical evidence to support your case — and may be able to get a denial in your case overturned.
Beginning Your Application
While it isn’t easy to successfully obtain disability benefits under 50, the best way to present a strong case is to collect ample medical evidence documenting your condition. Disability law is complex and anyone under the age of 50 applying for Social Security benefits should speak to a lawyer before filing their application.
With the primary office just outside of Media, PA, Lisa M. Ritacco is available to help. Her team can provide assistance in filing your initial claim or appealing a previous decision. Contact our office to book your free consultation today.