The standard established for total disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is quite strict. An individual typically has to be incapable of engaging in any sort of gainful employment. In other words, a white-collar professional acclimated to a six-figure salary won’t necessarily qualify for benefits if an injury forces them to take a job at a fast food restaurant.
Provided that someone can work at all, they may not qualify for disability benefits. Many people who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits eventually learn that they do not meet the high standard for total disability.
There are some special rules that can help people in unique circumstances qualify for benefits when others would not. As a blue-collar worker, you have used your body to support yourself and your family. Provided that you have done your job for at least 35 years, you could potentially qualify for benefits under the worn-out worker rule. This rule applies to physical laborers who have only a marginal education.
What constitutes a marginal education?
It isn’t difficult to determine if you have worked in a manual labor position for long enough to qualify for benefits, but many workers struggle to evaluate their education. The common standard for a marginal education is that it is no more than a sixth-grade education. People who can read, write and do basic arithmetic may qualify as having only a marginal education.
Someone who dropped out of school early to go to work can potentially meet the standard. Those who have gone decades without any kind of education and who have lost what they may have learned could also potentially qualify as having a marginal education. A thorough evaluation on a case-by-case basis is typically necessary to see if someone could qualify for SSDI benefits under the worn-out worker rule.
Why qualifying is so important
If a blue-collar employee with only a marginal education has an injury that forces them to change professions and accept a minimum-wage job, they could potentially secure SSDI benefits. This different standard for benefits takes into consideration how much physical damage a blue-collar career can do to someone.
If you have spent years of your life performing heavy physical labor and can no longer do your job because of a medical condition, it may be worthwhile to explore all of your options. Learning more about the rules for SSDI benefits will help those concerned about their ability to support themselves following an injury.