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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.

32 thoughts on “Will Attending College Hurt My Chances for Social Security Disability?”

  1. I am aware of cases where students have received SSDI while attending college. Your medical evidence, showing ungoing treatment and loss of functionality, is extremely important.

  2. I don’t disagree with Fran’s point, however, I think that any claimant who is attending college is going to have to explain how and why college attendance is not a functional equivalent of a simple, unskilled job.

  3. I also strongly believe that attending college will hurt your chances and that is even with accommodations. I am an approved non-attorney representative and my Judge view your state of mind when evaluating you. If you are seeking work or college then that seems to indicate that you are looking to the future. There is nothing wrong with looking to the future but most disabled people tend to focus on the here and now. Finally, I use the old 1 for 2 rule–one class hour equals two hours of home work. Thus, 12 class hours equal 24 hrs of outside work which is almost 36 hrs total. Then add in the driving time and it usually hits 40 hrs a week at school.

  4. I experienced sudden hearing loss in both ears overnight last year. Previously I had been employed as a assisted living administrator but due to my diagnosis of Meniere’s disease and subsequent auto accident that has left me with chronic neck, back and leg pain I am unable to work in my previous capacity. I went to the Division of Vocational and Rehabilitative Services and received assistance to get hearing aids as well as a tuition waiver. (This was before the auto accident). I was able to complete one semester of school in spite of the pain. However, this last semester i had to withdraw from one of the classes and was absent on several occasions due to the pain and lack of focus. I have applied for SSDI and would like to continue with school if my body allows to learn a new profession. The postings here have me very concerned. My husband has been out of work with an injury for more than a year. Financially we are crippled. The only hope we have of surviving is if I am approved for SSD. But, I don’t want to be disabled and I am not looking forward to living like this for the rest of my life I am only 43. It seems to me like you are not expected to want to advance yourself in spite of detrimental injuries or health concerns. If we are able to learn a new profession and return to the work force in a meaningful capacity we are then able to pay into the system instead of draw from it.

  5. Hello, I agree with simpleemee. Even though, I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE), and Sarcoidosis (SSA) they seem to think everyone is abled bodied to work in some way shape or form. My body is going through its transition and the symptoms can be very disturbing. However, I applied for SSDI also and I’m in the appeal status as we speak. I have a Lawyer representing my case as we speak. So now for the hard part is to wait. What did anyone do about income? please share this with me I’m currently on a medical leave from work and I have no source of income present? Help.

  6. It took about a year for mine to go through. I was lucky enough to have a partner that made enough for us to survive on. I also sold items on ebay and used coupons to shop. You would be suprised at the items you get for free using coupons. Search for some coupon forums.
    I know it can be a pain and they always deny the first time, so appeal get an attorney and be pursistant. I called the soc # at least 3-5 times a week and I think that really helped speed it up. Be prepaired if the judge rules in your favor, you still have a wait before you start getting ang money in. Call soc and have your bank account info in there and you can do your kids app on the phone with them before you even get a judgement this will speed payment up in the end.

  7. I am on disability and have been told that I may never return to work again, for sure not as a General Manager of a resturant. I am very interested in taking online and maybe a course or 2 at the local community college. I don’t care if it takes me 5 years to complete a course but I do need to change careers and thought this would be the right time. I had back surgery I ended being one of the 20% that came out worse. Why, could be because of the Lupus or Kidney problems I have been dealing with for over 11 years. It doesn’t matter but I was told I could never go into my field. What worries me if in five years they say oh you can work and they figure some minumim wage job, and we won’t be able to live. I just thought that maybe earning a degree while I stumble through online classes at home could help. Maybe I would even find a job I could do part time to get off disability. I live in Wisconsin so I don’t know if that cchanges things. Any wise word anyone can send would be greatly appreciated. I know I can contact SS, but if its a negative I don’t want them to know I’m looking. Right now I know I can’t go back to work. After the first of the year we are starting with my Kidney issues of not even working at 50% that was not even considered in my social security disability back when I was approved. Don’t they want us to try to get off it with what ever help we can get.

