The Worn Out Worker Rule and SSDI Claims

The Worn Out Worker Rule and SSDI Claims

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the SSA will look at grids as part of their analysis to determine whether benefits should be awarded. Specifically, the SSA will consider the following factors:

  • Your age
  • Your educational background
  • The skill level required for your previous jobs
  • Your transferrable job skills
  • Your residual functional capacity (your ability to perform light, medium, or heavy work)

Generally, these grids suggest that older, unskilled, and uneducated workers are likely to be awarded SSDI over their younger, skilled, and educated counterparts. One additional consideration is given to uneducated applicants whose previous employment background has many jobs requiring unskilled physical labor. This is known as the “worn out worker” rule, set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1562, 416.962).

What are the Requirements of the Worn Out Worker Rule?

There are several prerequisites an applicant must meet in order to fall under the worn out worker rule:

  • The applicant must only have a “marginal education”: This means the applicant should have completed education through no more than sixth grade and have low skills in arithmetic, language, and reasoning.
  • The applicant must have worked 35 years or more of performing only physically demanding unskilled labor: Common examples include mine workers or farmers.
  • The applicant must not be able to perform the duties of their employment due to a serious physical or mental impairment: The applicant must have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least one year that impairs their ability to perform their job duties.

Application of the Worn Out Worker Rule to SSDI Claims

The worn out worker rule is only considered in a relatively limited number of cases. This is because the first step to the SSA’s evaluation of a claim is for a claims examiner to evaluate the applicant’s disability status. It is only if an applicant is found not to be disabled that the examiner would then consider whether the worn out worker rule applies. In the majority of cases, applicants who would otherwise qualify for benefits from the worn out worker rule qualify based on their disability first.

Even when the rule does apply, there is a risk that since it is relatively rare, an examiner may not recognize it applies. Alternatively, if an examiner did recognize the rule may apply, they may still apply it incorrectly, deciding an applicant is over-educated or that his labor was not strenuous enough.

Contact our Experienced Mount Pleasant SSDI Attorneys Today

If you want to file a claim for SSDI and have an employment history of unskilled physical labor, the experienced Mount Pleasant SSDI attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC can help determine whether the “worn out worker” rule applies to your case and increases the chances of success for your claim. Even if the rule does not apply to your case, our SSDI attorneys can go through your application and determine its possibility of success.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


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