Decisions in Social Security Disability cases are highly driven by your age, particularly when you reach the age of 50 or 55. Many decisions hinge entirely on your age, and you’re awarded only as of when you reach the appropriate date of birth corresponding with the favorable age category.
Sometimes, age categories are applied in a somewhat loose fashion. For example, you may be considered to be 55 years old, six months before you actually have your 55th birthday. The practice of bending the age categories in a way that favors claimants had become quite widespread. It seemed like rough justice, since the Social Security Administration doesn’t pay disability insurance benefits until over six months after many claimants have become disabled, for reasons that few people understand.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently taken steps to educate judges on how to approach this situation, in accordance with HALLEX II–5–3–2, which has been in existence for over 20 years. That rule states that judges should use the claimant’s exact chronological age, even when the difference is only a few days, unless there are additional vocational adversities.
These would include such factors as whether the claimant is barely literate in English, has only a marginal ability to communicate in English, or has a work history in an unskilled job in one isolated industry or setting (such as fishing or forestry).
n other words, the SSA is cracking down on the loose application of age categories, and insisting that the age categories be applied more mechanically. This is bad news for claimants.
No matter your age, if you need help applying for disability or appealing a denial, contact our attorneys for help.