  8. Okay, can I clear this up for ppl? You can go to school and can work when you get the disability! It looks bad however, if you do while waiting. I know its ironic. How do I know? A kid with Adhd gets SSI, and goes to a technical college. Not online classes, but a tech college. Also tons work with ssdi.In moststates, for every $2 you make, they take out $1 for your check. Secondly, it does suck. What do you do? If your waiting for ssi( especially in appeals ), you have nothing and cant get nothing. My advice, while your in ur iniial try to have as much documentation as you can and try to get pressumptive disability. Its rare, but having all the doctor support and documentation will help. Also, when ur doc write a note, makes sure it spells out your problems in detail. Not just a note stating,” So and so cant work do to this”. You need documented proof, and detail.
    Another thing, they just dont go by a doctors letter, but the documentation thats in your file. Ex. If your filing a mental case( which is best odds of winning btw ), what is in your file. Just going to the ER is not enough. Were you admitted by a doctor? Did you go to the cardiovascular floor because your anxiety attacks/Bipolar,hypomania were so bad?,ect,ect. I am just giving examples.

    Okay Phase 2-Your case-

    Most likely there will be a vocational expert. Sometimes they are qualified enough, sometimes not. They really should have medical experts. Also, sometimes in say back injury cases, they will look at records from an occupational therapist. One of the most faked disorders are back/shoulder and adhd. See for those who are lying, an OT can easily see. I learned disability cases for back and shoulder my first class in occupational therapy in college. So, if we learned that in our first class, guess how much else we learned in regards…I will not comment any further because there are ppl who scam the system.

    Overall, the system can stink! How can sum1 claiming adhd attend college at a tech school( while on disability ) while someone with breast C waits? Answer: It is what it is, and the difference is one person got it, the other didnt. However, if you have the proper documentation both in file and in hand to support your case, then the odds of intially winning are higher. Also, you can have a chance at whats called pressumptive disability( although its rare ). Also, ppl if you dont want to visit the SSDI docs( either because you fear it or dont trust ) then m,ake sure u have your own doctors. More times or not, they send you to a doc because there is a lack of info in your files, you lack doctor visits per your condition you claim, or they want to get a better feel. However, if you have been keeping your appts and your condition is bad, and documented in your files..then theres an okay chance they wont send you to their docs. I was in OT until they extended it, so in a degree of science and cardiovascular I went…lol. This may not be the best I can give you, take it for what its worth. However, anyone that tells you documentation doesnt matter in your file( unless a crazy circumstance ) then A) they are in for pure money, or B) Dont know what they are really talking about. You have better chances if in your files your doctor explains everything out, or in letter. I think documentation figures in more though. So have DOCUMENTATION of your problems. Have it by going to your doctor. Alot of ppl are too proud to tell their doc everything, until things get super bad. Trust me I know what its like, I had 3 concussions, a partial fractured skull, a spinal tap because they thought one of my concussions gave me bleeding in brain( it was that bad ). I broke my clavicle( collar bone ) and still played football and made two more tackles in a football game. However, when it comes to your case and your health, tell your doctor. Sometimes you can have too much pride. One year I played BB with a dislocated biceps tendon in my throwing arm. Plus many other injuries. I had too much pride to tell my coach cause I thought he would pull me out. Well guess what? Your case isnt a sport, and your doc should be bound by confidential not to tell neone( like next door neighbor ect ) about your case. Dont let your pride get in the way of your case.

    Do note: That if your case dose go to court, when I said you want get anything I meant, while your waiting. I didnt mean you wont win your case, I am just clearing that up if sum1 misunderstood. I know sum1 who won their case by going to court with a very mediocre disability. She told me they had many ppl there. What she was prob referring to was medical experts, plus vo-expert. Most likely because her case was very mediocre, and the judge needed to make a better determination( seems was a sympathetic judge ). However, this person sorta cheated the system. I wont get into why, thats why I said mediocre. So yes you can win in court. Also, some states or judges may or may not be more conservative than others. Hopefully your lawyer( I would think ) would have an idea of what ur judge was like. This is just info from what ive heard and studied. The reason I write, I do feel bad, I suffer from tons of injuries and other,went OT, then cardio and science…cause injuries I went through. Plus I heard stories. GL!

  9. I just completed my first semester of college(4.0). I had a light stroke/tia 6yrs ago. Since then I suffer with a severe stress disorder. When I am stressed i cannot comprehend the simplest of tasks, i go blank, get totally fatigued, my head roars loudly so I cannot hear well (Meniere’s ear) , then my body temperature raises to the point that sweat runs down my body. I then get extremely sleepy and have to lie down until it passes. I do not take any antidepressant because I do not tolerate meds well. I do take plavix,tenorim (mitral valve/heart racing), nexium(Hiatal hernia)(diverticular disease), 4 baby aspirins, fluid pills and potassium daily. Since the stroke I struggle greatly with my memory and have to read a topic at least 3 times before i can comprehend the subject and understand the directions. I have applied for my ssi in pikevile ky. but was denied twice. they stated that i could do light non-demanding work…so i enrolled in college…Everyday is so stressful because of the demand that i am fatigued all the time. i am single mom,i am divorced (age 49) with one daughter (age 14) Can you help me?

