Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Is a high level of education disqualifying for SSI/SSDI?

Title mostly speaks for itself. I hold a doctoral level degr mazatec09/28/18
The most important factor is really age. If you are under 50 dcm198309/28/18
That's not quite accurate. The 50/55 age distinction is more finklebots09/28/18
Is PT work considered SGA? mazatec09/29/18
It's not about the number of hours you work but the amount o onehell10/03/18
"The most important factor is really age." Ahh, I'm way y mazatec09/28/18
You really need formal opinions of total disability by PsY M finklebots09/28/18
Yes, I've received outpatient treatment from numerous treatm mazatec09/28/18
Advise them you want to apply for disability and see if they finklebots09/28/18
Do SSDI attorneys charge on a contingency fee basis? mazatec09/29/18
This is a joke right? Again, use your degree for JD preferre fuckyouracists09/30/18
I’m unable to work mazatec10/01/18
but you are clerking for a judge who has asked you back for blackholelaw10/01/18
Yes that’s true but the clerkship runs out in August 2019 mazatec10/01/18
If you can do a clerkship, you can do a job. johnsmith10/01/18
Is your longest treating therapist still your mother? isthisit09/29/18
My mother isn't treating me. I'm being treated by others bu mazatec09/29/18
You'll never be cured but your condition can be lessened and isthisit09/29/18
Cured as in not experiencing any symptoms while under treatm mazatec09/29/18
Oh fer cryin' out loud. wutwutwut09/28/18
Opal, you have a full-time job. Why on earth would you be di downwardslope09/29/18
Haha, she "was told by people online" (i.e.,a confabulation wutwutwut09/29/18
Downwardslope,I won’t have that job after August 2019. mazatec09/29/18
Lose weight and start selling companionship. That's a jo isthisit09/29/18
*cough cough,* coco, *cough cough.* kappel10/03/18
You have to understand SSA 5 step analysis: 1. Are you wo onehell10/01/18
Great read onehell fuckyouracists10/01/18
Did you do this sort of work when you were at legal aid? mazatec10/03/18
Yup, sure did, among many other things. We didn't have units onehell10/03/18
On the one hand, you're stating you're fit for practice and loser1210/03/18
I was kind of wondering when your patience was going to run wutwutwut10/03/18
It's the playing both sides element of it that annoyed me, n loser1210/03/18
Yep. See my 1st comment in thread. wutwutwut10/03/18
I feel like I'm fit to be an attorney, but people online tol mazatec10/03/18
I have family members who didn't qualify for disability paym loser1210/03/18
My aunt had a tumor bigger than her lung and was denied. She fuckyouracists10/03/18
Maybe if she shmeared more lipstick on more walls, and he ha loser1210/03/18
Well I’m not getting personal. I like Opal. It’s just be fuckyouracists10/03/18
I mean, if multiple attorneys on here say that I don't have mazatec10/03/18
"attorneys on here say that..." Even if we decide, arguen wutwutwut10/04/18
All jobs involve some kind of stress/pressure. It comes with mazatec10/04/18
Is this a serious post? Or are you just trolling? As a law c thirdtierlaw10/04/18
I didn't say all jobs are equal stress. A Judge's job is mu mazatec10/04/18
How old is your uncle? If over 50, that should be a good cas johnsmith10/03/18
63. Id think so but didn’t work out his way so far. fuckyouracists10/03/18
Careful about the pole. We already had one legendary poster kappel10/03/18
I've worked for the past several years as a disability lawye catwoman33310/06/18
"If you are able to spend MONTHS on end, reading and bloggin mazatec10/06/18
MOST people with VIABLE claims do not LIVE on the boards as catwoman33310/08/18
Sounds like you don't have much experience with psych cases, onehell10/10/18
Why are people even getting into this? The OP is working. Fu downwardslope10/10/18
Oh well if there's SGA then that's the end of matters absolu onehell10/10/18
She has been doing a judicial clerkship since last August or downwardslope10/10/18
You will be denied based on the facts provided. However, if billcarson10/07/18
Why couldn't you could get a job at Costco checking customer legaleagle22310/10/18
Wut?? You think they just hand out those jobs to just any wutwutwut10/11/18

mazatec (Sep 28, 2018 - 10:34 pm)

Title mostly speaks for itself. I hold a doctoral level degree (JD). I have numerous psychiatric disabilities. I was told by people online that working any job that involves any modicum of stress is out of the question for me.

