The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a set of rules known commonly as grid rules to help determine if you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. These rules help SSA application evaluators make a correct decision on SSD eligibility. These grid rules often have several factors that impact eligibility and the maximum sustained work capability or residual functional capacity (RFC) of applicants, including your age, education level and skill level.
Thanks to grid rules, older individuals who can’t write, read, communicate in English or who have yet to graduate from high school may have an improved chance of becoming eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Here are a few factors to consider:

Understand How SSD Approval Works

Before evaluating your education level, SSA application reviewers assess your SSD application to determine if it meets the requirements for automatic approval. If these requirements aren’t met, your education level is then evaluated. The SSA will evaluate various education levels, including limited education, English communication skills, illiteracy, and marginal education. When combined with other factors, such as a mental impairment, physical disability and skills transferability, you may or may not be considered disabled under the grid rules.

A Lack of Reading and Writing Skills May Qualify You for SSD Benefits

If you can’t write or read simple messages and lack education, the SSA considers you’re education level illiterate. When combined with other factors, such as a heart condition that prevents you from working another job beyond light work and untransferable skills, you may qualify for SSD benefits. However, this qualification only applies to adults between the ages of 45 and 54.

A Limited Education With Other Factors May Lead to Approval

While a limited education does not guarantee an approval for SSD benefits, it’s possible you may get approved when considering other factors. For instance, if you dropped out of school and only completed the 9th grade, are over 60, have a physical disability that prevents you from performing your job based on your skill level and education, you may qualify for SSD benefits. Thus, a 61-year-old who worked as a shoemaker in a factory but now has carpal tunnel syndrome and can only do light work may qualify for SSD benefits.

Qualifying Under Marginal Education and Lack of English Communication Skills Presents Eligibility Possibilities for Older Adults

The SSA considers older adults who have a 6th-grade education or lower as having a marginal education. When a marginal education level is combined with other limitations that can restrict you from performing a job, you may qualify for SSD benefits. This may also be the case for individuals who lack basic English communication skills, such as being only able to read English, or only read and write without speaking the language.
For instance, if you have a light-work RFC, are closely approaching retirement age with a 4th-grade education, but have no transferable skills based on your previous work, you may qualify for SSD benefits. Moreover, a 53-year-old who is deaf or blind may qualify for SSD if he also lacks English communications skills and transferable skills.
However, the marginal education rule only applies to individuals who are at least 60 years or older. So, it’s important to review the grid rules with an SSD expert attorney to determine your likelihood for eligibility.

Final Thoughts

Qualifying for SSD benefits under the grid rules is possible. But not all older adults get approval under each type of rule. Thus, it’s crucial to understand how Social Security classifies various levels of education and how your education level and other factors impact your qualification for SSD benefits. Even if Social Security denies your application for SSD benefits, it’s possible to get a re-evaluation.
It’s important to consult with a reliable disability attorney with SSD expertise, such as the experienced attorneys from The Good Law Group. By understanding the process for SSD eligibility under the grid rules, you can have a better idea of how you may qualify for SSD benefits.