Disabled adults can start receiving disability benefits at literally any age (even before full retirement age). However, for disabled adults over age 65, it is better to apply for SSDI benefits than retirement benefits.
According to a report, the average age at which American people retire is 62 (minimum retirement age). However, the poll also suggested that baby boomers (currently in their 55 to 57 age period) seek to retire till full retirement age (65 to 67). Many people at age 65 do not wish to retire early since it could cost them a reduction in retirement benefits. Unfortunately, they could become disabled/contract a condition or impairment that prevents them from working any further. You can read more on why collecting SSDI is better than applying for retirement benefits in this case.
**Note: You can't collect both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time.
Getting Social Security Disability after Age 65
The Social Security Administration requires a claimant to have been disabled for atleast 5 full months – with medical proof that their disability is going to last for another 12 months. However, payments for SSDI may start as soon as the sixth month of the onset of their disability.
For people aged over age 65, the Social Security has setup special distinctions to the rules to help for evaluation process.
- I. Meet or Equal a Listing: This requires that individuals over 65 need to meet the disability listing or impairments in the Blue Book of SSA. However, even if you do not meet the conditions in the Blue Book of SSA, these listings can be equaled if you have an impairment that is very similar to those listed in the Blue Book of SSA.
- II. Medical and Vocational Allowances: If you do not meet or match the disability listings, the social security examiner will examine your symptoms in accordance with other details such as age, location, education, limitations your condition is bringing on you and work history. This is used by the SSA to determine if you could take up skilled, semi-skilled or fully skilled work. The SSA examiner will work together with a vocational expert to determine if you're 'disabled' enough and unable to work under 'substantial gainful activity (SGA)'.
Special Age-Related Rules for Medical Vocational Allowances for People Aged over 65
The SSA has special age rules for people aged over 65 who don't meet a disability listing but are unable to work. The social security would look at how applicant's impairments could affect the workplace. These distinctions are used as standard rules by the SSA to grant disability to the most 'deserving (severely disabled)' claimants. Claimants falling in the first group of distinctions would automatically be deemed disabled if they fall into a special profile established by the social security. On the other hand, the disability examiner will study the effects of age on the determination of your ability to work that is less demanding than your jobs.
First Group: Special Profiles – a) If you are aged at least 55 years of age, have an 11th grade education or less (with no other considerable job training), and have not worked for atleast 15 years, you will automatically qualify for the SSDI.
b) If a claimant performed strenuous, unskilled physical labor for atleast 35 years and have an education of sixth grade or less, with no other physical training, you'll automatically qualify for SSDI.
Second Group: Grid Rules – The SSA uses grid rules based on a person's age bracket if you're able to carry out certain types of work, or qualify for medical vocational allowances based on your residual functional capacity (RFC). You can read more on RFC here.
Navigating around the process of disability is a complicated and tiresome process. It should not be left to non-professionals as minor mistakes in details such as RFC forms and income reports, meeting medical requirements, etc could cost you both lost time and money. Even if you do not meet the above requirements for SSDI over age 65, there are other ways you could prove the 'severity of your disability' to the SSA. We recommend you seek professional legal help from our disability attorneys to help with your SSDI application or appeal.