  10. I have worked as a SSD advocate for several years and attending college WILL not just hurt your chances it will, in some instances, make the admin’ Law Judge reviewing your case angry that you are wasting the courts time.
    SS doesn’t just look at your medical disability; it looks at whether you can hold down a job. That includes whether you will lose so many work days due to medical appointments and your illness that you will not be employable. Schools generally will drop you for excessive absences, if you can attend enough school days not to be dropped from your classes then you can work.
    Keep in mind the fact that you will, more than likely, be denied and have to go to the admin hearing level and in most cases it takes 2 1/2 to 3 years for a hearing date.
    C. Miller

  11. I have been on disability 10 years due to seizures. I tried school once and couldn’t handle it. I would like to try again. I’m worried if my doctor sign a form and release me for school they will stop my disability. I have to have the form signed for financial aide. Please e-maul me if anyone know the answer. Thanks

  12. What I am reading here is very discouraging. I am 21 years old with degenerative disc disease and arthritis. I have only very mild pain most days, but every now and then (sometimes out of the blue, sometimes after exerting myself, and sometimes doing something as simple as bending down), I will suddenly have incredible and occasionally debilitating pain. I am taking classes right now but no more than 15 hours of sitting down (a week). Almost the rest of the time I am in bed, since even walking across campus causes pain later in the day, and so I’ve been forced to put the kibosh on most activities, or else I participate and suffer the consequences later. I have taken longer classes before that are almost crippling, that’s how painful it is for me to sit down (no matter if I use padding or not). Sitting longer than 15 minutes causes pain, and standing also ends up aggravating either my DDD or arthritis. To look at me, I (most of the time) seem fine, but I have been dropped from a payroll before for being “out sick” too often (my manager just assumed that continuing to call out sick was my way of quitting). I do miss classes occasionally due to pain, but most of my classes don’t take attendance (so no “proof” there), and I’m not going to go to the doctor every time I need to stay home because my back hurts because it’s a waste of time – I already know what the problem is, I’ve already been prescribed medication that either does nothing or makes me sick, and I’ve tried everything else (acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, “TENS” unit, massage, and a very brief stab at yoga, as the positions we were supposed to maintain even at the beginning level were too painful).

    It’s very frustrating because there are no jobs at my skill/education level that won’t require me to either sit, stand, or pick things up (as part of my job description). And now I’m reading that basically being in college is going to hurt my chances for SSI, when I am in college just so I can gain enough skill/education to work a job that doesn’t rely on what I can do physically. I feel I am too disabled to be reliably employed at a job that will not focus on me sitting, standing, or lifting/carrying things, with only half a college degree under my belt, but that I am not disabled enough to receive any help. Unfortunately it seems that things will stay this way until some miracle procedure comes along to even correct the DDD (the main source of pain for me), or, more realistically, until I’m in too much pain, too often, to function at all.

  13. I started drawing SSD a year ago for Bipolar, Anxiety and depression. I have been told that I can work so many hours a week. But with everything he read I would not be allowed to go back to school.

    I have a criminal background due to my bipolar disorder and it is very hard for me to find a job.

    Can JONATHAN GINSBURG answer this for me????

    m griffith

  14. It is wrong to assume that schools drop students who have excessive absences; they don’t. Colleges and universities are happy just to get your money. And Social Security should be happy that people want the training that will help them become self-sufficient again, or acheive some semblance of self-sufficiency. Professors can accommodate students in ways that employers cannot. And students have control over the types of classes they take and may arrange schedules according to the physical and mental demands of their schooling. So it is a flawed assumption that “if one can go to school, he/she can work”.

    My girlfriend has gotten her SSDI, received her handicapped parking tag and is in thrice-weekly long-term therapy to rehab from spinal injuries she suffered in an auto accident several years ago. SSDI certified her disabled about two years ago after she had been on short-term disability via her employer from the time of the accident.

    She too would like to attend school because her former profession(s) (licensed cosmetologist/hairstylist and makeup artist for a major retailer), which requires a lot of standing, bending and lifting – as well as extensive arm movement – is pretty much out of the question.

    Not only should the government allow disabled persons to attend school, it should subsidize their education, with the understanding that their health is to be reviewed after completing the program. Disabled students should get three years to complete every year of their program. Thus, if someone enrolls in a 4-year program, they should be subject to review (physical evaluation, transcripts, job searches, the whole nine yards) after 13 or 14 years.

