What Every Florida Teacher Needs To Know About Filing For Social Security Disability Benefits
Teachers work long and hard hours. I’m married to a teacher and I know how hard my husband works during the school year.
In the course of my Social Security Disability practice, I’ve found that Social Security Judges are sympathetic to Social Security Disability applications filed by teachers.
Don’t Make A Mistake In Your Social Security Disability Application
It’s crucial that you don’t make a mistake when filing for Social Security Disability benefits if your doctor told you that you can no longer teach. However, the Social Security Administration uses a 5 step sequential evaluation in evaluating every social security disability claim (link). You can win benefits at step 3 if your medical condition meets a medical listing. It is very hard to meet Step 3.
More often than not, the Social Security Administration will apply Steps 4 and 5 of the 5 Step Sequential evaluation. It’s crucial that you understand what you’re required to prove. It’s like preparing for an exam.
Tell Me More About Step 4
At Step 4 you have to prove that you can no longer be a teacher because of physical or psychological reasons. I’ve found that teachers make crucial mistakes in their initial application by failing to fully explain the physical requirements of their job. There is a lot of lifting such as books and a lot of pushing of carts and other equipment from room to room.
The Social Security Administration thinks that teaching is a “light” type job. I know otherwise. Make sure that you explain in the initial application all of the lifting, bending, stooping, kneeling, crouching and stair climbing that you do. If you have to physically pick students up or even restrain them, make sure that you explain those duties.
Don’t forget to explain the cognitive requirements of your job, including your preparation, teaching and dealing with questions. If you have physiological problems such as depression, you may not be able to adequately prepare lesson plans, deal with students or even deal with other faculty members.
Clearly explaining your occupational duties will help you establish that you are unable to perform your past relevant work at Step 4.
But What About Step 5?
Step 5 is where the rubber meets the mat. The Social Security Administration will determine whether or not you have the capacity to perform any other occupation in the national economy in light of your age, education, training, and skills. I’ve heard many vocational evaluators testify at Social Security hearings that a teacher can wrap silverware in a napkin, be a surveillance system monitor, fold laundry or even be a ticket taker. It’s crucial that we establish why you wouldn’t’ be physically or psychiatrically capable of performing those occupations.
By the way, it doesn’t matter whether you want to do any of those jobs. The question is whether you not you would be “capable” of performing those other occupations in the hypothetical world.
It’s crucial that you explain to your physician the reasons why you couldn’t do any other occupations. You might have difficulties with lifting, bending, or stooping, need to take breaks or you may be absent more than 4 times a month.
What Should I Do If I Can No Longer Work?
It’s crucial that every teacher who’s applying for Social Security Disability benefits understand what they need to prove in their Social Security Disability application and in their medical records.
If you can’t teach anymore, it’s time to contact Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey who can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Call today at 727-894-3188.