If you’ve fought for and won Social Security Disability benefits then you know that your case will be reviewed by the Social Security Administration every once in a while to determine if you are still eligible to receive the benefits.
So how could enrolling in school, whether in-person or online, impact their stance on your eligibility to continue receiving the benefits you’ve already been approved for?
Social Security Disability & Returning To School
If you make the decision to go to school, you are taking steps towards improving your life and making your future a brighter one. Learning new skills could potentially open new career paths. Although enrolling in classes won’t impact your benefits immediately, during a review, a disability examiner will look for indications that you are no longer eligible to receive benefits.
Here are a few examples of things you need to consider before going back to school if you collect Social Security Disability:
Can You Take Online Classes While On Social Security Disability?
If you’ve claimed that a physical or emotional disability prevents you from performing normal, everyday tasks, going to school could be seen as an indication that you are not as limited as you have claimed to be.
For example, if you suffer from anxiety and have stated that you cannot be in a room full of people because of your disorder, yet you are attending physical classes, this could result in the loss of benefits.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t options for those whose disorder prevents them from being in a physical classroom. With the creation of online curriculums, more people than ever before are able to earn their degree.
However, be prepared to explain the specific circumstances to the SSA in order to prevent the loss of benefits. Also consider that, for the Social Security Administration, being a student is often compared to being employed. A lot of exertion is required to perform well in school as in the workplace. Unfortunately, if you deem yourself fit for completing education, the social security agent reviewing your claim may deem you fit for some kind of normal work and deny the disbursement of any further benefits.
Which Type Of School Are You Looking To Attend?
It’s normal to want to study a topic that is mentally and emotionally stimulating. However, think about what message a particular major or certificate might send to the SSA.
For example, if you claim that spinal damage prevents you from doing a job that requires any physical labor but then seek a training program that will teach you how to be a plumber, the SSA will believe that your physical disability has improved greatly.
Once more, you should consider that your actions may be viewed in the worst possible light. If your hopes of schooling and higher education appear to contradict with your disability, however genuine it may be, you may find your benefits revoked.
The Social Security Administration is often revered (and feared) for its ability to weed-out recipients who are no longer disabled but who continue to receive financial benefits. This makes them particularly predisposed to take away benefits rather than continue to dole them out.
If you are unsure whether your decision to go to school can appear contradictory to your disability to someone who doesn’t know you personally and is not completely aware of your situation, then seeking legal advice can be a wise decision.
How Often Does The SSA Review Disability Cases?
The frequency with which the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews a case depends on the type of disability that the applicant has. Each of the Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements has a specific level of disability that qualifies as an eligible disability. These requirements may change periodically, so it is best to stay on top of them as they are implemented, in order to avoid being denied a claim.
The categories and timelines for review are as follows:
- Expected: The SSA will typically review Expected cases every 6 – 18 months after benefits begin.
- Possible: The SSA generally reviews cases in this category every 3 years.
- Not Expected: The SSA looks at these cases every 7 years.
How Can I Prepare For The Review Of My Disability Case?
There are a few steps that you can take to help prepare you for the review of your case.
- Visit your doctor on a regular basis. Be sure to have your doctor carefully document the limitations of your condition.
- Have the necessary forms filled out in advance.
- Learn about the review process so you know what to expect.
It is important to keep in mind that a number of other state and federal agencies exist that offer assistance for individuals who are disabled.
If you’d like a deep-dive analysis of your disability claim, contact our experienced law team today to learn more. You could greatly increase your chances of being able to return to school without losing your benefits if you work closely with an experienced attorney such as those who form part of the Schuster Law firm.