First, the bad news. In Oregon and in every other U.S. job market, unemployed persons aged 50 and older are having an extremely difficult time landing new jobs. This is especially true for people who have any sort of physical limitations or disability, regardless of the severity.
In fact, many experts predict that the continued worldwide economic slump, coupled with an increasing amount of employer reluctance to invest in older workers and high health care costs, will likely mean long-term and potentially permanent unemployment for a significant percentage of these individuals.
The good news, in a sense, is that the Social Security Administration recognizes that certain medical conditions and physical or mental impairments that would not prevent an 18- to 49-year-old person from being able to work can have a disabling effect on workers aged 50 and older. As a result, the SSA makes it somewhat easier for these workers to be awarded benefits and divides applicants into two groups.
The first group includes workers between the ages of 50 and 54. In these cases, the SSA recognizes that age combined with a severe impairment (or an equivalent combination of impairments) and limited past work experience may seriously affect a person’s ability to adjust to other work.
The second group includes workers aged 55 and older. In these cases, age is viewed as significantly diminishing an applicant’s ability to adjust to other work all by itself and significantly changes the benefits criteria used to evaluate their Social Security Disability claims.
Source: Grand Forks Herald, “Social Security Q & A: Is age a factor in getting Social Security disability?,” Howard Kossover, June 8, 2012