The person’s age and education are also factors in whether they qualify for
disability. Individuals who are less than fifty years old must be more severely
disabled to qualify than those who are older. The principle is that young people
with a good basic education should be able to learn new skills and go back to
work. If the claimant is over 55 and has limited education, the program
acknowledges that retraining or changing careers is not a reasonable option.
Age fifty to fifty-five is a gray area where some will qualify and some will not.
The other important consideration is credibility. The claimant is asked to tell
the DDS how their functioning is limited by their disease and by their pain. The
level of pain and how it affects their life is often very important in determining
disability. Regardless of how bad the degenerative disc disease appears on X
ray, if the claimant can go deer hunting, he can obviously walk more than 100
feet. On the other hand, someone whose X rays don’t look too bad may have
such severe pain that he has given up all social activities, and cannot sit long
enough to watch a TV program. A claimant who can do things that he or she
likes but can’t do work is not very credible.