Clients Older than 50 Meet Different Standards

Those applying for Social Security Disability benefits who are older than 50 meet a different standard than those who are younger.

Generally younger applicants have to show their condition makes them unable to perform any job, whether it’s like their old one or not. Older applicants, however, have less stringent requirements.

“Larry” who was age 59 at the time of his hearing, has received a fully favorable decision for Supplemental Security Income application from the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The ODAR judge found him disabled because of a combination of factors, including heart disease, high blood pressure, nervousness, high cholesterol, and depression, all of which together were so severe that Larry is “unable to perform any work existing in significant numbers in the national economy.”

Larry has a 10th-grade education. He had worked as a janitor. Before that, he was a horse trainer, and before that, was involved in factory work.

In a pre-hearing memo, Attorney Neil Good outlined Larry Doe’s eligibility for benefits. This client suffers from disorders of the spine that leave him unable to lift anything and causes pain and weakness. He also has coronary artery disease that has necessitated angioplasty and insertion of stents, plus hypertension and high cholesterol. He also suffers from depression and mood swings, and has a hard time getting along with people. Medications include Toprol, Zocor, and aspirin.

Attorney Neil Good wrote in the pre-hearing memo that Larry’s residual functional capacity precludes the performance of any kind of work-related activity on a sustained, full-time or part-time basis. “The claimant can no longer perform his past relevant work,” Attorney Good said.

The judge agreed less than a week after the hearing, making Larry eligible for benefits.

Those over 50, like Larry, face less restrictive standards in obtaining benefits. That may seem more manageable to those trying to navigate the system alone, but as is seen by this case, the process — especially if an appeal or hearing is involved — is complex and frequently involves evidence from medical providers. While chances of obtaining benefits may be higher, the process is still a daunting one.