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OVER 50? The “GRID” Rules Help Older Workers Win Disability Benefits


Older workers have a better chance of winning benefits because of the way Social Security law works. The SSA knows that it is difficult for older workers to change jobs and to be hired. Employers don’t always want to hire older workers.

They usually have to pay an older worker more money, because they have more work experience and skills. Additionally, they may not want to hire an older worker because they have fewer years left to work. An employer might train a 60 year old person, only to have them retire a few years later.

Finally, there is the bias that older workers face. Many employers think that older workers are set in their ways and cannot adapt to new technology.  Perhaps they believe that older people can’t learn quickly or that they are out of touch with work culture. Whatever the reason for the bias, nearly 80% of older employees say they experience age discrimination at work, according to the most recent survey by AARP.


Whether you are a young or older worker, there is a good chance that you have never heard of the Medical Vocational Guidelines or the “GRID” Rules. These special rules are an important part of SSA’s laws that may help you win your Social Security Disability claim.

If you are over 50 years old, the GRID rules apply to you.  Once a person is 50 years old, if they cannot perform their past work, but can perform sedentary, unskilled work, they win their claim. Yes, you read that correctly. Even if the 50 year old can work at certain jobs, they still win benefits. But why?

The reason the GRID Rules allow for a payment of SSDI and SSI benefits, even if a person can work, is that the older a person will usually not be hired. The GRID Rules acknowledge the reality that older workers are less likely to be able to compete in the job market.

Older workers Full length profile shot of a group of people walking, from a baby crawling to a senior, isolated on white background


For example, let’s look at a 55 year old person with back problems. If they have a high school education, no skills, and they can no longer lift more than 20 pounds because of back problems, then the GRID Rules say that they  cannot work. If they can’t lift more than 20 pounds, then they are limited to light work. The past work is unskilled, so they don’t have skills that transfer to other work.

At 55 years old, the SSA does not expect you to go back to school or learn new skills. Because the person in our example has physical limits and no skills, they are not able to compete in the job market. Due to their lack of skills and older age, they probably won’t be able to get a job. Therefore, the GRID Rules apply to them.

Older workers are especially less likely to be hired at entry level, seated jobs. Those jobs go to younger workers. SSA rules favor the older worker. Your SSD attorney should know about these rules. Ask your attorney if they apply to you. Meanwhile, if you have questions about your SSDI and SSI benefits, contact our SSD law firm. We can help you win the SSD benefits you deserve.


The GRID Rules rely on your residual functional capacity (RFC). If you can show that your physical and mental limits prevent you from doing full time work at any job, then you can win benefits, even if you are not an older worker. Your RFC is what you are physically capable of doing in an eight hour workday. Another way to think of it is having your doctor outline your physical and mental symptoms. The outline needs to be specific.

For example, it is helpful to your case if your doctor writes in your medical record that due to your back condition, you are not able to lift more than 10 pounds. Also, your doctor could write that you cannot stand for more than 2 hours in an 8 hour day.

These two issues will prevent you from doing many types of work. You would not be able, for example, to perform medium or light work. Both of which require the ability to lift more than 20 pounds and stand for up to 6 hours in an 8 hour workday. For instance, you couldn’t be a cashier or work at a warehouse, because you couldn’t physically perform the duties of that work.

If you do not have this kind of evidence, then you should request an SSA doctor exam. The SSA can send you to see a physical and mental doctor at no cost to you. These doctors can examine you and they will write a report to the SSA about your RFC.


Of course, it is not the best practice to rely on SSA’s doctors to find that you deserve benefits. Your own doctor is your best source of evidence. Many older workers have been going to the same doctor decades. This is a fact that can be in your favor. If you doctor knows you well and has seen your medical conditions get worse, then they will be more likely to write a letter on your behalf. Additionally, they may be more willing to fill out forms that prove you cannot work.

If you don’t have a doctor, you need to get one. Even if you think the doctor is too expensive. We can help you because our website has free and low cost medical lists in Utah and other states. No one can win your case if you do not have medical evidence. Therefore, use this website to call the free and low cost doctors and get treatment.

