If you are 55 years old or older and can no longer perform your past job, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security’s regulations contain medical-vocational guidelines(also know as “the Grids”) that consider a person’s age, education and work experience along with his or her medical conditions when determining disability. These rules recognize that it is more difficult to find work as a person gets older (even above age 50) and is limited by the physical demands of work activity because of a medical condition.
Social Security will initially evaluate your case and determine whether your medical impairments meet their definition for disability outright by referring to specific medical criteria known as the Listings. However, if your condition (or combination of impairments) does not meet or equal Social Security’s initial requirements, it will be evaluated under the Grids by determining what level of physical activity you are still able to perform along with your age, education level and any acquired work skills. In many situations, someone who is age 55 and limited to sedentary or light work will be considered “disabled” by Social Security’s guidelines.