One of the safety nets that people have when faced with a disability is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). There are several factors that will play a role in determining not only whether or not someone receives benefits but also to what extent these benefits are provided. (Click for details.) One of these has to do with the relevant work guidelines, which can seriously impact the status of someone’s application.
Social Security Special Rules: What Kind of Work is Relevant?
One of the criteria that the Department of Social Security will use to determine benefits, regardless of age, is the Past Relevant Work Guidelines. When someone requests benefits, they will look at the jobs that they have held during the prior 15 years. Some people have disabilities that preclude them from performing the work that they might have done in the past. Examples of possible injuries that would prevent this include:
- A back injury in someone who has worked a construction job that prevents them from returning to work
- A hand injury to someone who is a surgeon that inhibits his or her ability to perform delicate surgical procedures
- Leg injuries in someone who works a job as a janitor that inhibits them from moving around the workplace effectively.
These are all examples of disabilities that might prevent someone from doing the work that they had been doing for most of their life.
On the other hand, based on Social Security rules, it could also found that they could perform work, even for less pay. They could deem these people to be not disabled. Because of this demarcation, someone’s application could be denied, leaving them wondering what they should do next. The guidelines for how Social Security determines whether or not someone is disabled change based on someone’s age.
Social Security: Special Rules and Medical Vocational Guidelines for Those Over 50
Those who are over 50 and applying for Social Security Disability should take note of the special rules called Medical Vocational Guidelines that apply to them. After 50, Social Security uses these rules to decide whether or not they believe someone has the ability to continue to work. These guidelines are in place because entry-level jobs can be difficult for people to obtain as they age. There are many reasons behind this, which include:
- The person may be over-qualified for the job and require more pay than the organization is willing to provide
- They may have trouble learning how to do the job due to a gap in generational knowledge
- They may be close to the age of retirement and the company does not desire to try and find a replacement within a close period of time
Because of this, the work that someone has performed in the past becomes relevant to any claim that the person is filing for Social Security benefits and these guidelines also change based on the person’s age.
These guidelines are best illustrated using some of the examples from above. First, the example of the construction worker with the back injury can be analyzed. This person has spent decades refining and honing their skills which are well-suited to construction work and other manual jobs; however, this back injury would prevent them from using these skills in any meaningful capacity, rendering them unable to perform their job to the best of their ability.
Anyone who is over the age of 50 and feels that they do not have the skills to perform the jobs which they have performed in the past should reach out to Match and Farnsworth for more information. These guidelines can be challenging to understand and it is a good idea to speak with an experienced legal adviser to make sure that not only the individual but also the family understands all of the options that are available to them. It could make a significant difference in the benefits that are received.