An unfortunate fact of life is that disabilities and serious health problems do not discriminate based on age. Many young adults suffer from debilitating conditions that seriously impact their ability to work or preclude them from being able to work. If you or someone you know fits into this category, they maybe be eligible for disability benefits.
There are no age restrictions with respect to receiving disability benefits. In fact, even children can be eligible for benefits, along with some adults who first became disabled as a child. However, there are some specific considerations with respect to childhood benefits, so this blog post will focus on the scenario in which someone becomes disabled as a young adult.
For purposes of adult disability benefits, anyone between the ages of 18 and 50 is considered a “younger individual”. Once someone turns 50, the standard that must be met to receive benefits begins to lessen somewhat. An individual over the age of 50 must establish the existence of one or more severe impairments which prevents her from doing her past work performed on a full-time basis within the last 15 years. Even if this claimant could still perform some “sedentary” work (think sit down jobs with limited lifting), she may still be found disabled, at least if she has not acquired any skills that translate directly into sedentary work. The standard for what constitutes “disabled” continues to lessen once an individual becomes age 55, and again once an individual reaches age 60.
Conversely, if you are under the age of 50, you must demonstrate not only that you cannot perform your past work, but that you cannot perform any other work that exists in significant numbers in that national economy. For example, if your past work required heavy lifting, you must show not only that you can no longer do this type of work, but that you could not physically or mentally perform a sit-down type of job either. There are many people under the age of 50 that fit this profile and who ultimately receive disability benefits. You should not feel discouraged from applying for benefits if you are under 50. The reality, though, is that it typically becomes easier to be found disabled once you surpass age 50.