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SSDI- Can't do my nursing job. Can I get disability?

Cannot work old job can I get SSDI?


Recently on our disability forum we had a claimant ask, “I have been a nurse for thirty years but I can no longer physically or mentally do my job. Can I get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?” This is a great question but before we can answer it it’s important that claimants understand when the Social Security Administration (SSI) will consider them actually disabled.

Am I disabled?


Assuming this applicant has worked and paid into the SSA system and has sufficient work credits to be  considered insured for SSDI, the SSA will next verify that she is not working and making too much money. If the nurse is still working full-time than no, she will not be considered disabled and will be automatically denied.

The requirement that the applicant NOT be working BEFORE they apply for SSDI is a tough one. Many applicants with very serious health conditions press through work because they know is their only option. But unfortunately, that is not what the SSA believes. They believe that if you can get up and go to work than you are not disabled.

This applicant will first have to determine if she is to the point that she absolutely cannot work BEFORE applying for SSDI.


Can’t work, what next?


If you are not working than the SSA will determine if your condition will last at least 12 continuous months and is severe. If neither of these requirements is true, than you will be automatically denied.

Next, the SSA will determine if your condition is on the SSA Listing of Impairments. The SSA Listing of Impairments is a list of conditions and symptoms the SSA considers automatically disabling. If your condition meets or exceeds a listing your claim should be immediately approved, if not, you will have to prove you cannot work.

Can’t do nursing work, what are my options?


Next we are getting to the heart of what the disability applicant is asking. If she cannot perform her current job as a nurse is she disabled? Not necessarily. Even if you cannot perform your current job, assuming your condition was not on the SSA Listing of Impairments, you will have to prove you cannot retrain for new work.

For an educated worker under the age of 55 it will be almost impossible to win SSDI benefits if you do not meet a listing. Why? Because the SSA will assume that there is some type of work you can perform.

For instance, a nurse by profession could possibly retrain for a variety of jobs within the medical field including:

Registered Record Administrators
Accredited Record Technicians
Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Cancer Registrar
Health Information Administrator
Medical Coder
Medical Librarian
Medical Transcriptionist

Given that many of these jobs could be considered sedentary jobs, it may be tough for a younger worker to prove they do not have the physical capacity to perform this work. So will you be considered automatically disabled if you can no longer be a nurse? Only if your condition meets a listing or you can prove you cannot retrain for any other work.