    I think that would be a fair trade-off. And disabled persons should not be allowed to pursue any education until they have been on disability for 3-4 years (and should only be allowed to go part-time once they do go to school).

    They should also not be allowed to attempt part-time work until after 3-4 years, but should be allowed to do so risk free, part-time for a year.

    IMHO, the government should be encouraging people to get back to work, not hindering them.

  15. Hello everyone,
    I am in the fight myself to recieve social security benifits for adhd/depression… I was qualified when I filed, but at that time, my parents were in the process of filing bankruptcy and had some of the assetts put in our names… As my case worker was going through the computer to finalize the paperwork, had told me that I had too many assets to qualify for my benefits… Turned out my parents ended not filing for bankruptcy, and I went back 2-3 years later to refile for my benefits and was denied due to substantial gainful work.. I look back at my work history and I’ve had over at least 30 jobs in the past 7 years that have not lasted for more than a year… Yes I tried working while I was denied benefits but who to think that it wouldve disqualified me from any benefits in the future… According to SSI, substantial gainful work is making over $980 in any of the months throughout the year, but my delema is that its not just from one job, but from several that I struggled holding on to while reapplying for my benefits… So I then signed up for College, have basically been living off of student loans to get me through when I would bounce from job to job.. After a while of trying to make it without the aid of social security benefits, my work history had gotton worse and am now in the attempt of filing for the 3rd time, while raising questions that substantial gainful work can be determined by just making over 980 in one month out of 12, would disqualify my case as I was filling out the paperwork… Now Im no expert but is it ethical to believe that substantial gainful work is determined by the amount of money u made in that one month out of the 12 that reports earnings of barely $700 part time… I am now 26 years old with an associates degree in crim/psyc/and soc but have not been able to get employed in the field due to my teenage background checks that only show numerous traffic violations while I was struggling with understanding my condition and how it affects me in the work force… I have now changed majors to a computer repair and maintence, have done an internship with the military, as my sister is a Student IT Specialist and had gotton me a foot in the door with a start of a career… Well when the internship ended and they pull my background, they tell me that I lied on my application by not stating that I was arrested for shoplifting when I was 16 and had to sign a 30 day ban and could only come back on post when accompanied by an adult… I failed to mension that only because I was 16 and all that happened was that I signed a 30 day suspension notice and had my id taken away… This was just last year in 2009 trying to make a life without the help of Social security but has led me to file for a 3rd time… I have called many attourneys to review my prior case that had me initially qualified and compare it to today where certain aspects of my condition have improved as far as keepin a job for more than 6 months but have not lasted for more than a year… I am currectly raising questions as my wife gets SSI but only the supplemental disability which I didnt know there were 2 different types of benefits til my wife came along… Shes unable to work at all due to her condition but can only qualify for SSI not SSD due to not enough work credits… I get to thinking about that and isnt that what Im facing right now is because i chose to try and work with my condition but have had little to no luck keeping a job for more than 1 year… 8 years and 30 jobs later, here I am goin on my 3rd attempt while still trying to make ends meet with the economy the way it is and now have pretty much given up on even fighting for the benefits when I see that they frown upun even trying to make a life with the situation at hand… The only reason Im trying to apply for my benefits as long as I have waited since 2004 til now, with my work history fluxuating from year to year and finding out that even grossing a monthly check of 980 reguardless of how many jobs Ive had since I was 16, I wouldnt want anyone to go through life having to find a different job every year… I mean I was doin half way good when I look at this last year where I stayed in one job for 9 months but only grossed 6,500 for that year and I look at the annual limits for the ssd qualifications and look at my yearly taxes since I was 16 and only 2 years out of the 10 that Ive been working have grossed maybe $200 more than the qualifyin annual limit… I can only hope that the attourneys that will be handling my 3rd attempt for help can convince the judge that substantially gainful work should be at a consistancy and not just that 1 month out of the entire year from working overtime during the summer because you have a family to support despite that my condition interferes with my job performance but at least I can still come home feeling like maybe just maybe, it might get better……..

  16. I just attended my hearing for disability after a two year wait and I won my case. My disability is Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Disorder, and depression. I have been attending college for the past five years and I have only 17 credits left until graduation. I have also had a few jobs. Since starting school, I have had several medical withdrawals, many dropped classes, and some bad grades. This is from missing too many days of class. This has helped to prove my condition. Going to school is not at all like working a job, at least in my situation. In response to Cherie Miller, who said ” Schools generally will drop you for excessive absences, if you can attend enough school days not to be dropped from your classes then you can work”, teachers do not care how many days of school you miss, you simply get the grade you deserve. I assume this topic is about college for adults, not junior high! I am not going to simply give up on life and do nothing. Nobody should feel like they have to do that in order to get the help they need. This thread has been rather discouraging and full of misinformation. Disabled people should look elsewhere on the web and not take people’s opinions as fact. There is always hope for a better life if you are grateful for what you already have.

