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somatic disorder 50 year old disabled woman under the GRID rules in pain sittingAre you over 50 years old and can’t work due to a physical or mental condition? Has it lasted for over 12 months? Has your doctor told you that you are not going to be able to go back to work?

If so, then you may qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits.

It can be difficult for older workers to find a new job or change careers. This is especially true if you have a condition that causes chronic pain.

For example, you may have worked for years at one job and then become unable to do your job because of pain. Pain can cause you to have memory problems. Similarly, it can make you unable to learn new things. It can also make you unable to concentrate. Therefore, you forget instructions. Pain may cause you to be late to work. Likewise, pain may cause you to take too many breaks at work.

There may be other reasons you cannot work. For example, you may not be able to physically work at your old job where you must perform constant lifting. Or, perhaps years of constant, heavy lifting has given you arthritis and you have back pain.

Likewise, you may not be able to learn new things on the job because of pain or mental illness. If you are thinking of filing for SSD and SSI benefits, then there is good news. The law is helpful to people after they turn 50 years old. Contact Cannon Disability Law now and we will explain SSA’s rules to you for free.


The SSA has different rules for people who are over 50 years of age and file for SSD benefits. For instance, when you are over 50 years old, the SSA applies a law called the Medical Vocational Guidelines (the GRIDS) to your case. The GRIDS are a table that takes into account your age, skills from past work, and your education level. For example, the table asks if you have a high school diploma. It also looks at the skill level of your past work.

Also, the GRIDS consider whether any of your past skills from your work could transfer to a new job. For example, if you have sales skills from work as a car sales person, perhaps those skills could transfer to a job doing customer service over the phone.

In order for the GRID rules to apply to your case, the SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). The RFC is made up of your physical and mental limits, after taking into account the impact of your conditions. For example, if your back condition limits you to 10 pounds of lifting and also limits your ability to stand during an 8 hour workday, then you may be able to only do a desk job. Sedentary work is seated work, like a desk job.

After the SSA determines your physical residual functional capacity, then they will decide if you are capable of working. Based upon all of these factors, the GRID rules determine if you will be paid SSD benefits. The GRID is a framework which shows the SSA if you fall into a certain group. These groups depend on your skills, age, education, and past work experience.


For example, under GRID Rule 201.14, if you are over 50 years old and are unable to work at your previous job and you are limited to a seated job, then you may win SSD and SSI benefits. You would have to also be unable to use any skills you learned from your past job.

If you cannot use your past skills and can only do a simple, seated job, then you would win benefits. The reason you would win your case is that at 50, even if you could perform a simple, seated job, the SSA believes you will not be hired.

The reason you won’t be hired is because you are an older worker. An employer would rather give that kind of entry level job to a younger worker. Younger workers are more valuable to employers because they earn less money and will work for a longer period of time than an older worker.

Anyone who tries to get a job when they are in their 50’s will tell you how difficult it is to compete against younger workers. The SSA recognizes this problem when it applies the GRID Rules to your benefits claim.


The GRID Rules also apply at 55 years old. In that case, if you are found capable of light, unskilled work and that is not your past work, then you can win benefits. For example, if you work as a security guard you are doing a light, skilled job. Skilled jobs are jobs that require you to learn skills in order to perform the job. For example, in order to be a security guard, you may need to know how to use a gun. You might need to be trained in solving conflicts. You may also need training in communication skills and knowledge of security procedures.

Skills take more than 3 to 6 months to learn. The higher the skill level, the longer it takes to learn the skill. Sometimes, skills are learned on the job and it can take years to acquire them. Skilled jobs normally also require years of school. Think about how many years of school it takes for a doctor to learn to be doctor. Or, think about how many years of school and on the job training it takes to become a plumber. Those are jobs with high level skills.

The SSA defines light work as work that requires you to stand on your feet most of the day. It is also usually work that requires you to lift up to 20 pounds on a regular basis. At 55 years old, if all you can do is light job that requires no skills, then the GRIDS say you should be paid benefits.


