Did you know that it is easier to qualify for Social Security disability benefits as you get older? It is true—and the primary reason is because of something called a vocational adjustment. Here, you will find a brief overview of vocational adjustment and an explanation as to how it can affect your SSDI or SSI claim.
Social Security Disability Vocational Adjustment: Understanding the Basics
To be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, an applicant must prove that they are no longer reasonably able to work on a full-time basis. In reviewing a claim, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider not just your ability (or lack thereof) to return to your previous position, but also your suitability to successfully transition into a new workplace or into a new field entirely. In assessing your ability to “adjust” to a new position, the SSA considers an applicant’s:
- Ability to perform physically taxing work;
- Level of education;
- Work history and previous job experience;
- Transferable skills; and
How a Vocational Adjustment Affects Your SSD Claim
An applicant who is deemed reasonably able to adjust to a new position can have their disability claim denied on those grounds alone. Generally speaking, vocational adjustment works in favor of older applicants. If an applicant is approaching 60, the SSA views in-depth job retraining as, largely, unreasonable. That being said, workers who are nearing retirement age may be expected to make “slight” adjustments in order to find a new position. This could mean using skills that have not previously been used.
On the other hand, younger workers—most notably, those below the age of 50—are viewed as ‘adjustable’. The SSA considers comprehensive job retraining reasonable. In fact, if an applicant who is under 50 and is deemed capable of performing any kind of work—even if that work is quite different from their previous employment history—they will be expected to make a vocational adjustment.
If you have questions about vocational adjustment or if you believe that the agency is handling your claim improperly, an experienced lawyer, such as the ones at the Social Security Law Group, can help.