  17. Sorry for the long post, but want to put this out there.
    I am on SSI for ADHD/Learning disabilities, anxiety and other secondary conditions. In my mid 20’s I did go to college about 2 years after becoming approved, but shortly after dropped because I gradually started attending classes less and less due to my condition. At the same time I was also attending a woman’s group therapy through Mental Health for dual diagnosis formed for Native women with mental disorders who were also in recovery from addiction/alcoholism. Let me tell you that I also have a criminal background involved around drugs…I dealt drugs in a way to support my own habit then and was convicted and did prison time twice between 1990 and 1993. I have been clean and sober since February 1993.
    We ADHD folks do not handle stress well and for me anyways, not only was school pressure enough, but normal everyday issues that most people can get through is for me (and for most with ADHD a completely different ballgame. Trying to do school and then trying to function at home was just causing me even greater anxiety and what I call my ‘ADD moments’ was just out of control….rage attacks, mania attacks, and more times than I can count, I did really stupid things like forgetting I had money folded up in a cigarette pack and tossing it out in the garbage…lost $100 once doing that and found myself the next day diving into the dumpster outside a Baskin & Robbins looking through 4′ of trash to find it (I found it though!), ONLY after losing my mind the entire day racking my brain about what I could have done with that money! Making a trip to the store for grocery shopping should be a simple thing, but every time it turns into a fiasco because too much is happening. What should have taken maybe a half hour winds up turning into 2 hours! That sort of stuff is just and example of what us with severe cases of ADHD live with day in and day out. Many times after these trips to town the rest of the day and into the next day I am completely mentally and physically exhausted. I don’t want to do anything and literally have to drag myself around, but most times I hardly get out of bed. Anything that causes changes in my daily routine, like getting ready to move or something trivial like having my better half announce company coming over at the last minute will cause me to panic and then I spend the next week or so trying to level back out again into some kind of normalcy. It really burns me when I hear people who know nothing about this disorder speak about it like it’s no big deal. I invite you to live just 1 month in my world and then you can tell me that. There are so many other issues, mentally and emotionally, that surround adults with ADHD that started way back when in childhood. It impedes the way we function now as adults in the work field and with our relationships with other people.

    I did finally go back to school again in 2004 to study Greenhouse/nursery Management and although I did struggle a whole lot I did manage to graduate. I really thought I could try to once and for all get into the work field and I really wanted that for myself. It is no easy thing to live on SSI when the money runs out by the 10th of the month. Once I graduated however, the reality finally hit me. It’s just one more time I’ve gotten some idea into my head without really thinking it through. No way in hell was any employer going to offer me the same courtesy my professors extended to me. My professors were well aware of my disability because I was enrolled through the Students with Disabilities office. On a personal level I also had a working relationship with them because I had laid it all out that there would be times that I was going to probably not make class for the fact that I often needed “wellness” days and I didn’t take advantage of it or take it for granted. As for my studies I had the benefit of the services offered to students with disabilities: time and a half on tests/exams, testing in a separate room without distractions, note takers and tape recorders, etc., etc. I even made it on the honor roll a few times and that was a huge boost to my self-confidence….it was also part of my dilution that maybe I could really go to work. Right. There is no employer in the world that is going to be OK with me taking my wellness days as often as I would need them. That and I already know how frustrated they get with me having to ask what it was they had told me to do. If they give me a list of things to do that day, I will forget 3 out of the 5 orders given me. Most of the time in these situations, I am too embarrassed to repeatedly need reminding. I often am forgetting what I am being told as it is being told to me…it makes me look like a complete idiot. I am 40 years old and I haven’t had many jobs. I’ve had enough to know though that I’ve been fired for not being able to keep up with co-workers. Then I get frustrated because I’m being constantly told I’m doing something wrong or am too slow. When that happens, I perform even worse. On top of all things I didn’t even take in to consideration that I couldn’t even drive a car until about 2 months before graduation! I am living 30 from the edge of town (about 50 miles from the school) and at the time I had my ex picking me up and taking me to school everyday. So learning how to drive was just another big idea I had, telling myself I was going to learn so I could take myself back and forth from work. 6 years later and I still have not been able to learn how to drive!! This part of the disorder is where my impulsiveness shows itself….I made an impulsive decision to go to school based on learning that they had a good disability program that would help me get through it without real thought for just how I was going to have the mental capability to actually go to work once I graduated, no less not having the ability to drive a car. I’m completely dependent on other people for rides when I need to get to town, but thanks to the internet I can order 1x a month mostly all of my household items from with their free shipping and that cuts out a big problem of needing to arrange rides 1x a month.