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dcm1983 (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:00 pm)

The most important factor is really age. If you are under 50, then your mental disability has to be very extreme to get ssdi. There are plenty of low stress (and low pay) light-medium level jobs you could do. Without repeat inpatient hospitalizations, you would not likely be found disabled unless you are age 55 or older. With that said...a lot depends on your judge. They are all over the place and you could wind up with a crazy generous judge. When the disability is mental, ssa looks more at what you can physically do. Education is more important when the only disabilities are physical.

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finklebots (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:12 pm)

That's not quite accurate. The 50/55 age distinction is more important for the residual function capacity tables insofar as it affects your ability to do physical labor. If you're applying on the basis of mental disability alone, treating phychiatrist opinions carry more weight than age, IMO. Do you have any physical issues?

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mazatec (Sep 29, 2018 - 4:47 pm)

Is PT work considered SGA?

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onehell (Oct 3, 2018 - 2:52 pm)

It's not about the number of hours you work but the amount of money you earn. For 2018, that number is $1,180/mo.

https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/sga.html

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mazatec (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:25 pm)

"The most important factor is really age."

Ahh, I'm way younger than 50. But my disability is quite extreme-I faced significant disciplinary action in school for outlandish behavior, withdrew twice, failed multiple classes, etc.; there was also one overnight hospitalization in 2014. I've been told numerous times that I'm not fit to work, should focus only on treatment, etc.

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finklebots (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:32 pm)

You really need formal opinions of total disability by PsY MD(s) that have treated you for a significant amount of time. One overnight hospitalization ain't going to cut it.

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mazatec (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:37 pm)

Yes, I've received outpatient treatment from numerous treatment providers (MDs, LCSWs, psychologists, etc.) since 2006.

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finklebots (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:39 pm)

Advise them you want to apply for disability and see if they'll agree to recommend it.

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mazatec (Sep 29, 2018 - 10:34 am)

Do SSDI attorneys charge on a contingency fee basis?

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fuckyouracists (Sep 30, 2018 - 9:59 am)

This is a joke right? Again, use your degree for JD preferred. How you get that position is not my problem. We’ve done it. It’s possible. Find a way. Your poasting history is why you can’t handle practice as you cannot handle your own anxiety. Do something a little easier where you’re not in Court. This ain’t difficult. The fact that you can’t grasp this is the problem. But SSI is an absolute joke as you’re able bodied. Seriously dude.

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mazatec (Oct 1, 2018 - 7:49 am)

I’m unable to work

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blackholelaw (Oct 1, 2018 - 9:46 am)

but you are clerking for a judge who has asked you back for a second term?

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mazatec (Oct 1, 2018 - 2:07 pm)

Yes that’s true but the clerkship runs out in August 2019 and I’ll not be working after that.

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johnsmith (Oct 1, 2018 - 2:45 pm)

If you can do a clerkship, you can do a job.

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isthisit (Sep 29, 2018 - 2:07 pm)

Is your longest treating therapist still your mother?

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mazatec (Sep 29, 2018 - 2:47 pm)

My mother isn't treating me. I'm being treated by others but they haven't cured me.

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isthisit (Sep 29, 2018 - 2:54 pm)

You'll never be cured but your condition can be lessened and eventually managed.

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mazatec (Sep 29, 2018 - 3:02 pm)

Cured as in not experiencing any symptoms while under treatment.

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wutwutwut (Sep 28, 2018 - 11:20 pm)

Oh fer cryin' out loud.

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downwardslope (Sep 29, 2018 - 7:52 am)

Opal, you have a full-time job. Why on earth would you be disabled?

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wutwutwut (Sep 29, 2018 - 8:02 am)

Haha, she "was told by people online" (i.e.,a confabulation of comments here and (likely) some others in response to 79 reddit posts seeking affirmation).

