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Social Security News and Updates

"Worn out worker" rule

Posted by Peter Bohan | Jun 19, 2016

Inability to make adjustment to other work per "worn out worker" rule.

According to CFR section 404.1562(a), if you have done only arduous unskilled physical labor. If you have no more than a marginal education (see § 404.1564) and work experience of 35 years or more during which you did only arduous unskilled physical labor, and you are not working and are no longer able to do this kind of work because of a severe impairment(s) (see §§ 404.1520(c), 404.1521, and 404.1523), we will consider you unable to do lighter work, and therefore, disabled. 

Example:  Joe is a 56-year-old construction worker with less than high school education having worked 36 years doing arduous physical labor. Joe's doctor has diagnosed degenerative disc disease (shown on MRI showing bulging discs) in his lower back preventing him from doing his previous work and documents that Joe can not do his previous job based on physical limitations. Joe can potentially be found disabled by SSA per the above described "worn out worker" rule.

Commentthis valuable rule provides allows claimants a quicker path to an award of benefits by removing the burden to demonstrate inability to do "other" work.

About the Author

Peter Bohan

Attorney since 1996; dedicated to representing Social Security Disability claimants before the Social Security Administration.

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