Understanding How Grid Eligibility is Determined
If you have a physical disability, are approaching retirement age, and are no longer able to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits through grid eligibility. “Grid rules”, also known as medical-vocational guidelines, are used by the Social security administration to determine cases of disability that cannot be decided solely by a person’s medical history. Even if you are able to perform physical work of a light to medium intensity, you may still qualify under these guidelines. “Grid rules” are so named because the terms which dictate eligibility are laid out and presented in a grid format. Typically, these rules only apply to individuals with physical disabilities. Mental impairments do not qualify a person for disability under grid rules.
Factors Which Determine Eligibility
As we grow older, it can become more difficult to continue working in physically demanding jobs or to break into new careers. The SSA recognizes this and has set up guidelines to provide benefits based on age, educational level, skills required for past work, transferable skills, and current ability to work. Generally, the harder it is for an individual to find work based on these factors, the easier it will be to claim disability under grid rules.
The factors used to determine applicant eligibility include:
- Education: The higher level of standard education an applicant has received, the harder it will be to qualify for disability. Education levels are determined based on if the person has graduated from high school, advanced education or training, and their ability to communicate in English.
- Work experience: The SSA grids classify jobs as either unskilled, semi-skilled, or skilled. Typically, individuals with a history of only unskilled work will have an easier time qualifying for grid benefits. Considerations for the skill level of a job can include training needed as well as the length of training required for a job.
- Transferable skills: In cases where applicants have skilled or semi-skilled work experience, the SSA will take into account the potential transferability of those skills to other positions or fields of work. The more transferable skills a person has, the harder it may be to claim disability.
- Ability to continue working: The intensity of work which applicants can perform is known as a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC). Grids are broken down into three groups: sedentary work, light work, and medium work. It is important to note that an individual who can perform heavy work will not qualify for benefits under these grid rules.
- Age: applicants are grouped into one of four age brackets which can apply to one or more grids. The age groups are: younger individuals (18-49), closely approaching advanced age (50-54), advanced age (55 and over), and closely approaching retirement age (60 and over). Generally, the older a person is, the easier it will be to qualify.
Questions on Grid Eligibility? Call (888) 421-8705
Despite the rules set in place by the Social Security administration for disability benefits, it may become necessary to argue your case for SSD eligibility. A skilled lawyer can passionately represent you at a hearing and can help to ensure that you receive the benefits you need. If you are experiencing issues qualifying for your disability benefits, do not hesitate to call our Sacramento Social Security disability attorneys from Disability Action Advocates today.
Schedule a free case review and speak to an attorney about your claim.