Why are my education and work experience factors in deciding whether my application for disability will be approved?

By / The Claims Process / 41 Comments

Learn the importance of your education and work history and see when and how they relate to your Social Security application for disability.

Meeting the Disability Listings
If your medical or psychiatric condition is so severe that it meets Social Security’s Listing of Impairments, the Social Security Administration will not review your education or work history when evaluating your application for disability. Nor will your education or transferable skills from work experience be considered if you are able to return to a past occupation.

When Your Education and Work History Affect Your Disability Claim
If your condition does not meet the Listings, which is often the case, then Social Security evaluates whether or not you are disabled by comparing your physical and mental capabilities to the mental and physical demands of work you have done in the past. If you are unable to perform past occupations, that’s when your education and work experience come into play. If your education and transferable skills from past work prepare you to work in an occupation that is within your health limitations, you are not disabled according to Social Security law and your claim will be denied. On the other hand, if you do not have the education and experience to work in a new occupation that you can physically or mentally perform, your claim will be approved. How education and experience are factored into the evaluation is affected by your age, depending on whether you are under age fifty, age fifty through age fifty-four or age fifty-five or older.

You can see from this that it is important for you to answer carefully and completely Social Security’s or your attorney’s questions about your work history. When listing your duties, be sure to list all your duties, describing the physical and mental demands of each and why you cannot meet those demands now.

For a more complete discussion of Social Security’s definition of disability and how your application for disability is evaluated, please see our articles What Is Disability According to Social Security Law? and How Does the Social Security Administration Apply Social Security Laws to Determine If I Am Disabled?

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