If you have a back condition that limits your ability to stand, then you can’t do your cashier job. Likewise, if you cannot lift 20 pounds because of a back condition, it also prevents you from doing your past job as a cashier. You may also have a mental condition from back pain. For instance, maybe your back pain makes you unable to remember orders or your boss’s instructions. This would mean you could only do a seated job that doesn’t require skills.

If you can perform a seated job that does not require any skills, then you might be able to be a parking lot ticket taker. In other words, you let people in and out of a parking lot. Unskilled means it does not take very long to learn how to do the job.

Perhaps, you could get a job where you sit in a booth and give tickets to people who want to park. But, even if you could do this job, if you are over 50 years old, then the SSA’s rules award you benefits. In other words, you can receive Social Security benefits even if you are able to work.

The reason for this is the SSA believes that most employers will not hire a 50 year old person. Especially when your competition is younger. You would not be hired, because in most entry level positions you are competing against a young worker to get the job.

The SSA recognizes that employers prefer younger workers. If the employer has to choose between someone over 50 and someone who is 21, then the employer will usually hire the younger worker. The employer can train the young person and that person has many more years of work they can give the company.


Your alleged onset date is the day you became unable to work due to your physical or mental conditions. On your application, you write that date on the SSA’s forms. Then, it becomes your onset date. Most people choose the date they last worked. Or, some choose the date of an accident, after which they didn’t work. Others choose a surgery date. But what happens if the date you choose is a few months prior to your 50th birthday?

If you are seeking Social Security Disability benefits and you amend you onset date, make sure you don’t amend it to a date that is after your date last insured. If you amend your onset date to a date after you were last insured, then you cannot receive Social Security Disability benefits. You don’t want that to happen. So, make sure you check with your attorney before you change your onset date.

Unfortunately, the SSA rarely changes your onset date in order to apply the GRID rules. They rarely change it, even if it means you win your case. However, you can change it. And so can your lawyer.

Your lawyer should recommend changing your onset date so that the GRID Rules apply to you. Change it in order to win ongoing benefits. You may miss out on a few months of benefits. But, it is better to win now than appeal your case later. You can call the SSA and amend your onset date. Or, you can hire us and we will do it for you.


If you are over 50, then call us about your options for winning benefits. Please note that the GRID Rules are also in your favor if you are over 55 and cannot perform your past work.

At 55, the SSA will pay you SSD benefits, if you are limited to light unskilled work. Unskilled work means that you do not have skills that can transfer to a new job from your past work. In that case, a similar test applies and you will be win benefits.  Even if you could do a simple, light job. See residual functional capacity for a discussion of the types of work the SSA considers.

In order to win benefits, however, you must file your application. If you live in Utah, then learn more about Utah SSDI and SSI benefits. California residents can learn more about filing for SSDI benefits in California. Learn more about filing for Nevada SSD benefits. If you are from Idaho, then read about how to file for Idaho SSDI benefits. Also, you can learn more about Colorado SSD benefits.


Contact Cannon Disability Law and we can explain if these special rules apply to your case. It is free to call us. Also, it is free for us to look at your case and discuss your medical conditions. We always offer a free review of your case.

Likewise, we are happy to talk to you about the merits of your claim. It also doesn’t cost any money upfront to hire us. This means you do not pay an attorney fee until we win your case. If we do not win, then you do not pay an attorney fee. Learn more about how attorney fees work.

At our law firm, it is always our goal to obtain benefits for our clients as quickly as possible. Our lawyers have won benefits for thousands of clients who are over 50 years old. Find out more about our lawyers and staff on our About Us page.

We will help you apply for benefits. Also, we will help you fill out the SSA paperwork and obtain the medical records that explain why you deserve to win your SSD & SSI benefits. We have won over $100 million in past due and ongoing SSD and SSI benefits for our clients. Contact us now and put our experience to work for you.

50 year old disabled woman in pain sitting


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