Whether or not you have a driver's license generally won't affect your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, the reasons why you don't have a license might help you get approved for benefits.
Not having a driver's license due to non-medical reasons (like having your license suspended because of unpaid fines, or simply not needing to drive) typically won't affect your claim. Disability claims examiners or administrative law judges aren't concerned about how you'd get yourself to a job site when determining whether you can work. They just need to decide if you could do a job once you got there.
Even if you've had your license revoked because of a DUI conviction, the Social Security Administration (SSA) won't take your lack of a license under consideration unless the agency thinks that drug and alcohol abuse might be material to a finding of disability.
Some people might not have a driver's license because they're unable to read the written portion of the driver's test. But for a few people—mostly over the age of 50—not having a driver's license due to illiteracy can help with their disability claim. A special set of rules known as the "medical-vocational grid" takes into consideration your educational background to determine whether you're capable of working.
Keep in mind that, for Social Security purposes, "illiteracy" means being unable to read or write a simple message in any language, not just English. And because most states offer licensing tests in multiple languages, using not having a driver's license as proof of illiteracy might be a hard sell to the SSA.
If you can't get a driver's license because of your medical condition, or you have had your license revoked because of your medical condition, you can use this to help prove how severe your impairment is.
If your medical condition doesn't qualify for automatic approval as a listed impairment, the SSA will prepare a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. Your RFC is a detailed report that discusses how your medical impairment affects your ability to do work-related activities like sitting, standing, pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, speaking, and hearing.
When Social Security assesses your RFC, the agency can consider any medical reasons why you can't get a license. These can include a wide range of conditions such as hearing or vision loss, seizure precautions, and side effects from medications.
In some cases, the inability to get a driver's license can help you win your claim. You should contact an experienced disability attorney to discuss your case and see if not having your license can help you get approved. Learn more in our article about how lawyers and advocates handle disability claims.
Updated August 3, 2023