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mazatec (Sep 29, 2018 - 8:31 am)

Downwardslope,I won’t have that job after August 2019.

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isthisit (Sep 29, 2018 - 9:20 am)

Lose weight and start selling companionship.

That's a job so easy you can do it on your back!

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kappel (Oct 3, 2018 - 9:37 pm)

*cough cough,* coco, *cough cough.*

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onehell (Oct 1, 2018 - 1:58 pm)

You have to understand SSA 5 step analysis:

1. Are you working and earning at least the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level of approx. 1k/mo? If yes, not disabled
2. Is your impairment severe enough to interfere with work? (If no, not disabled)
3. Do you meet a listing (specific chart-based medical findings that make you automatically disabled, e.g. a severity level of depression or a vision level that qualifies as blind)
4. Can you still do prior work within your residual functional capacity (RFC)?
5. If you can't do your old work, could you do other work within your RFC of light, medium, sedentary etc? (Google "SSA grids" for a representation of how this step works)

Almost everyone with a confirmed diagnosis who is not actively working passes steps 1 and 2. Education comes in at steps 4 and 5, and particularly 5, where they say "OK, you're 50 years old and your disability limits you to sedentary work. With no education and a work history of entirely unskilled labor which you can no longer do, you're disabled. But if you could do a sedentary job because you have enough education for one, then a limitation to sedentary work is not disabling. Similarly, under 50 you could be expected to go back to school and learn to do something sedentary, so not disabled.

Basically, if your impairment is physical, doesn't meet a listing, and you're under 50, you're screwed unless so uneducated as to be essentially illiterate or unable to communicate in English. Similarly, someone with a graduate degree probably couldn't be found disabled "on the grids" at any age unless so disabled that they couldn't even do sedentary work.

But needless to say, psychological impairments don't fit into a normal RFC analysis because they don't create physical limitations. So usually, you are trying to meet a listing. If you meet a listing, residual functional capacity doesn't matter, vocational experts don't matter, all that matters is what the medical record says.

Take a look, for example, at the listing for depression:

https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_04

Look particularly at 12.04C: Can you show medical records of being in treatment at least 2 years and that say that despite all this treatment you get, you still have only "minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life?" If yes, automatically disabled.

Pretty vague, isn't it? Not like a precise visual acuity level that would constitute blindness. The primary angle with psych cases is to get medical records that meet a listing like this one. Since you haven't reached the later steps in which you engage in RFC analysis, education doesn't matter when your argument is that you meet a listing.

Most people don't win at the earlier stages, but a few years later when you finally get to ALJ hearing, there's a pretty good success rate with psych cases because the listing is more art than science, if you can just get the psychiatrists to write the "right" things in your chart and your lawyer or disability advocate knows where those things are and can point to them.

Back when I did these, I won several cases this way. "Your honor, we don't need VE testimony, it's irrelevant because physical limitations are not being alleged. My client meets listing 12.04 and the following records show that he does. Thus, we do not reach steps 4 or 5 of the analysis; upon meeting a listing, the analysis proceeds no further."

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fuckyouracists (Oct 1, 2018 - 5:03 pm)

Great read onehell

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mazatec (Oct 3, 2018 - 9:32 am)

Did you do this sort of work when you were at legal aid?

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onehell (Oct 3, 2018 - 12:37 pm)

Yup, sure did, among many other things. We didn't have units or specialties, everyone handled anything and everything that a poor person might encounter, the only exceptions being criminal cases and most immigration matters due to federal funding restrictions.

SSI and SSDI are public benefits and as such, they're core to legal aid's mission. If there's a significant earnings history, then such SSDI cases can generate private fees paid out of retro checks. We weren't trying to compete with anyone doing it in private practice so we tried to stay away from those/refer them out to solos who want the business, but cases where it was "pure SSI" or where there was only minimal SSDI we saw plenty of, cases where the disability was psychological particularly so.

