What types of activities can you participate in while you are waiting for Social Security to decide your claim? I received this question from a blog visitor:
Hello. I attend college, but my health has been declining for some time. I have a degenerative nerve disease, deteriorating discs in my lower back (not related to nerve disease), a sleep disorder, depression and ADHD. I filed a claim, and it is in appeal right now. Will continuing to attend college courses hurt my case?
Here is my answer: in my view, your attendance at college will hurt your disability case. Remember, the underlying question in a Social Security case has to do with your capacity for performing work or work like activity. If you are able to attend college courses, fulfil homework and long term assignment obligations and concentrate sufficiently to pass college level courses, many judges will conclude that you probably have the capacity for performing a simple, sit down job.
Even if your college schedule is part time, I think that you will be fighting an uphill battle. I have written many times before that Social Security sees things in black and white. A part time college course schedule suggests that your condition is manageable and that you most likely would have the capacity for unskilled work.
I have tried several cases before judges in which my client was enrolled in college courses and I can’t think of a single instance where we received a fully favorable decision. So, everything else being equal, my experience has been that college course attendance will hurt your chances for SSDI.
Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.