The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The fifth and final step in claim adjudication assesses your ability to adjust to any other type of work. At this stage, your age and level of education factor into your disability status.
Knowing how the SSA assesses these two factors will help you better understand the complex SSD application process.
How is age considered by the SSA?
Your age partially determines your ability to adjust to other work, although it is not the sole factor considered. The SSA considers advancing age a limiting factor. For example, if you are approaching an advanced age (around age 50-54), the SSA views this, along with limited work experience and a severe impairment, as seriously impacting your ability to adjust to other work. If you are age 55 or older, your age significantly affects your potential adjustment to new work.
How does education factor into SSD qualification?
Your education is another way that affects how the SSA assesses the extent to which you can adjust to other work. Your years of schooling, completion of trade or vocational school or certifications for special job training all factor into how you may adjust to new work.
Additionally, if you do not have formal education, then the SSA considers strong evidence how your educational achievement is higher or lower than the last school grade you completed. Limited English communication ability and illiteracy both limit your future work ability.
If you recently graduated from a program that trained you for a skilled field, the SSA will classify you as not disabled. This is especially true if you are mentally and physically able to do the type of work the education prepared you for.
Overall, your SSD claim outcome results from the complete assessment of your work experience, age, physical ability and level of education.