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Physical labor jobs are demanding. If you have done difficult physical work, such as mining, farming, or commercial fishing, for many years, a special rule may apply to you if you are now disabled and seeking Social Security disability benefits.

The Rule Is Known as the Worn Out Worker Rule

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits pursuant to the worn out worker rule, an applicant must meet legal requirements. Specifically, an applicant must have:

  • A marginal education. Typically, this means an education that ended in 6th grade or earlier. This provision is meant to apply only to people who have low levels of reasoning skills, math skills, and reading ability.
  • Worked 35 years or more only in hard and unskilled physical labor jobs.
  • Evidence that shows he can no longer do his job because of a severe mental or physical condition. There is no need for an applicant to show that he couldn’t do lighter labor if he would otherwise qualify for benefits under the worn out worker rule.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only apply the worn out worker rule after evaluating a person’s Social Security disability eligibility using the usual eligibility standards. Many applicants who would qualify under the worn out worker rule will also qualify because of the usual eligibility standards. Therefore, the worn out worker rule is not used often, but remains important for those workers who would otherwise be left without the Social Security disability benefits they deserve.

Do You Qualify as a Worn Out Worker?

Since few Social Security disability applicants qualify pursuant to this Social Security rule, some claims examiners do not understand when to apply the rule and may make a mistake. Accordingly, it is important to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can make sure that all of your rights are protected and you get the benefits you deserve. For more information about your own application, please start a live chat with us today.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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