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How should I apply for benefits at age 60+?

Some Americans are unsure of whether or not they can still qualify for disability benefits as they reach old age. However, older Americans actually see some benefits that other applicants don’t experience when they apply for disability.

Continue below to learn how the “grid rules” of disability qualification apply to you, and how you can get started with your application.

Understanding the Disability “Grid Rules”

Disability applications are looked over by evaluators using a series of steps. Those who don’t qualify in one step pass onto the next. The first step of the process involves comparing your diagnosis to the Social Security Blue Book, which details how many severe disorders can qualify for benefits.

If you don’t qualify in this step, you move onto what are known as the “grid rules.”

Grid rules are a series of evaluations that help the SSA determine disability regardless of your diagnosis. This is especially helpful for those who are older and face a variety of difficult symptoms that their disorder may not express. Grid rules are broken up into four categories:

  • Residual functional capacity (RFC) (how well you can perform strength-related tasks, such as lifting, pushing, or standing for long periods)
  • Education (from illiterate, to high school, to specialized training)
  • Previous work experience (how skilled you are considered to be based on their previous work)
  • Transferability of skills (how likely you could find a job similar to your previous work using the skills you’ve acquired)

Those who lack the education, skills, or physical ability to work anymore are considered “totally and permanently disabled”, regardless of their disorder. The requirements to qualify with this grid decrease as you age, meaning those above 60 have a higher chance of qualifying for benefits here.

Applying for Benefits at 60+

It is important to note that disability benefits can no longer be awarded after you turn 67. This is because 67-year-olds transfer to retirement benefits, which are awarded similarly to disability benefits, just without the medical requirements.

Beginning the Application

Applications are available online or in person whenever you are ready to begin. Be sure to speak with your physician, therapist, and other medical professionals to ensure you have all necessary medical history, medications lists, hospitalization history, and testimonies on-hand for the application.

If you have trouble completing the application or are confused by what you see, you can call your local disability office for assistance. Either over-the-phone or in person, you can receive help from a representative who can enter your information for you or answer whatever questions you may have.

Considering a Disability Attorney

While it may seem intimidating, disability attorneys are a great resource to try when applying for disability benefits. Their legal experience makes them a great help when compiling paperwork, staying in contact with the SSA, or even potentially expediting your application.

If money is a worry, it is helpful to know that disability attorneys are regulated by the government and can only take payment after you win your case. For the best chance at getting benefits, consider a free consultation with a disability attorney near you.