Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Worn-Out-Worker Rule – Another Path to Disability Benefits

There is a lesser-known Social Security Regulation that provides a clear path to disability approval for marginally educated individuals who have performed arduous unskilled labor for a period of 35 years or longer, and are no longer able to do so due to severe impairments.  The so-called “Worn-Out-Worker Rule” may be found at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1562 and 416.962.

When evaluating a case under the Worn-Out-Worker rule, one must be very careful to establish each of the criteria.

1) Marginal education – This level of education is generally no more than a 6th grade education, but when considering the impact of education, other factors may come into play including the nature of the person’s responsibilities and tasks on the job (see SSR 82-63).

2) 35 years or more of arduous unskilled labor – Arduous does not necessarily mean Heavy or Very Heavy exertional capacity work, but lower exertional capacity work may qualify if the nature of the work can be considered arduous (see SSR 82-63).  The work must be also consistently regarded as unskilled, though brief periods of semi-skilled or skilled work will not necessarily prevent a person from qualifying under this provision.

3) Not currently working

4) Unable to perform arduous unskilled labor due to severe impairments – Medical evidence establishes proof of severe impairment(s) that prevent a return to past relevant work.

This information does not create an attorney-client or physician-patient relationship or any kind, and is for informational purposes only. For advice regarding your specific circumstances, contact Disability Attorney Thomas O’Brien.


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