The process of obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be easier for some applicants, due to a little-known provision in the law known as the “worn-out” worker rule. Under this rule, applicants who would not normally qualify for benefits would gain eligibility depending upon their overall work and education history and the severity of their medical condition. In order to obtain benefits under this rule, you would need to meet these three qualifications:
- A brief educational history: Workers who qualify for this rule do not generally have more than a sixth-grade education. Workers with more education are more likely to be able to transition to jobs that take less of a toll on the body, while those below this level of education are not.
- A long work history in tough labor: You must have worked at least 35 years in physically demanding jobs. If you have worked in construction, demolition, production or other jobs that take a toll on your body, you would likely satisfy this requirement.
- A disabling impairment: Your physical or mental health impairment must be severe enough that it prevents you from conducting your job duties.
Under normal rules, you would be denied benefits if you were able to adjust to other, light-duty work. The worn-out worker rule only looks at what you actually do for your job, not work that you could possibly adjust to.
One of a number of legal paths
No workers want to think of themselves as “worn out” but that is the name commonly given to this aspect of SSD law. If you qualify for SSD benefits under this rule, there is a strong chance you qualify under the normal rules. If your SSD application is denied under the normal rules, however, this particular avenue is worth looking into. If you need benefits, you want to explore all of the potential options available to you and handle the process with the care and attention to detail it requires.