What are Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules?

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Social Security over 55 Grid rules are special disability rules that can help you win your case. 

Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

It is much easier for Social Security to approve your application for disability benefits if you are over age 55.  Typically, for disability benefits, you have to show that you can’t work.  If you under age 50, you have to show that you can’t do any kind of work at all.  As you get older, there are more favorable rules Social Security can use to approve your case.  That’s because Social Security understands that it may be harder for older people to do new types of work.  These rules are the “grid rules.” 

The grid rules consider different factors.  These factors include:

  • Age
  • How far you went in school
  • 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 to the grid rules once they have figured out your residual functional capacity (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

Over 55 Grid Rule 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.  Social Security calls them 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 treatment for mental health problem. 

Applying Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

Case study 1:  Over 55 Grid Rules

For example, a 58 year old man applied for disability because he had coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes and COPD.  He previously worked as a warehouse worker and line technician for the local cable company.  Social Security categorized his past work as medium and heavy.  They found that he could only do light work.  Additionally, Social Security found that here were no transferable skills. Therefore, the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules directed a finding that he was disabled. 

Case study 2:  Over 55 Grid Rules

In another example, a 57 year old woman applied for disability benefits due to degenerative joint disease in her right shoulder and right knee.  She also suffered from vertigo and major depressive disorder.  She previously worked as an accounts receivable clerk.  Social Security found that she could do simple, routine and light jobs.  Her past work is a sedentary job.  However, it requires more complex tasks.  Therefore, Social Security found that she could not return to her past job.  As a result, her case was approved under the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules. 

Case study 3:  Over 55 Grid rules

Lastly, a 59 year old man filed for disability benefits because he had degenerative disc disease in his back, osteoarthritis in his hips and depression.  He needed a cane to stand and walk.  He previously worked as a truck driver and a waiter.  Social Security found that he could do simple, routine sedentary jobs.  Since his past work was categorized as light and medium, the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules applied.  Social Security was able to approve his claim. 

Working with a SSDI Disability Lawyer

An experienced SSDI disability lawyer will tell if you these grid rules apply in your case.  More importantly, a disability lawyer can help you get the evidence you need to apply the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules and win your case. 

Disability Help Group:  Winning Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

For instance, Michael applied for benefits because he had back pain.  He was 59 years old and had worked in as a janitor for many years.  Unfortunately, Michael was denied for benefits.  He had not seen his doctors in a while.  However, his doctors had told him that he could not work as a janitor any more.  Michael then turned to Disability Help Group.  We helped him file an appeal.  Our advocate suggested that he see a specialist for his back.  Michael started seeing an orthopedist and pain management doctor.  We also advised him to have an MRI of his back.  At his hearing, the judge found that he could not do his past job as a janitor.  The judge found that Michael could not lift or carry 50 pounds.  As a result, Michael was limited to light work.  The judge approved his case based on the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules.  

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