Social Security Disability Eligibility for People Closely Approaching Retirement Age

Couple in Their Mid 60'sYou are only a few years, or maybe months, away from Social Security retirement benefits. If you are 60 or older, then the Social Security Administration considers you to be “closely approaching retirement age.” You may welcome this label, or not. Either way, the classification is relevant for Social Security disability purposes.

In some ways, your age doesn’t matter. You may not feel any different than you did at age 30, 40, or 50. Additionally, you remain eligible for Social Security disability if you are permanently and totally disabled and you meet the requirements of one of the listings in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments.

However, your age allows you to be treated differently from younger workers regarding Social Security disability eligibility through medication-vocational grids.

Medical-Vocational Grids for People Age 60 to Retirement Age

Medical-vocational grids allow the Social Security Administration to consider your age, education, past work experience, and the type of work that you can do to determine your disability status. These grids are used to figure out your residual functional capacity or whether or not you are disabled.

Sedentary Work and Light Work

Generally, if you have a limited education and lack the skills to do sedentary work or light work, then the Social Security Administration will find you disabled. Your age plays a critical role in this determination. Social Security disability law recognizes that your age may make it more challenging to learn new skills or to transfer to a new type of workplace than it would be for younger workers. However, if you have the skills and ability to do sedentary work or light work, you will be found non-disabled.

Medium Work

Deciding whether you are disabled when it comes to medium work responsibilities is more complicated. The Social Security medical-vocational grids recognize nine possible combinations of education and previous work experience.

You should be found disabled for medium work if you are closely approaching retirement age and:

  • You have a marginal education or you are illiterate and you are unskilled
  • You have a limited education (or less) and you have no medium work skills

Otherwise, you will be found non-disabled if:

  • You have a limited education and are unskilled
  • You have a limited education (or less) and you are skilled or semi-skilled with non-transferable skills
  • You have a limited education (or less) and you are skilled or semi-skilled with transferable skills
  • You are at least a high school graduate, even if you are unskilled
  • You are at least a high school graduate, but your education does not provide for direct entry into skilled work; however, you are skilled or semi-skilled with non-transferable skills
  • You are at least a high school graduate, but your education does not provide for direct entry into skilled work; however, you are skilled or semi-skilled with transferable skills
  • You are at least a high school graduate and your education does provide for direct entry into skilled work, even if you are currently unskilled or semi-skilled with non-transferable skills

Heavy and Very Heavy Work

If you can still do heavy or very heavy work, then you will likely be found non-disabled. However, you should talk with a Social Security disability lawyer about your possible eligibility.

Disability Benefits May Help You Until You are Eligible for Retirement Benefits

If you are between the ages of 60 and 62, you are not yet eligible for retirement benefits and Social Security disability may be your only option. Between the ages of 62 and 66, you may choose whether to take early retirement benefits or disability benefits, if you qualify. It may be easier to get retirement benefits during these years, but if you choose early retirement benefits, then your overall retirement benefits may decrease. Once you are eligible for full retirement benefits at age 66, then you are no longer eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

You are at a critical stage of life and you have important financial decisions to make about Social Security benefits. Our New England Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you. Please call us or contact us through this website today for a free claim evaluation and to learn more about your Social Security options.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer