One of the most important things to understand to about Social Security disability is that you’re more likely to be approved the older that you are.
Social Security has specifically set up what is called the “grid rules” to take into account a claimant’s age, education, and past work so that as most individuals reach the age of 50 and then 55, it is easier for them to get disability.
The short explanation for this is that essentially, you can be approved if you’re limited to certain types of unskilled jobs while everyone under the age of 50 has to show they’re completely disabled from all jobs.
One other exception to those rules has been the inability to communicate in English. Essentially, the rules changed so that it was easier for non-English speakers to get disability benefits beginning at age 45.
However, that is no longer the case.
As of the end of April, Social Security no longer considers the inability to communicate in English as a factor that affects employment prospects.
The reasoning beyond this is that changes in the workforce in the 40 years since the rule was originally adopted have supposedly made it easier for non-English speakers to obtain full-time jobs.
Unfortunately, the new rule applies to all cases currently pending before Social Security, not just those filed after the new rule came out in April.
So what does this mean going forward? Unfortunately, it is going to be more difficult for non-English speakers between the ages of 45 and 50 to get approved for disability. I have no doubt that we’re going to see some cases getting denied that would have been approved under the old rules.
However, it’s not necessarily the death knell for these cases, as strong medical evidence can always win over a judge at a hearing regardless of a claimant’s age.