- DISABILITY CLAIM FAQ
When seeking Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) applies different rules depending upon the age of the claimant. The SSA Rulings state that, “The chronological ages, 45, 50, 55, and 60 may be critical to a decision.” The SSA’s regulations, HALLEX and POMS provide that the SSA “will not apply the age categories mechanically in a borderline age situation.” A “borderline situation” exists where the claimant is within a few days to a few months of reaching an older age category.
I represent a nurse with gastroenterologic impairments, whose SSD application was approved today. The claimant was 49 years and 10 months old on the onset date of her disability. In approving the application, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) concluded that “Applying the age categories non-mechanically, and considering the additional vocational adversities in this case, the claimant was an individual closely approaching advanced age on the established disability onset date.”
A person who is under 50 falls into the category of a “younger individual.” A person who is 50 to 54 falls into the category of an individual “closely approaching advanced age.” As a 49 year old, the SSA rules for the nurse indicated that she should have been found not disabled, while as a 50 year old, the converse is true. However, the ALJ decided to treat the nurse’s application as a borderline situation, and applied the age categories non-mechanically, to find the nurse disabled as of her onset date. The result is that the claimant will receive two additional months of SSD benefits, which equals several thousand dollars.
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