Are you over 50 years old and unable to work? Do you have a disability that is going to prevent you from working for over 12 months? It can be difficult for older workers to find a new job or change careers. This is especially true if you have a disabling impairment. 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 lose your memory or be unable to learn new things. It can also cause you to be unable to concentrate and 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 your back arthritis and you have a disabling back impairment.

Likewise, you may not be able to learn new things on the job because of pain or mental impairments. If you are looking at applying for disability benefits, 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 favorable rules to you for free.


The SSA has different requirements for disability applicants who are over 50 years of age. 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 past education. 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 salesman, 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 capabilities, after taking into account the impact of your disability. For example, if your back impairment 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 do only sedentary work. 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 performing full-time work. Based upon all of these factors, the GRID rules determine if you are disabled or not disabled. The GRID is a framework which shows the SSA if you fall into certain categories. These categories 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 be eligible for disability benefits. You would have to also be unable to use any skills you learned on the job. But, if you cannot use your past skills and can only do a simple, seated job, then you would be eligible for disability 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 disability case.


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 waitress you are doing a light, skilled job. 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 unskilled work, the GRIDS say you are disabled.


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

If you can perform a seated, unskilled job, you might be able to be a parking lot attendant. Parking lot attendant is a seated, unskilled job. Unskilled means it does not take a long time to learn how to do the job. Perhaps, you could get a job where you sit in a booth and hand out tickets to people who want to park.  But, even if you could get this job and do it, if you are over 50 years old, the SSA’s rules state you eligible for disability benefits. In other words, you can receive disability benefits even if you are able to work.

The reason for this law is that the SSA believes that a 50 year old person would not be hired. You would not be hired, because in most entry-level positions you would be 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. This is true especially when it comes to hiring for entry level work.


Your alleged onset date is the day you say your disability began. 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 will make yourself ineligible for 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 representative 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, call us about your options for obtaining disability 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, you have a disability, if all you can perform is light, unskilled work, and that was not your past work. In that case, a similar test applies and you will be eligible for benefits.  Even if you could do a simple, light job.

In order to win benefits, however, you must file your application. If you live in Utah, learn more about Utah disability benefits here. California residents can learn more about filing for disability benefits in California here. Learn more here about filing for Nevada disability 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 evaluate your case. We always offer a free consultation. 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. We represent clients on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay an attorney fee until we win your case. If we do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee.

At Cannon Disability Law, it is always our goal to obtain benefits for our clients as quickly as possible. Our lawyers have obtained benefits for thousands of claimants who are over 50 years old. Find out more about our representatives 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 disability benefits. We have won over $100 million in past due and ongoing disability benefits for our clients. Contact us now and put our experience to work for you.

50 year old disabled woman in pain sitting