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Your completed education level may be relevant to the Social Security Administration (SSA) when you apply for Social Security disability benefits because the SSA may need to assess whether you can do another job if you are unable to do the job you currently do. Thus, you might conclude that people with higher levels of education may be less likely to qualify for Social Security disability.

But People of All Educational Levels and Achievements Qualify

According to the SSA:

  • In December 2010, the agency paid Social Security disability benefits to about 1.5 million people with 16+ years of education. This includes people who have finished a four year college degree and some or all of a graduate program.
  • In December 2010, the agency also paid Social Security disability benefits to about 1.5 million who had not completed 12 years of education—or who did not complete high school.
  • About 10% of Social Security disability recipients with 16+  years of education were living in poverty. That percentage went up to about 33% for Social Security disability recipients with 12 years or fewer of education.

Thus, Social Security disability is an important program for all who qualify, not just for those with lower educational achievements.

Wonder How Your Educational Level Will Impact Your Application?

If you qualify for Social Security disability based on a condition included in the Listing of Impairments, it might not impact your application at all. However, if you qualify for benefits because the severity of your condition prevents you from working, it is important to know that the SSA will consider what other jobs you still may be able to do given your education and work history.

To learn more about applying for Social Security disability benefits, please read our free Social Security Disabilty Fact Sheet.

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Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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