When you reach age 50, earning a living can become more difficult, especially if you aren't as physically able as you once were or you suffer a disability that interferes with your ability to work. Even if you want to retire, you won't be able to qualify for Social Security retirement until you are at least 62, and you won't receive your full benefit amount unless you wait until full retirement age. For this reason, some workers with disabilities apply for Social Security disability benefits in their 50s.
Know Whether You're Eligible
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must be unable to work because of a disability or illness that will last for at least one year or end in your death. You must also have earned at least 40 work credits, with at least 20 credits earned in the 10 years before your disability began. The amount of money you must earn for each credit changes from one year to the next, and you can earn up to four work credits each year you work.
Don't Rely on Your Age
Being over age 50 won't automatically qualify you to receive SSDI benefits. Regardless of your age, you must demonstrate that your physical or mental condition causes you to be unable to work even part time. However, certain conditions related to aging, such as degenerative disc disease, arthritis or Alzheimer's disease, may help you qualify for benefits.
The SSDI application process can be lengthy, especially if Social Security denies your initial claim. Until Social Security approves your application, you will need to rely on other sources of income, such as government assistance or retirement accounts, to cover your expenses. Begin the application process as soon as you know you can no longer work, and respond to any inquiries from Social Security as quickly as possible.
Know Your Other Options
If you are unable to qualify for SSDI on your own work record, you may be able to qualify under your spouse's record. To apply for benefits based on work credits your spouse earned before his death, you must be a disabled widower or widow over age 50 but younger than age 60. Likewise, if you are disabled and your household income falls beneath Social Security's limits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments.
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.