How Education and Age Affect Your Social Security Application
Your age and education level make a difference when applying for Social Security disability benefits. It is helpful to have an understanding of the process the SSA uses to establish whether or not you are disabled. There are various factors that the SSA considers such as age and education. A Social Security attorney for our office can assess your situation to determine how your age and education level could affect your claim.
The SSA compares your disability to impairments listed in the Listing of Impairments to determine if they are similar in severity. If your disability is severe, but it does not meet or equal one of these impairments, the SSA will determine what you are capable of doing, mentally and physically, to decide if there is a possibility you could return to previous work. If they decide that you cannot, your age and education level will be assessed. The SSA will consider this, along with the types of jobs you have held in the past, to determine if you could possibly return to some other type of work. Our experienced Social Security attorneys can assist you with any aspect of this process.
As mentioned, education is an essential factor. The SSA considers education to be any type of training you have completed that adds to your ability to work. The SSA doesn’t believe that formal education is the only thing that should be considered. Previous jobs and hobbies can provide you with the intellectual abilities that could be used to work. Do not think that because you are not highly educated that the SSA will automatically think that you do not have the ability to work.
Education is also divided into four groups. The first group contains illiterate individuals, or those who are unable to read, write, or comprehend written instructions. If you’re only capable of signing your name, you’re considered illiterate. Marginal education is the second category. This group includes people who have basic English, math, and reasoning skills that enable them to perform simple, unskilled jobs. This is approximately equivalent to a sixth grade education. The third group is limited education. This group has some English, math, and reasoning skills, but not enough to perform the complex tasks required in semiskilled or skilled jobs.
The SSA also considers the length of time between when you completed your education and when your disability began. They are aware that it is possible your education was completed too long ago for it to still be useful in work that is currently available.
Usually, individuals that have completed anywhere between seventh and eleventh grade are placed in the limited education category. The final category includes anyone that has a high school education or higher. Generally, the SSA considers anyone in this group to be able to perform semiskilled or skilled work. Additionally, SSA considers your ability to communicate in English and considers it part of the educational factor. As a result of English being the primary language in the United States, people who have trouble speaking or understanding English may experience difficulty obtaining a job.
Your age is an important factor in assessing how easily you would be able to adapt to new job experiences or compete with others. The SSA places you into one of four categories based on your age. The first group consists of anyone under 50. The second is for people between 50 and 54. The third contains people between 55 and 59. The final group contains people between 60 and 64. Essentially, the SSA finds that it is easier to determine you cannot return to work as you get older.
Consider the following hypothetical scenario. The claimant is 55 years old, has a second grade education, and hasn’t worked in his entire life. From a physical standpoint, the claimant can perform medium work. (Medium work is defined as being able to stand 6 hours out of an 8 hour work day and being able to lift 50 pounds.) The claimant could be found disabled because there is minimal to no chance of him finding a job that he is qualified to do.
Age and education level can be a significant factor in determining whether or not you are eligible for disability benefits. Please contact a Social Security attorney from our office with any questions you may have regarding this process.