SS card and moneySocial Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are government programs that provide monetary aid to help people who are unable to support themselves financially. Each program has particular regulations for eligibility created by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When an application for SSD or SSI fails to meet these requirements, the claim is denied. Likewise, if an applicant’s condition or situation changes during the course of receiving benefits, benefits may be revoked.

SSA Age Requirements and Limitations

Age plays an important role when determining benefit qualifications. For disability claims, knowing the applicant’s age allows the SSA review board to evaluate whether the claimant can be expected to work as a result of his condition.

For example, an applicant who is 70 can’t be expected to adapt to his condition and return to work. However, a 24-year-old with the same condition may be able to understand and adjust to job modifications.

On the other side of the spectrum, the regulations that pertain to children’s benefit eligibility are different than the adult requirements. In fact, the condition classifications for children are completely separate from the ones used to evaluate adult disabilities. A child who files for SSD or SSI is evaluated on the functional limitations that an impairment (mental, physical, or both) has on his quality of life, rather than on his ability to work. However, when a child reaches a certain age, the requirements to maintain benefits revert to the adult regulations.

Noteworthy age-related distinctions in SSD and SSI claims include the following:

Newborn to Age 18

A child can be eligible for disability or supplemental security benefits the moment he is born. There isn't a minimum age requirement to receive aid. To receive benefits, a detailed application must be filed by a parent, guardian, or social services' agency representative that explains the nature of the child's condition and why aid is needed. Since the benefits aren’t based on the child’s ability to work or his work history, the financial records of any caregivers will also be required to determine eligibility.

If approved, the child may be able to receive benefits without changes, as long as his condition remains the same, until his 18th birthday. 

Ages 18-22

The SSA considers a person to be an adult at the age of 18. This means that all requirements for disability and SSI will be re-evaluated under the adult regulations. If your child was ineligible for SSI as a result of a parent or guardian's income, he may be eligible once he turns 18, as caregivers’ incomes are no longer a factor. Furthermore, SSD benefits may continue to be paid as a “child benefit,” if the case is evaluated under the Social Security earnings record of the adult child’s parents. To be reviewed under the parents’ record, the following must be true of the applicant:

  • He remains living with a parent or guardian.
  • His condition occurred before his 22nd birthday.
  • His caregiver(s) receive(s) Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Age 50 or Older

The older you are, the easier it is to be approved for disability. Approval is based on four main factors: Residual functional capacity (RFC), education, work history, and transferable/adaptable skills

A healthy, middle-aged applicant will most likely have (or have the ability to manage):

  1. A high RFC. A steady ability to work without limitations such as needing extra breaks or not being able to stand for long periods of time.
  2. A good education. Although a good education is not guaranteed, younger applicants tend to have the time and energy to learn new things that could help them expand their career-base.
  3. A fair work history. Every year that an applicant is employed helps him acquire Social Security, which in turn increases his chance for approval.
  4. A reasonably adaptable skill set. Younger applicants tend to have the ability to modify how they work to efficiently complete tasks.

However, as you get older, these factors change. Your RFC decreases and the opportunity to learn a new skill set isn’t as viable, making you more in need of aid than others. Your work experience and Social Security record will have increased as well, again making you more qualified to receive benefits.

We Can Help

For more information on the intricacies and complexities of Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income, contact our office today. We’ve spent our entire careers helping people like you get the information and legal representation needed to secure their futures.


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