Social Security disability claimants age 55 and older
Many people who apply for Social Security disability are age 55 or older. They have worked hard for their entire adult lives, but now, due to a medical condition, they can no longer do their jobs. Despite paying into the Social Security system for 30 years or more, these workers are often denied benefits when they apply for disability.
Most applicants for Social Security disability benefits in New Hampshire will need to show that (1) they can no longer do their past work and (2) they cannot do other work. The Social Security Administration has special rules for determining whether claimants age 55 and over can do other work.
If you can no longer do the work you used to do, Social Security must consider your age in determining whether you can do other work. Social Security uses rules known as the Medical-Vocational Guidelines to make this determination. The Guidelines recognize that the older you are and the more your medical condition limits how much exertion you are capable of, the harder it will be for you to adjust to a new job.
If you are 55 or older and are limited to unskilled light work, the Guidelines require Social Security to presume that you are unable to adapt to other work due to your age. An experienced Social Security attorney can use these presumptions to help win your disability case in New Hampshire.
Past relevant work
Before you get the benefit of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, you must establish that you cannot do your “past relevant work.”
Your past relevant work consists all of the jobs that you have held during the past 15 years for long enough to learn how to do them. Your Social Security disability claim will be denied if you still retain the residual functional capacity to perform any of these jobs. If Social Security determines that you can perform your past relevant work, your claim will never get to the step where you can benefit from the favorable presumptions due to your age.
It is particularly important for disability claimants 55 and older to have the assistance of a capable Social Security attorney. Proving that a claimant cannot perform past relevant work is one important way that a disability attorney helps claimants throughout New Hampshire who are over 55 obtain their disability benefits.
When I assist a disability claimant age 55 or over, I ensure that I have a winning theory of the case before filing. Then, I help the client thoroughly complete the work history report, being sure to fully describe the requirements of past work. I analyze the past work for transferable skills, which can sink a disability claim. Then, I describe the claimant’s functional limitations, and ensure that all sources of medical treatment are listed, so that Social Security gets a complete medical record. Lastly, I ask the client which of his or her doctors are most supportive, so that I can get a doctor’s opinion in support of the claim.
Early retirement benefits vs. disability benefits
Many people who become disabled near the age of 62 decide to file for early retirement benefits rather than disability benefits. However, disability benefits are preferable to early retirement benefits. Disability benefits are paid at the higher “full retirement age” amount, rather than the “early retirement” amount. For those retiring by the year 2016, early retirement benefits are 25% less than full retirement age benefits.
Fortunately, you have the option of pursuing Social Security early retirement benefits and disability benefits at the same time. Social Security allows you to take the early retirement benefit while the disability claim is pending. You can then undo that choice if the disability claim is granted.
Get help with your claim for New Hampshire Social Security disability benefits
I prefer to get involved early with a disability claim of an applicant over age 55. Ideally, you should consult me before filing the claim. In many cases, my help with the initial application results in a fully favorable decision, without the need for a hearing.
Your initial consultation is always free, and there are no legal fees unless you receive disability benefits. If you are wondering if your medical condition is severe enough to receive disability benefits, and you live in Maine or New Hampshire, please ask for a free case evaluation.
You can provide a brief description of your claim using the form to the right, and I will respond promptly. Or you may reach me at:
Law Office of Gordon Gates
Social Security disability lawyer
Toll-Free: (888) 200-4484
New Hampshire: (603) 821-0249
Maine: (207) 284-9999
Fax: (888) 774-0270
New Hampshire office (by appointment)
83 Hanover Street
Manchester, NH 03101
Please send all mail to:
110 Main Street
Saco, Maine 04072