    I also know some of the frustration that Steven is going through. My fiance also has ADHD, learning disabilities, depression and so on. We tried to get him on SSI and started the whole ball game with an online application. A few months following that he was sent into town for testing. I didn’t go with him, but he came how so upset because the people that were supposed to be testing hardly did a darn thing. All together it lasted all of 1 hour if that! Now when I went in for my testing all these years ago, it lasted about 5 hours! My testing was very extensive, but all they did with him was ask him to repeat some numbers backwards and have him put some pictures in sequence. There was not much discussion about his condition. He said the lady was much more concerned with the Swine Flu and was rushed to get him out of the office. Much of the decision to deny him was based on those results and the sustainable employment deal that Steven spoke on..apparently he had made $980 on one pay check and had only worked for the company less than 6 mos. None of the jobs he had was ever more than one year and he was either fired for bad performance or he quit from frustration . He doesn’t have any kind of “paper trail” which is the bad thing. He didn’t know he could go through DSHS for mental health issues and we live over 30 miles from any kind of resources and have no transportation.

  18. I have received SSI while attending college. Full time. It is some what of a hard thing to do, and i understand why judges would deny people. However it matters how much medical evidence you have. I had a stack of medical evidence. I actually got denied two times. Then my attorney appealed it while awaiting to see a judge, and i got approved. I wish very surprised.

    I have been told that it is very hard to get approval from this appeal process while awaiting to see a judge. if they are not 100 percent positive the judge would do the same thing. So its pretty weird.

    Just FYI. I had MPNST, in 2005. Had a 28 surgery that totally reconstructed my lower back, and i have nerve damage. spinal fusion. Spinal fusion broke in 2007, had anther surgery to fix it. (s1 to l4).
    Then it broke again.
    They took a wait an see approach. My back got progressively worse and worse.
    Had anther surgery in Dec. They found out i had a massive infection so they could not do nothing. Had to be put on IV anti-biotics.
    Then i hear 2 months later i got approved.
    I had to have anther major surgery in July. Two of them actually.

    I know the government wants to stop abuse. However it makes getting even SSI so difficult when I needed it.

    Good luck to everyone who is in the process.
    Of trying to get it.

    I am hoping to be off of SSI. in 3 years, when i can get a good paying desk job. (in finance , or accounting, or economics)

  19. @Tina: Tina, I am on dialysis and have been receiving ssdi for 5 years. I got a Bachelors degree through distance learning (made the dean’s list) while disabled – I just received my mfa in creative writing degree in June – it was a brief residency program that allowed me to do my writing at home and send it via email to my professors. You need to make sure you communicate with the disability resource center at the college / university you wish to attend – let them know you have a disability and ways in which your disability limits you – then discuss what allowances (including extra time for tests and assignments) you need and whether or not those allowances are offered by the school in compliance with ada (americans with disabilities act) regulations – they will provide you with a letter stating what allowances they’ve made for you which you can give to your professors – keep a copy for yourself and place in a file with any and all communications you have with school staff and faculty about your limitations and what you need to complete your assignments. I will be starting a second masters degree – an online program later this month. Many of these programs allow you to log on any time of day or night and you can do your homework any time of day or night (at your convenience). Of course there will be deadlines – but many schools will allow an extension of those deadlines for students with disabilities (mine did). I did my writing in small increments throughout the day and stopped to rest or nap as needed – there is no job (even part time) that will allow you to do your work in this manner – thats the difference between working and attending school. There were days (many of them) when I did nothing but rest and do a little reading. IT IS POSSIBLE. People with disabilities have just as much right to continue learning as everyone else.

  20. hello, I’m on SSD for social anxiety disorder. Just recently I became interested in obtaining a degree in web design from an online college. I’m definitely going to need to apply for federal student aid in order to take the courses. Is this allowed or will they take away my ssd? I’m trying to get some form of education in case I ever manage to overcome my disorder. thanks for all the help. -tony

  21. I was diagnosed w/ C.P soon after birth and recieved years of Speech therapy, Occu.and Phys. Therapies. I am not showing major deficits as an adult but have pain in feet.and hands. And not active like others my age,causing weight gain etc.
    I have LD in Math, spelling and writting! I have ADD but refused to take rx after bad reactions. Just agreed to try rx again. Also same for rx. for M.H. depression, sleep disorder,
    Bipolar and ODD. Have stayed on sleeping aid but that is all.