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loser12 (Oct 3, 2018 - 4:53 pm)

On the one hand, you're stating you're fit for practice and should be an attorney (a profession that requires a high degree of mental stability). On the other, you state you need disability because you are too unstable to work any job.

This is like a lithium induced Hamlet rendition: "To be or not to be?" If you need attention this badly, go take drama classes or work a pole.

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wutwutwut (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:19 pm)

I was kind of wondering when your patience was going to run out.

Now I know: Oct 3, 2018 - 4:53 pm.

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loser12 (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:24 pm)

It's the playing both sides element of it that annoyed me, not the paranoia about c&f, which I empathize with. Attention-seeking behavior and hypocrisy are pet peeves.

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wutwutwut (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:26 pm)

Yep. See my 1st comment in thread.

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mazatec (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:27 pm)

I feel like I'm fit to be an attorney, but people online told me I'm not and that I shouldn't bother with anything remotely stress-inducing.

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loser12 (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:34 pm)

I have family members who didn't qualify for disability payments with ailments that preclude them from walking or using their hands for weeks at a time. You're not delusional. You're just self absorbed and do weird crap. Stop doing weird crap. Problem solved.

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fuckyouracists (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:56 pm)

My aunt had a tumor bigger than her lung and was denied. She worked her entire life beforehand. My uncle is a roofer with no discs. He just lost his appeal. Better buck up, old sport. Just saying.

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loser12 (Oct 3, 2018 - 5:58 pm)

Maybe if she shmeared more lipstick on more walls, and he harassed more people.

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fuckyouracists (Oct 3, 2018 - 6:01 pm)

Well I’m not getting personal. I like Opal. It’s just beyond me at this point. Do it or don’t do it. The horse has been beaten into the ground so far and with such deep impact that it is in the process of becoming a blood diamond or some of that sweet, sweet oil. No one knows the answer. Have to make a move at this point. Ain’t going to be easy but tis life.

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mazatec (Oct 3, 2018 - 11:00 pm)

I mean, if multiple attorneys on here say that I don't have the restraint, temperament, etc. for the legal profession, isn't that a reason for pause?

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wutwutwut (Oct 4, 2018 - 7:20 am)

"attorneys on here say that..."

Even if we decide, arguendo, these people are correct that you may be ill-suited for many types of atty roles, and ignore the others, how this causes you to immediately flit to "I need SSDI" is what amazes me.

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mazatec (Oct 4, 2018 - 7:30 am)

All jobs involve some kind of stress/pressure. It comes with the territory.

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thirdtierlaw (Oct 4, 2018 - 8:57 am)

Is this a serious post? Or are you just trolling? As a law clerk are you honestly saying that you have the same stress/pressure as the judge? That the judge has the same stress/pressure as the attorneys, and that the court officer has the same level of stress/pressure as all three of you?

You may not be emotionally suited to be an attorney, but that does not mean you're disabled.

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mazatec (Oct 4, 2018 - 9:06 am)

I didn't say all jobs are equal stress. A Judge's job is much more stressful than the court reporter. I said that all jobs involve some baseline of stress.

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johnsmith (Oct 3, 2018 - 6:51 pm)

How old is your uncle? If over 50, that should be a good case

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fuckyouracists (Oct 3, 2018 - 7:20 pm)

63. Id think so but didn’t work out his way so far.

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kappel (Oct 3, 2018 - 9:29 pm)

Careful about the pole. We already had one legendary poster get banned to the dome for the pole suggestion. As far as I know he's still there.

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catwoman333 (Oct 6, 2018 - 1:38 am)

I've worked for the past several years as a disability lawyer. Before that, worked for SSA, making decisions on these cases. My 2 cents:

One overnight hospitalization will not cut it (qualify you for SSDI/SSI)...esp. for someone with an extensive education, under age 50, and if s/he has any past/present substance abuse issues.

SSA will conclude that although you have diagnosable mental illnesses, treatment history, etc. you are still capable of "simple, sedentary" work. Another big issue with SSA is history of DAA (drugs/alcohol). SSA usually finds that in those cases, the individual would not have MI "issues" if they were not under the influence of drugs, alcohol. Kind of like the "but for...." test we all learned about in law school. [SSA's views, not mine.]


