Boise, ID – When you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, your education and age do matter. To understand how, it helps to know a bit about the process the Social Security administration goes through to determine if you are disabled. First, Social Security will try to determine if your disability is equal in severity to one of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments. If your impairment does not meet or equal one of these impairments, but is still severe, then Social Security will determine what you are capable of doing, both mentally and physically, to see if you can return to past work. If you can’t, then your age and education becomes important. Social Security will look at your age and education, in addition to any past work experience, to determine if you can do any other work. One of our disability lawyers can help you with any step of this process. Our disability attorneys for Boise, Idaho can review your case and let you know how your age and education will affect your disability claim.
Age is important because it can be a factor in affecting how well you can adapt to new work experiences or compete with other people. Social Security will put you in one of four groups according to your age. The first is for individuals under 50; the second for individuals between 50 and 54; third, 55 to 59; and fourth is for individuals between 60 and 64. Social Security uses these when determining your residual functional capacity (or RFC). Basically, the older you are, the easier Social Security makes it to determine that you can’t do any work. For more about this, please see the article entitled Ability to Return to Past Relevant Work.
Education is also an important factor. As far as Social Security is concerned, education is any training that contributes to your ability to do work. Just because you don’t have a lot of formal schooling doesn’t mean that you aren’t educated or that you don’t have the abilities you need to work. Past work or hobbies you have could prove that you have intellectual abilities that could be used for work.
How important the Social Security administration thinks the education you have is depends on how much time has passed since you completed your education and when your onset date is. They know that your education may have been completed too long ago for it to still be useful for you in working; however, if you can’t show that your actual education is different from the grade level you completed, then they will have to use it to determine your abilities.
Once again, Social Security divides education level into four groups. The first is illiteracy, which means that you can’t read or write a simple message or understand written instructions. You can still be considered illiterate even if you can sign you name. The second is marginal education, which means that you have some math, English and reasoning skills that will allow you to do simple, unskilled jobs. Generally, marginal education is around a sixth grade education. The next one is limited education, which also means that you can have some math, English and reasoning skills, but not enough to do some of the complex duties needed in semiskilled or skilled jobs.
Generally, limited education means that you have somewhere between a seventh and eleventh grade education. The final category is a high school education and above. The Social Security administration generally thinks that someone with this level of education is capable of doing semiskilled or skilled work. Keep in mind that Social Security also considers your ability to communicate in English, and often considers this as part of the educational factor. Someone who has difficulty speaking or understanding English may have difficulty getting a job, since English is the primary language in the United States.
In a hypothetical example, a claimant is fifty five, has a second grade education hasn’t worked his entire life. Physically, the claimant is capable of doing medium work. (Medium work is defined as being able to lift up to fifty pounds and being capable of standing six hours out of an eight hour work day.) However, the claimant could still be found disabled because the chance of him finding work that he is qualified to do is very small.
Education and age can be very important in determining whether you get disability benefits or not. If you have any questions about the process, you can contact one of our Social Security disability attorneys.
Originally posted 2013-08-07 00:28:35.