The Social Security Administration looks at a number of different factors to determine whether or not a claimant is disabled. By far, the most important is the claimant's residual functional capacity to perform work. However, the Administration will also look at his or her education, language skills, work experience, and age to conclude whether or not to award benefits.
In regards a person's chronological age, this determines whether he or she will be placed into one of three main categories and possibly one of two subcategories:
A younger individual is below the age of 50.
An individual closely approaching advanced age is 50 to 54.
An advanced individual is age 55 or over.
The two subcategories are for younger individuals aged 45-49 and those who are over the age of 60 who are closely approaching retirement age.
Why is age so important when determining whether or not someone qualifies for Social Security disability?
Under the Medical Vocational guidelines promulgated by the Administration, a person that is capable of doing a certain level of work may be found not disabled at a younger age, but may be found disabled at the same level of work but at an older age category.
The reasoning for this determination made by the Administration is because the senses, joints, eye-hand coordination, reflexes, and thinking processes, diminish with age. Simply put, the older we get the harder it is for us to adapt to new technology and learning requirements for jobs out in the economy. The longer you work the more your mind and body wear out and the harder it is for you to adapt to the ever increasing demands the economy requires.
In essence, it is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks and the Social Security Administration knows this. Therefore, for example, a person that is 60 years old with a high school education and ability to perform sedentary work but lacks the skills necessary to enter into the marketplace will be found disabled; but, a 43 year-old individual with the exact same education and work capacity will be found not disabled.