Social Security Disability Rules After Age 50

Published on: December 14, 2022

Individuals who are disabled and unable to work as a result of their disabling condition may apply for and receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Those who are approved for disability benefits usually find them tremendously helpful in relieving the financial burden that can often come with being disabled – particularly as time goes on and a disabled individual grows older. 


If you are disabled, is important to ensure that you can keep receiving your benefits for as long as you need them. Among other things, this will mean participating in what the Social Security Administration refers to as a “Continuing Disability Review” or CDR for short. CDR is the process the Social Security Administration uses to ensure that individuals continue to meet the conditions that qualify for disability benefits. If Social Security determines that an individual no longer has a disabling condition, disability benefits will be discontinued.


The law requires the Social Security Administration to perform a CDR at least once every three years, at least initially. During a CDR, the Social Security Administration will review not only evidence about an individual’s medical condition, but also information about their income, living conditions, and other relevant factors that qualify them for disability benefits.


After conducting the initial CDR, the Social Security Administration will typically make a determination as to whether the disabling condition is likely to improve or one that is more permanent in nature. The SSA usually assigns each newly approved disability claim to one of three Medical Improvement (MI) categories:


  • Medical Improvement Expected (MIE): These are disabling conditions that often end up responding well to treatment or resolve fairly quickly on their own. Cases assigned to this category are scheduled for CDR not less than six months but not longer than 18 months.
  • Medical Improvement Possible (MIP): This category includes disabilities that are severe, but not necessarily permanent. Improvement is possible, although not always as likely as it is in the former category. Reviews of cases in this category are usually conducted every three years or so.
  • Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE): Typically, cases are placed in this category when based on reasonable medical opinion and evidence, the individual’s condition is likely to either remain the same or become more disabling over time. As a result, reviews in these cases are scheduled to be conducted between 5 and 7 years.

In addition to looking at the condition itself, the Social Security Administration will also consider the individual’s age as a part of the review process.


How Does My Age Affect My Disability Review?


Age brings on a number of changes – and the disability benefit review process typically takes those changes into consideration. Ultimately, as the aging process continues, an individual is less likely to be able to return to work, regardless of their disabling condition. In fact, according to the SSA, age 55 is considered to be an “advanced age”. As a result, the Social Security Administration will consider the abilities of older individuals only in the context of jobs they have previously performed. Additionally, at age 55 and beyond, the SSA typically only conducts reviews every 5 to 7 years, regardless of the condition’s particular categorization.


When many people reach the age of 50, they also begin considering the possibility of early retirement. If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may want to think twice before doing so. Generally, Social Security doesn’t favor early retirement. Those who apply for early retirement will typically receive 30% less than they would have received had they waited until full retirement age. Social Security disability benefits, however, are usually equal to what an individual would have received had they reached full retirement age. Therefore, after age 50, it is typically best to wait until you actually reach full retirement age before applying for those benefits.


Call Disability Experts Today

Like many legal matters, the process of applying for disability benefits can be complex and often confusing to those unfamiliar with the system. Whether you have questions about CDR or any other aspect of the process of applying for and receiving benefits, you need and deserve answers from a legal team you can trust. At Disability Experts, we’re here to help. Attempting to navigate the system alone could not only be stressful - it might cause you to miss out on benefits and forfeit rights you might otherwise be entitled to assert. Don't make that mistake.


Instead of trying to work through the process alone, call us. Our talented and experienced disability lawyers know the best legal strategies to pursue on your behalf as you seek the benefits you need and deserve. If you’re ready to get started, there’s no time like today. Give us a call. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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