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Why Activities of Daily Living are so Important to your Social Security Disability Claim

When you pursue disability benefits, you will be asked to fill out numerous forms by Social Security. You will find that many of these forms are repetitive – they seem to ask for the same information over and over.

Having spent a good deal of time with SSA’s forms (I wrote a book about how to fill them out properly), my guess is that this redundancy arises from the overall dysfunction at the Social Security Administration. Someone, in some far away office somewhere in the country, was given the assignment of heading up a team to update SSA’s disability forms. Government agencies rarely simplify anything so this nameless bureaucrat and his/her comrades no doubt spent months changing the format and the fonts, and adding questions to the forms.

Since there are only so many ways to ask you for an explanation why you believe you are disabled, the new forms ask for the same information 5 or 6 different ways.

With a few exceptions discussed below, I am not convinced that anyone with any decision making power actually reads your responses to these forms but you have to fill them out. Continue reading →

Will Attending College Hurt My Chances for Social Security Disability?

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.