Social Security Disability Resource Center
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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.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
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
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing an application for disability
Filing for disability and medical conditions that qualify
How long to get disability benefits when you apply
Social Security Disability application denied
Winning disability benefits, how to win
Winning disability for a mental condition
Social Security Disability Back pay, SSD, SSI
Eligible for Social Security Disability SSI
Getting a Disability Lawyer in California
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in California?
How long does it take to get disability in California?