For example, we have a list for free and low cost mental health services for Nevada. Our law firm also lists free health services in Colorado and free health resources in California. As such, there is really no excuse for one of our clients to not be seeing a doctor for their illness. Additionally, many clients have the option of Medicaid benefits and this will also pay for visits to the doctor.

Additionally, we have a list of free mental health resources in Idaho and free physical health services in Idaho. We also have information about how to obtain your medical records for free. If you have medical insurance, use it. Visit your doctor. Then, get treatment and follow it. Ask you doctor to support you in your claim for benefits.


If you don’t have medical evidence, then the SSA will often send older workers to one of their doctors for a free exam. You need to go to the exam.

If you don’t go, then the SSA will automatically deny your case. You don’t want that to happen. Use the exam to tell the doctor what physical and mental conditions are making it impossible for you to work. For example, if you have liver cancer or breast cancer, or any other disease, bring your medical records to the exam so the doctor can review them. Don’t rely on the SSA to send your records.

If you cannot attend the exam, you must immediately call the SSA and inform them that you have a conflict. Usually, they will give you a new appointment time. Whatever you do, do not miss the exam. They will not give you a new exam date if you miss your exam without explanation.

If the SSA schedules a mental exam, then you visit the psychologist. The psychologist will interview you to see if you suffer from Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, or another mental condition. Find out more about Depression and winning SSD benefitsAnxiety Disorder can also qualify you for benefits. Likewise, you can learn more information about PTSD.

You should see the exam as an opportunity to explain your mental problems and how they affect you on a daily basis. For example, if you have anxiety, then you could discuss how you can’t sleep at night and have panic attacks. Or, how you can no longer concentrate on the job. You should make sure to describe all of your mental issues with the psychologist. Learn more here about how to prepare for your psychological exam.


If you are an older worker, then please know you do not need to go through the Social Security process alone. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back.

If you don’t send it back, then the SSA will not process your application. Sign it in pen and send it back as soon as you can. Benefits are tied to the date you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits.


Older workers seeking benefits may worry about attorney fees. However, if you have a severe medical condition that prevents you from working for more than one year, you should apply for benefits. Cannon Disability Law is only paid an attorney fee if we win your case.

Most people worry about the cost of hiring an attorney, but the SSA has capped attorney fees in Social Security cases at 25% of your past due or back benefit or $7200, which ever is less. This is the most your attorney can charge you if your case is won at the hearing level or below.

For example, if your attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $10,000, then the attorney fee will be 25% of the back benefit, or $2500. In such a case, you would not pay the $7200 cap. Instead, the attorney fee is 25% of the back benefit, which is less than the cap. This is what happens in most SSDI and SSI cases.

If your attorney wins your SSDI case and your back benefit is $100,000, then the attorney fee is not $25,000, which is 25% of the back benefit. Instead, the attorney fee would be $7200. Because $7200 is the most your attorney can charge you after winning your case. That is true even if 25% is higher than the $7200 cap.

If we don’t win your benefits, then we don’t get paid. There is evidence that hiring an attorney with experience raises your chances of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits by 30%.  Because you pay nothing upfront, you have nothing to lose by hiring us. You can only increase your chances of winning by hiring lawyers with Social Security legal experience.


Our law firm has been in business for 30 years. During that time we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases. We are experts at Social Security law. Our firm will help you at the outset of your case. We will help you apply for SSD benefits online at Social Security’s website.  Additionally, we appeal any SSA denial. Also, we help you understand what you questions the Judge will ask you at your hearing. In this way, we prepare you to explain why you can’t work to the Judge.

Our lawyers and staff have many years of legal experience. Because of our experience, we understand Social Security law. Also, we understand the GRID Rules. We also know what the SSA requires in terms of medical evidence.

Do your research. Call a number of lawyers and ask them how many SSDI and SSI cases they have won. If they have only won a few hundred cases, then ask yourself if they have the legal experience that you are looking for. Find a lawyer with the most success in this area of law to help you.

If you are an older worker, you may need help with your SSDI claim. Find out if the GRID Rules apply to you. Beyond being an older worker, learn about more signs that you have a good chance of winning your SSDI case.

Contact us today through this website. We do not charge you any money when you contact our office. Also, we offer a free review of your case. We can represent you no matter where you live. And, we like to help older workers win the benefits they rightly deserve. Contact Cannon Disability Law today.

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