For those in New Jersey who are injured or ill and are seeking Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, understanding the five-step sequential evaluation process is critical. The individual aspects of this process will be used when Disability Determination Services and the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides whether the person should be approved for SSD benefits or not. A key aspect of the decision-making process is the vocational factor. While other areas of the case will often come to the forefront, the applicant’s age is imperative too. Knowing how this will factor into the decision and what can be done if there is a denial requires legal help.
The applicant’s chronological age will be considered when his or her ability to work is assessed. This, along with the residual functional capacity, work history and education will be important. The age will not be the sole determinative factor when it is decided if the person can adjust to other kinds of work. If, however, the person is advancing in years and it limits their ability to adjust to other kinds of work, it will be a crucial part of the process. With those who are not working but can do other kinds of work, the SSA will not give a finding of disabled.
A “younger person” is classified as a person under 50. In that age range, the person will generally not be considered as affected when adjusting to other types of work than what he or she did in the past. Some situations will result in the SSA considering a person 45 to 49 limited in adjusting to different kinds of work. For those approaching advanced age of 50 to 54, the age, the impairments and the work experience can negatively affect the ability to adjust to other kinds of work. Those who are classified as being at an advanced age are 55 and older will be significantly affected in their ability to adjust other kinds of work. There are separate rules for people 60 and above who are close to retirement age.
Applying for SSD benefits can be worrisome and confusing. Understanding how the SSA goes about making its decisions can be beneficial to the process. Age in the context of vocational factors is foundational part of the claim and should be fully grasped from the start.