    With lots of help I passed task test 2nd time and made good grades in HS and now in College
    but i get lots of accomodations and have a personal aid also. Live on campus so I stay on campus almost all the time and all meals and dishes are done for me. I also have grandma’s help 24/7. I dont tell anyone how difficult my life is! I even argue that I can do more than I can because it’s embarasing. I am smart. Have very high verbal but no math/spatial/skills.
    Can’t write eligably and if more than 10 min lots of pain! Pain standing from ankles even pain sitting from tailbone injury not documented. Like Previous writer said I cant expect to wk like this but can own my busines and have assistants/receptionist. I dont do well with peers but can be nice to clients who respect me and pay me. I will be paying staff they will not trash me-be rude like a job or school is.
    I am reapplying for ssdi- as an adult What are my chances?
    I wk hard selecting good,easy prof.and sched. And got good gpa becuase I took classes that were non credit/ classes that I enjoy,classes Im good at. I don’t know if I will pass math and more difficult classes especially in timely manor. I also need to be acepted to grad school. I plan on being a sp. therapist myself. IF I get accpted to grad school do I loose ssdi- ss. knows my plans so they will be watching I’m shure. If I loose ss I also loose pers. care attendant. I relly cant handle school and life w/o an aid even though I look nice, and talk well. It’s becuase of aids that I do so well.

  22. I was injured in the army and rated 20% for cervical spine and thoracic/lumbar spine by the Army. I was diagnosed with adjustment disorder but not rated by the Army. Since out of service, I have had more exams with civilian doctors as to the extent of my injuries. I have developed severe sleep apnea which requires CPAP. I take loads of narcotics and other medications including medicine for major depressive disorder. I have severe pain and mobility issues. I am despondent to the point of having suicidal thoughts and the medications only make me less functional (as in tired) but I am in too much severe pain without them. I am in the middle of a VA claim for all of this.

    My query is I am also a full-time student on the G.I. Bill because it is the only way I can pay rent and feed my family with the financial aid. I cannot physically work. I have been told by the local VFW I should file a SS disability claim. I cannot quit school but I am able to show that I have been suspended from financial aid twice; I have had to take “Incompletes” in different classes for the last three semesters and although I am trying to get caught up (in order to get my financial aid reinstated), it is an uphill battle. I may or may not be able to graduate. Would my ability to demonstrate this through school records make a difference in your opinion about going to school while filing a claim?

    Another question, after leaving the Army, I drew the maximum 99 weeks of unemployment and received a waiver from work searches due to school. I have been off unemployment now for about 6 months so basically I haven’t worked since September of 2009 and my service in the Army was just over a year with some work but a long stint of unemployment before that. It is my belief that I will only be eligible for SSI. I read that if you worked for a federal agency, that you may be eligible for Medicare even if you are not eligible for regular Social Security Disability but does that apply to military service?

    Thank you for any information you may have concerning my situation.

  23. I should have added that I was recently diagnosed with COPD (not a smoker) but my new doctor wants to retest me.

  24. hi I have been on ssdi since 2008 post car accident in 2006=brachial plexus nerve inj rt arm, neck, back pain, sever enough i went from 255 lbs to 105 due t the pain,after 2 years and 5 drs i had surg, found out i actually had a torn rotatr cuff and sever impigment rt shoulder after dr fixed it i developed crps, i now also have sever panic/anxiet attacks and have tremors, this month im having a spinal cord stim implant, i would like to know if i can attend college for rn degree 18 mnths, ive been in med field for 20 years, im nt sure if i can do this but want to try. now would this fall under the ticket to work program 60 mnths to have a full nine months , i dnt want t lose my benefits and i am scared as i would be moving out of calif to nevada. and what about applying for financial aid, ging to a vr, im very cnfused and dont want to get up and move and be with out a thing! If i tried my job now i wouldnt be making enough to pay rent here in calif and want t try and better myself so i dont have to go on ssdi and be able t pay my rent, so many web sites say yes or no and i really need t know what steps t take i want to be a great citizen and not on ssdi, so culd i go too schl if i do the ticket to work?

    thank you

  25. I just filed for disability and hope to receive my benifits. I have worked for over 20 years and have been in college the last year almost fulltime, but the classes are online which means I can lie down when I need to and I have a week to slowly work on my assignments. I can not sit in class due to my back getting to inflamed and my legs going numb. I hope I will not be denied due to this.

