What are Social Security Over 50 Grid Rules?

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Social Security over 50 Grid rules can help you win your disability case.

Social Security Disability Over 50 Grid Rules

Generally, Social Security defines disability as having the inability to work.  They look at your ability to go back to your past work.  They also look at your ability to do other types of work.  However, Social Security recognizes that it may be harder for older individuals to do new work.  Therefore, there are more favorable rules for older people.  These rules are the “grid rules.” 

The grid rules consider different factors.  These factors include:

  • Your age
  • Education
  • Work background
  • Residual functional capacity (RFC) – what you can do despite your medical conditions

The Grid Rules and Your Past Work

Social Security will look at the grid rules once they have figured out your RFC.  In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work.  The grid rules will only apply if Social Security finds that you can’t return to your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  Past relevant work is work done in the past 15 years.  It should also have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work. 

Social Security has different physical categories of work.  These include:

  • Sedentary – mostly sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

The Grid Rules Past Skilled Work

Social Security will also look at the type of skills required to do your past work.  Sometimes, there are skills from your past work that can be used to do different types of jobs.  These are transferable skills.  It is harder to apply a favorable grid rule when there are transferable skills.  However, transferable skills won’t apply if you can only do simple, routine tasks.  Generally, Social Security makes this finding when there is evidence of mental health impairment. 

Applying the Over 50 Grid Rules

Case study 1:  Social Security over 50 Grid rules

In one case, a 54 year old man applied for disability benefits after he had his knee replaced.  Unfortunately, he continued to have pain and swelling in his knee.  This made it impossible for him to go back to work.  He previously worked as a security guard.  Social Security determined that he had the ability to perform sedentary work.   Social Security found that there were no transferable skills.  Therefore, the grid rules directed a finding of disabled. 

Case study 2:  Social Security over 50 Grid rules

In another case, a 51 year old woman applied for disability based on coronary artery disease, depression and anxiety.  She previously worked as an office manager and cashier.  She suffered from frequent chest pain and leg swelling, also had trouble concentrating.  Social Security determined that she could perform sedentary work.  Her job as an office manager was categorized as sedentary.  Yet, Social Security also found she could only do simple and routine tasks.  Since her job required more complex tasks, she was not able to return to her past work.  Therefore, the grid rules allowed Social Security to approve her case. 

Hire a disability expert who knows the Social Security over 50 Grid Rules

Unfortunately, the grid rules don’t always work out in your favor.  This is especially true if you are applying for disability benefits for non-physical conditions.  Most commonly, these conditions include problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder alone. 

For example, a 53 year old man applied for disability benefits when he could no longer work due to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  He previously worked in a poultry factory.  Social Security found that he could only perform simple and routine tasks.  Without any physical restrictions, the Social Security over 50 Grid rules directed a finding of not disabled.  Consequently, he was denied benefits.

Working with a SSDI Disability Lawyer

Even if the Social Security over 50 Grid rules don’t work in your favor, you can still win your case.  In the above example, this gentleman can still win if he proves his conditions meet the medical listing requirements.  He can also be approved if he shows he would miss work a lot. 

Hire a Disability Expert

An experienced SSDI disability lawyer will help explain the Social Security over 50 Grid rules.  They can tell if you these grid rules apply in your case.  More importantly, disability lawyer can help you get the evidence you need to apply the grid rules and win your case. 

Disability Help Group:  Winning Grid Case Study

For instance, Jerry applied for benefits because he had knee pain and swelling.  He also had diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.  He was 52 years old and had worked in a warehouse for many years. 

Unfortunately, Social Security denied Jerry’s claim.  He couldn’t understand why.  His doctors told him to apply.  Finally, Mr. Doyle turned to Disability Help Group.  Our advocate suggested that he get a prescription for the cane he had been using.  She also noticed that his doctor didn’t write down that he needed to elevate his legs, even though the doctor told Jerry this several times.  On our advocate’s advice, he spoke with his doctor.  Then, the recommendation was included in his medical records.  At hearing, the judge found that Jerry couldn’t do his warehouse job.  The judge also found that he couldn’t stand or walk for more than two hours a day.  Therefore, Jerry was limited to sedentary work.  The Social Security over 50 Grid rules were applied and the judge approved his claim. 

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