Many people in America never consider of their education as a privilege. Although it is an ingrained right to every citizen, some people may not be educated due to many unavoidable circumstances such as insufficient resources, disease, sickness, family business such as farmers or abusive childhoods such as trafficking or parents not letting the child go to school.
Some disability applicants, although older come to us with no disease but an inability to get jobs to support themselves due to illiteracy or not enough education. Even when these people could perform some king of work in ‘undemanding jobs’, it may not be enough for them to run the household or care for a child (if any).
Most of these type of applicants do not possess high school diplomas, cannot read or write or cannot even communicate in English such as immigrants from urban towns of Europe since world war II.
When considering an applicant’s claim, the first step of the SSA examiner is to look for ‘medical disabilities’. If the claimant does not meet the list of impairments, the SSA would look further to see if the applicant’s physical health prohibits them from performing sufficient work. The SSA would calculate the claimant’s residual functional capacity to see whether they fit into the category of disabled.
Educational levels of claimants
These are the most common educational levels used by the SSA to decide a person’s capability in RFC:
Limited or little education;
If the claimant attended school up to the grades between 7th and 11th grade, the SSA labels their education as limited. A person with limited educational background will have some skills such as reasoning, math ability and language skills but do not possess the necessary qualifications to gain a full time job. For instance, a 54 year old man was granted disability benefits on his claims on arthritis and insufficient education. Though he worked prior to the arthritis in a marble factory, his disability and illiteracy now made it impossible to gain a standard job to fulfill his needs.
Mediocre or marginal;
If the claimant’s did not study further than grade 6, their education level is defined as marginal by the SSA. A person with marginal education can only perform in unskilled jobs.
Illiterate or no education;
A claimant with no education or an ability to read or write anything let alone their own name are considered as illiterate by the SSA. Although an illiterate person can find work in sedentary jobs or ‘undemanding fields’ such as coal mines, crane drivers etc, the illiteracy combined with some kind of minor disability such as lumbar pain makes it impossible for them to perform work.
Unable to speak or communicate in English;
Since English is the national and official language in the US, almost every job requires a person to be able to speak English to be able to perform at work. A claimant unable to read, write or speak in English may be considered for disability benefits by the SSA but it doesn’t guarantee that their claim would always be approved.
The SSA would look into how far the claimant went to school, their educational levels and high school grades, teacher’s remarks (if any) etc. If the claimant was a special child, it would be necessary to be able to provide documental proof to the SSA that the child attended a special education program.
This is just an overview of how a limited or no education may enable a person to claim disability benefits. You can consult a professional disability attorney for more guidance.