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What’s a marginal education under the SSA’s worn-out worker rule?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) establishes and enforces certain rules for disability benefits. Individuals who want to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments need to have a truly debilitating medical condition. They also need to have worked for long enough to qualify for benefits.

Typically, workers who can go back to another profession won’t qualify for benefits. However, those who perform physical labor for a living and who have done so for 35 years or longer may qualify for benefits under the worn-out worker rule.

Rather than needing to go flip burgers or run a cash register, someone who has performed years of physical labor how to receive SSDI. In addition to doing a physically demanding job for years, someone making a claim under the worn-out worker rule will need to show having a marginal education. What does that mean?

The SSA has specific rules for a worker’s background

Someone with a college degree could potentially do certain jobs even if they are unable to leave their home to work. The more education someone has, the more likely it is that they can continue some sort of gainful employment after a severe injury or diagnosis with a persistent condition.

For a worker to qualify for SSDI under the worn-out worker rule, they must lack the necessary education to continue supporting themselves financially. Anyone that the SSA decides has only a marginal education could potentially qualify despite still being physically able to do low-paying, low-skilled jobs.

The SSA defines a marginal education as being able to read and write but displaying overall the academic abilities of someone who has only completed the sixth grade. Math or language skills above a sixth-grade level may prohibit an employee from qualifying under the worn-out worker rule.

Understanding the program can help you get benefits

If you don’t have the education to earn a competitive wage and you have an injury ending your current career path, you may qualify for SSDI until you are old enough to retire. It can be difficult for people to understand when they qualify for SSDI, especially with so many confusing and highly specific terms involved.

Learning more about SSDI benefits and unique exceptions, like the worn-out worker rule, can help you determine if it is time for you to apply.

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