Social Security Disability rules regarding age are contained in the Medical Vocational Guidelines, which are rules used by the Social Security Administration to determine whether an applicant can adapt to a new job. Social Security Disability Lawyers commonly referred to these rules as: "the Grids".
Once a person turns 60, the Grids play a pivotal role in the Social Security Disability Process. In many instances, the Grids specifically establish that certain applicants qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits as a matter of law. For example, if your condition limits you to sedentary work but have not had a “sit down” job in the past 15 years and you are 60 or older, you have very good chance of winning benefits.
Age makes a huge difference in determining disability. Based on the Grids, a person that can only do simple sedentary work at 48, will loose, but would have a much better chance of obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits at age 60.
Social Security Rules call claimants between 60 to 65: “Claimants Closely Approaching Retirement Age”. In determining whether a person is disabled, Social Security must determine whether the claimant who is unable to perform the work that he or she has performed in the past, has skills than can be transferred to another occupation. SSR 82-41 sets forth a very strict transferability standard in situations where a Claimant is Closely Approaching Retirement Age (60 to 65 years old). SSR 82-41 states:
[T]here must be very little, if any, vocational adjustment required in terms of tools, work process, work settings, or the industry.
[J]ob duties of their past work must be so closely related to other jobs which they can perform that they could be expected to perform these other identified jobs at a high degree of proficiency with minimal amount of job orientation.
Therefore, a claimant who is over 60 is likely to be found disabled if he or she needs to take special training or has to make special job adjustments in order to find a new job.