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What the Worn-Out Worker Rule Means for Your Disability Claim

Does your work history consist solely of manual labor jobs? A little-known provision of the Social Security regulations may make it easier for you to get SSDI benefits if you’re unable to work because of a disabling injury or illness. Known as the Worn-Out Worker Rule, the provision isn’t used often, as it usually only comes into play in cases where a longtime physical laborer’s disability claim would otherwise be denied under the usual eligibility standards.

If you’ve held physically-demanding jobs for decades, but can no longer work due to a disabling injury or illness that’s expected to last for at least a year or result in death, the Worn-Out Worker Rule may apply to your claim, provided that you have:

  • What the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines as “marginal education”—generally, up to a sixth-grade education resulting in low-level reasoning, reading, language, and mathematical skills
  • Worked solely in difficult and unskilled manual labor jobs for 35 years or longer, such as construction, farming, mining, commercial fishing, and other physically-demanding positions
  • Evidence showing that you’re no longer able to do your job because of a severely-disabling physical or mental medical condition

Contrary to traditional SSDI application procedures, you’re not required to prove that you can’t do a lighter-duty job when applying under the Worn-Out Worker Rule.

The Work-Out Worker Rule can provide career physical laborers with a significant advantage when applying for SSDI. However, just because you meet all the criteria to qualify for the Worn-Out Worker Rule doesn’t mean that the SSA examiner assigned to your claim will automatically or successfully consider your application under that provision without prompting. The rule is rarely used and, as a result, the examiner may be unfamiliar with it or make a mistake when assessing your eligibility. You need a skilled Social Security disability attorney to advocate for your rights.

Are You a Worn-Out Worker? We Can Help

The experienced Social Security disability attorneys with O’Connor Law PLLC help clients throughout New York secure the SSDI benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.

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