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Will it hurt my disability claim if I am going to school?

I have a disability that significantly impairs my ability to work a job with consistent hours, but since I have some days that are better than others I am able to read and write at certain times. I am interested, therefore, in both furthering my education and filing for permanent disability. But I do not know if the SS admin would look at the fact that I am advancing my education as an impediment to my claim to permanent and total disability. I am relatively certain that my doctor would be on board with helping me file for this. But I have not found anything online about this question I have. Can you help me?

The only time that Social Security will take a person's education into consideration is when the determination is being made as to whether that individual has the ability to perform some type of other work, assuming that they can no longer perform their own past work.

Disability examiners who render decisions on disability claims for the Social Security Administration are not directed to take into consideration the fact that an individual is attempting to advance their education. This type of information would likely not even come to the attention of Social Security since disability examiners (and judges for cases that have gone to the hearing level) only examine two basic types of evidence. The first is medical evidence and the second is vocational evidence concerning one's work history.

In child disability cases and adult cases where cognitive limitations may exist, Social Security may also examine school records to look for current evidence of impairment or evidence of lifelong limitations. But, in the case of adults, this has nothing to do with continuing and ongoing education.

To use a hypothetical, if a person was applying for disability on the basis of a psychological or psychiatric impairment and it become known to the disability examiner that the claimant was successfully pursuing higher education, might that influence the examiner's determination? My guess, as a former disability examiner, is that it might...even if that was never cited or acknowledged in the actual decision. Disability determinations are supposed to be completely objective, but often a fair amount of subjectivity creeps into the process. And disability adjudicators are not immune to having biases.

I suppose one way to answer your concern is to state that Social Security will not inquire into your ongoing education and you, likewise, are not obligated to mention this fact. After all, it is ongoing and not completed and when you will finish, or if you will finish is highly speculative. Social Security is only concerned with things that exist, not things that might exist. Simply put, I am not aware of any reason to mention the fact and you are not obligated to do so.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Will You Possibly Get Less Than Total Disability From Social Security?
Social Security Total Disability
Social Security Disability - Permanent Disability
Can an adult who has been to college but hasn't worked for a long time get Disability Benefits?
Mental Disability Benefits and What Social Security will Consider
What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Can You Get Approved For SSI or SSD Benefits IF You Have A Mental Condition But Do Not Take Medication?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria

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 provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits?
How do you find out if a Social Security disability claim has been approved or even denied?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
How much does Social Security Disability or SSI pay?
How does the Social Security Disability Review work?
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
More differences between Social Security Disability and SSI