Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
Can an adult who has been to college but hasn't worked for a long time get Disability Benefits?
Yes, a person's level of education does have some potential influence on the outcome of a disability claim (for social security disability or SSI benefits). But the impact of one's level of education is not as great as some might think. Education really only becomes a factor in the sequential evaluation process and this is at the stage where:
A) The adjudicator (a disability examiner or a disability judge) has already determined that the claimant is not capable of returning to their past work and
B) The adjudicator is trying to determine whether or not the claimant has the ability--based on their limitations, their age, their work skills, and their education--to do some type of other work.
However, even when educational level becomes a factor, the highest level of educational attaintment that is factored into the process by the social security administration is high school graduation. The grid rules themselves, which direct a decision of "disabled" or "not disabled" (based on factors mentioned in the preceding paragraph) will use the phrase High school graduate or more. There is no specific reference to post-secondary educational attainment, nor is such a level of educational attainment given any weight in the disability evaluation process.
Can an adult who has been to college get disability benefits? Since the social security administration does not really differentiate between high school graduation and college, we can say that having taken college coursework will not present any additional roadblocks to qualifying for disability benefits. Whether or not one qualifies for disability benefits will largely depend on their ability (or lack thereof) to re-enter the workforce, either performing some type of work that they have done previously (relevant past work) or peforming some type of other work that takes into consideration their level of functioning, skills, and how old they are.
Getting approved for disability relies on the ability of the claimant (and/or their disability lawyer) to prove that there is at least one mental or physical or impairment that is severe enough that it may prevent the claimant from engaging in substantial and gainful work activity for at least one full year.
Proving this level of severity is demonstrated in two ways:
A) By what the medical records have to say about the claimant's mental or physical condition and
B) By whether or not the claimant has been able to engage in work activity to the level where they could earn a substantial and gainful income.
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria