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How Your Education Affects Your Chances For SSDI Benefits

If you can show the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your medical condition is negatively affecting your ability to work, you may be entitled to benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is aimed at those who have worked enough to qualify for such a benefit. Along with proving that you have a medical or mental condition, there is also a need to show that you are unable to work at your most recent job or any alternate job. This area of determination can be complex and may be further complicated by your education. For those expecting to have their benefits approved at the appeal hearing, it's vital to understand it. Read on to find out more.

What Work Can You Do?

The disability determination services (DDS) arm of the SSA takes over your case after you've satisfied the medical eligibility part of the process for approval. The job ahead of the DDS is to determine two things:

  1. Can you still perform the tasks of your most recent job given your medical condition?
  2. Can you perform at any other job given your experience and education level?

If the information provided to the DDS fails to answer those questions or the answer to either question is "yes," your application for benefits will be denied.

On to Your Appeal Hearing

Sadly, almost all SSDI applicants are unable to show proof of either their medical condition or the way it affects their ability to perform the tasks of a job. This aspect of your case is known by the SSA as your residual functioning capacity (RFC).

How Your Education Comes into the Picture

The more education you have, the more difficult it will be to be approved for benefits. The SSA views education as a built-in safeguard for workers against being unable to work. Unfortunately, that perception is quite inaccurate since your bachelor's degree has no effect on your medical condition. The SSA, however, uses your level of education to determine whether or not you can do other work. For example, if your heart condition makes you unable to work as a manager in a factory, perhaps you could use your business degree to do a more sedentary job in the office of the factory. Your appeal hearing is your opportunity to explain to the administrative law judge how your education level will not result in an alternate job. You might, for example, explain that you have no recent business experience and that your degree was awarded many years ago.

To find out more about overcoming this false perception, speak to a Social Security lawyer like those at Gordon & Pont