I recently had a potential client come to see me about the possibility of applying for Social Security disability even though she is currently in college. After practicing in this field of law for about a decade, this was actually the first time I have ever been confronted with this question of qualifying for disability while attending college. I’d never thought about it before. I have spent a few days thinking about it and researching it, and I am still not certain I have a great answer, but I think I have decided to take her case because in my estimation this young woman is most certainly disabled under the law. The problem is that Social Security sees things in black and white. They’ll wonder how someone can attend college if that same person is unable to work. That’s a valid question. I think I have a simple answer. While my client is in college, she is certainly no longer able to work at the jobs she has had in the past due to the fact that she can’t stand up and walk around any longer. She may be able to attend college, but she certainly can’t perform her past relevant work (which is what Social Security looks at). As such, at least for now, until she is able to get a job allowing her to sit behind a desk, which takes more education and training than she currently has, I would argue that she is disabled. She can’t work. I would think Social Security should look fondly at her attempt to go to college, to improve her qualifications for future employment. Once she gets a degree and can get a “sit down” job, then sure, she shouldn’t receive disability, but in the meantime, she should be rewarded for trying to better herself. Without disability income she will soon be out of money, and with a child, will soon be unable to pay for college, and then she may have to be on disability for life. That’s an argument anyway. I think I’m going to go for it. If I lose I don’t get paid a dime, but I think it’s worth a shot. It should further be noted that she does not attend school full time due to her limitations.
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