Special rules for workers above 50 years consider things like age, education level, work experience, transferable skills, and a variety of other relevant factors when determining whether a worker is eligible for disability benefits. Consequently, workers over 50 can often collect disability benefits even if they are still capable of performing some tasks.

Understanding Special Rules (Grid Rules)

The special rules apply to workers above 50 years and are often known as ‘grid rules’ because they are displayed on tables that resemble grids. These rules consider the reality that older workers may have a hard time adjusting to new lines of work. What’s more, the grid rules take into consideration other factors like the residual functional capacity (RFC) of workers. RFC refers to a worker’s maximum level of performance despite his or her disability.

RFC is determined by reviewing the medical records of an individual worker. It takes into account the worker’s ability to walk, stand, push, and lift. The less the ability, the higher the odds a worker will qualify for disability benefits after 50. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has grouped RFC into four main categories, including:

  • Sedentary – a worker is unable to lift ten pounds and above.
  • Light – a worker can lift ten pounds infrequently and lifts up to 20 pounds occasionally.
  • Medium – a worker can lift up to 25 pounds frequently and up to 50 pounds occasionally.
  • Heavy – a worker can lift over 50 pounds.

The grid system divides workers into four age groups, including 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, and above 60. The chances of qualifying for disability benefits increase with the age of a worker and his or her position on the grid. In other words, the grid system is designed to offer older workers an advantage when it comes to meeting the requirements for disability benefits. With some exceptions, older workers will generally qualify for disability benefits despite their ability to engage in sedentary or light work.

Applying for Disability Benefits

Applicants over 50 can apply for disability benefits either on SSA’s website or by visiting their local social security office in person. They should obtain all the relevant documents, including medical and financial documentation, in advance to make the process as smooth as possible. Social security disability lawyers can advise older applicants on all the information and documents required and guide them through the entire application process.