Life stress?? You gotta be kidding!! TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. SSA judges know MOST Americans--including many of them--are highly stressed out, due to the nature of high-pressure, rat-race 21st Century America.


Yes, SS attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. Frankly, I wouldn't touch your weak case with a 10-foot pole. If you are able to spend MONTHS on end, reading and blogging so extensively on this board, surely you are capable of some kind of simple, sedentary work. Advice: Stop wasting MONTHS of your life living on this website 24/7, blogging everyday, and instead devote that time to a REAL job search......

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mazatec (Oct 6, 2018 - 2:50 pm)

"If you are able to spend MONTHS on end, reading and blogging so extensively on this board, surely you are capable of some kind of simple, sedentary work. Advice: Stop wasting MONTHS of your life living on this website 24/7, blogging everyday, and instead devote that time to a REAL job search......"

Lots of people on SSI/SSDI post on messageboards. Just go to r/depression or r/bipolar. It has nothing to do with your ability to work in a high stress environment. It takes literally no effort for me to post here, or elsewhere.

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catwoman333 (Oct 8, 2018 - 11:30 pm)

MOST people with VIABLE claims do not LIVE on the boards as you appear to....:). But WTH do I know? I've only been practicing DL for a decade and worked at SSA before that.

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onehell (Oct 10, 2018 - 5:58 pm)

Sounds like you don't have much experience with psych cases, catwoman333.

A job is no less or more stressful because it is "sedentary," that's a step 5/RFC term.

You have to keep in mind that you're trying to meet a listing with psych cases, not win on the grids (which is what I assume you're accustomed to). RFC analysis is not relevant to whether a client meets a listing.

That's not to say OP's case is a good one, have no idea, but the idea that a psych case is bad because a person could do "sedentary" work is simply wrong on the law, though I agree that if you do let them get to step 5 on a psych case you're prolly gonna lose. Heck, if under 50 you'll lose pretty much any case that gets to step 5, with rare exception.

Listing 12.04(C) is clear and not all that demanding: Two years of ongoing psych treatment + continuing "minimal ability to adapt to changes in environment or to demands not already part of your daily life" = disabled.

Any job, sedentary or not, creates significant demands that are not normally part of the daily life of someone not otherwise engaged in SGA. Merely having to show up somewhere at a specific time and place every day can be too much for many people living with serious mental illness. Posting on a message board creates no such change in environment or demands and thus there is nothing to adapt to.

That's all a psych disabled person really is: Someone who, despite a long, well-documented and significant history of treatment, still can't adapt to changes in their environment or handle any increase in expectations placed upon them. If you try to introduce even the most minimal obligations or expectations, they just kinda fall apart or as the shrinks say, "decompensate."

Facts provided don't say it's a good case. But they don't necessarily demonstrate a bad case, either. Review of tx history/records would be needed to make that eval.

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downwardslope (Oct 10, 2018 - 7:17 pm)

Why are people even getting into this? The OP is working. Full time. Making well over $1,180 per month. Just because the OP can’t get an optimal job doesn’t mean she is disabled. I am sure most people posting on JDU aren’t in their optimal jobs, but they certainly aren’t disabled either.

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onehell (Oct 10, 2018 - 7:28 pm)

Oh well if there's SGA then that's the end of matters absolutely. But I didn't see that in the OP.

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downwardslope (Oct 10, 2018 - 8:14 pm)

She has been doing a judicial clerkship since last August or September 2017. It was supposed to be a one-year deal but it was continued a second year because the judge likes her.

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billcarson (Oct 7, 2018 - 7:11 pm)

You will be denied based on the facts provided. However, if you want to shop your case then take it to one or two of the bigger SSDI shops in your area. If they think your claim is worth anything they will invite you in.

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legaleagle223 (Oct 10, 2018 - 7:26 pm)

Why couldn't you could get a job at Costco checking customers' receipts when they leave the store?

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wutwutwut (Oct 11, 2018 - 7:03 am)

Wut??

You think they just hand out those jobs to just anybody?!?

Lol

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