A lot. A social security disability decision maker will use age as a starting point because a person’s age determines the applicable and relevant regulations. In general, the older a person is, the easier it is to be approved for disability benefits. An adult under the age of 50 needs to prove an inability to work full-time in any job because of a mental or physical impairment. However, a person between the ages of 50 and 54 actually can be capable of working full-time in a sedentary position and get disability benefits if that person cannot do the work they did over the last 15 years. A person between the ages of 55 and 59 can be capable of working full-time in a light or sedentary position and get disability benefits if that person cannot perform past relevant work. A person age 60 and above can be capable of full-time work activity at a medium exertional level and still be considered disabled if they cannot perform past relevant work. The terms “sedentary”, “light” and “medium” are specifically defined in the regulations as is the term “past relevant work.”
Additional considerations include mental impairments such as a cognitive decline that might affect a person’s ability to perform past work. Another factor considered is a person’s education or lack thereof. This analysis, also known as “the grid rules,” can make all the difference between a favorable decision and a denial. The grid rules can get complicated and an experienced social security disability attorney can help you evaluate how they impact you given the particularities of your claim.