I am currently working on a federal court case in which my client completed 8th grade but believes that she really only has an education at the 3rd or 4th grade level. She claims that the teachers just passed her along to the next grade to get her out of their class. The issue of education arises in Social Security Disability cases as a vocational factor – when Social Security has already determined that you cannot perform your past work but is considering what other kind of work you can do.
Social Security’s method for evaluating education is found in 20 C.F.R. Section 404.1564. They understand that if a long time has passed since you have received your education, the skills and knowledge you obtained may no longer be useful. They will use a person’s numerical grade level to determine educational abilities unless there is evidence to contradict it. So, for example, in my case it will be important to look at the school records and determine whether my client actually passed any of the classes she was taking or was absent or tardy so much such that she was not there and thus could not have learned the material despite the fact that she was passed. Also, it will be important to check if she was in special education classes while she was in school.