  26. due to my various conditions and ptsd and anxiety disorder, memory and more and on 4 meds. I stopped working in 2010 but did not file disability until 2012 due to being in denial and it was my brother whom helped me due to he saw what was going on so I have not worked since 2010 but was seeing doctors for help since 2009 till this present of 2013 now my question is since I have not worked in 3 years but I attempted in 2012 to try to go to college to see if I can cope again but after less than 2 weeks of school and more panic attacks and fear I had to stop and got 3 fs in the 3 classes due to I could not take it now my question is since after 3 years of not woking but tried going to school will this hurt my case at hearing even though my doctors said i cannot work but will this hurt me even though it was less then 2 week

    1. Monica, I think that your two week, unsuccessful attempt to attend school will not hurt your case because you were not able to continue. The unsuccessful attempt may actually help you by showing that you are motivated to do something substantial but that when you actually tried, you could not sustain that activity.

  27. One other thing is how do I show that it was 2 weeks because I have my grades of Fs and my report that said If I wanted to continue I would have to come and talk to someone due to my grades failed and again thanks for the help this is just been so stressful not being able to even go to school and finish

  28. Dear Sir:

    Retired from teaching early at age 55 due to continuing pain and problems bending right foot. Was an excellent teacher and loved my job. Worked in the same school for almost 25 years. Could have continued working for 5 or 7 more years. Now, I cannot work and have not worked for almost 2 years. I have a couple of torn discs and protruding discs in my lower back. I have other problems with developing stenosis in lumbar spine, and my lower right leg and foot just won’t work properly when I walk…very painful too. I’m taking Gabapentin right now for pain. My neurologist prescribed it. Late in the day, after bending over at times, I have toe drop on my right side. Under care of neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon now. Do not know what my RFC is bc I’m afraid to ask. I was denied for SSDI on initial consideration and again at the reconsideration phase. Have filed to see a judge in downtown Atlanta. Waiting in line now to see a judge. Don’t know which judge I will get. Initial filing was in Feb. 2013. Denied in late March 2013. Filed for reconsideration immediately, and I was denied again in late September 2013. I have a graduate degree in education/English. Worked in education as a teacher for over 30 years. Worked while I was young and in college at a bank and in retail. Worked in high school also as a clerk in a pharmacy, as a waitress, at Six Flags, and I babysat. Except for babysitting in high school, I paid into SS all those years.

    I’ll be 57 in about 6 months. But what concerns me is my education level. A friend of mine said I would have to be dying or over 60 to even have a chance of getting SSDI with a college degree. I’m frightened. With lots of medication, I might be able to work 16 or 18 hours a week. Right now I’m living off my pension, but it is about 27000 less per year than I had planned on living on at this stage if my life.

    I’m a nice person, and I’m used to working for and with the government, their strict requirements and paperwork, but I’ve never encountered an agency quite like the SSA before. My experience with them has been a horrible one so far. And I’ve not been ugly nor have I challenged anyone at all. However, they have been rude, they have minimized and even mocked my descriptions of my disability, and the people I’ve takes with over the phone have been out and out wrong on many occasions when they have tried to answer questions for me. They are indifferent and have basically said they believe I can go back to teaching as it is described I the DOT.

    Help please. Will a college degree hurt my chance of receiving SSDI? I completed my last graduate degree in education in the early 2000s. I’m not enrolled in school anywhere at the present time.

    Also, I’m to see a neurosurgeon soon, per recommendation from a rheumatologist who did extensive blood testing and could not find anything wrong with me such as inflammation, RA, lupus, etc. she is now convinced it is a mechanical problem with my lower back as per the MRI results and nothing more. Two doctors have told me to hold off on surgery…one did not say why. However, that doctor tends to be conservative in his approach. The other doctor says she does not like the odds…most back surgeries are not like other surgeries in that they are often not as successful. Surgery on the spine is complex, she says, and up to 50 percent of surgeries are either unsuccessful or offer no long term relief. So, my second question to you is, If the neurosurgeon recommends surgery and I decide not to have the surgery right now, will that hurt my odds of getting SSDI?

    Oh, and this May or may not be relevant, but I was married once in my lifetime for 16 years. I never remarried. My ex husband died suddenly in July of 2012. (I had to quit teaching due to pain in May of 2012.) my ex husband earned less over the years than I did by almost half. Thank you for any answers and help you can give me with this matter.


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