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SSDI - Lawyer said I was too young for disability benefits

Recently on our forum a disability applicant was told by a disability lawyer that they were too young for SSA disability benefits. Without more information it’s tough to provide one specific answer to why the lawyer may have said this so in this blog we will address reasons that young claimants may have a difficult time winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Young applicant lacks sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is provided to workers who have worked and earned sufficient work credits to be considered insured by the SSA. If you have been denied SSDI benefits it could be because you have not worked and paid enough employment taxes to qualify for SSDI. So how many work credits does a younger worker need?

The SSA provides the following guidelines on their site:

  1. Before age 24--You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.

  2. Age 24 to 31--You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).


Keep in mind, in the year 2012, the SSA states, “You must earn $1,130 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $4,520 to get the maximum four credits for the year.”

So the first reason you might be too young to get SSDI benefits is that you are not insured. I doubt this is what the disability lawyer was referring to, however, because even if you lacked sufficient work credits for SSDI benefits a young worker who is severely disability may be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which does not require a worker to have a work history.

A young claimant’s condition does not meet or exceed a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments


Another reason a young applicant may be SSI or SSDI denied disability benefits is because they do not have a condition which meets or exceeds a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments, and they are not able to prove that they cannot work or retrain for some type of work.

The SSA Listing of Impairments outlines conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling and will qualify for SSDI or SSI. Claimants of any age, assuming they have enough work credits, can qualify for SSDI if they have a condition which “meets or exceeds a listing.”

Young disability applicants, however, will have difficulty winning SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance. Through the medical vocational allowance process the SSA determines if an applicant can work sedentary, light or medium work. They will also evaluate a claimant’s age, work history and educational level. The SSA has a set of GRIDs that they use to plot a claimant’s capabilities.

So if the SSA determined that you could do sedentary work which means you are able to sit for up to 6 hours in an 8 hour day, and lift up to 10 lbs. occasionally during a day and you have a high school diploma and transferrable work skills the SSA will automatically determine you are NOT disabled if you are less than 55 years of age. The sedentary GRID does not provide for a disabled rating for a high school graduate until the claimant is around 55 years of age and lacks transferrable skills.

So what is your lawyer saying? He knows that your condition does not meet or exceed a listing and you are too highly educated to prove that you cannot do some type of sedentary of light work given your young age. Ultimately, he does not believe he can win your case.
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