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What you Need to Know about the Worn-Out Worker Rule in SSD Claims
Posted October 05, 2017

Social Security Disability AttorneyA majority of workers are unaware of the little-known provision of the SSA, known as the worn-out worker rule. This rule applies to disabled workers who have an extensive employment history comprising of unskilled physical labor work. The worn-out worker rule provides employees with disability a good chance for claiming Social Security disability benefits that otherwise would be denied.

Understanding the Worn-Out Worker Rule

The SSA has set many checkpoints for workers to obtain disability benefits, one of which is the ability of an application to continue working. Several tests give priority to work that the applicant might have done in their employment history. If they do not find anything suitable, the caseworker will consider any kind of job that matches with the skills and education of the applicant. However, the caseworker runs out of options when the applicant does not have any specific skills or academics applicable to their situation.

This is where the worn-out worker rule is taken into consideration. The statutory guidelines for this rule can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations in Section 404.1562. The worn-out worker rule applies to a narrowed class of workers to determine whether they are eligible for disability benefits. There are three conditions that an applicant must satisfy:

  1. Marginal Education: The applicant must only have a marginal education. If a worker has studied till sixth grade, they will be considered eligible under this rule.
  2. Work Experience: The applicant must have an employment history of at least 35 years comprising of arduous unskilled physical labor only. According to the SSA, arduous work is defined as a job entailing physical work that primarily require high level of endurance or strength. However, there are no specific exertional level or physical actions that comes under the definition arduous work. Moreover, the SSA has not put any requirement that unskilled physical work for 35 years should be continuous – it can be divided into intervals.
  3. Severe Impairment: The worker must no longer be able to perform any kind of work due to a severe impairment expected to go on for at least a year. The impairment can either be mental or physical, or a combination of both, having more than a minimal impact on the worker’s ability to perform work-related tasks.

 

If an applicant meets the above criteria, they will not have to undergo a diagnosis to find out if they have any disability that is mentioned in the Listing of Impairments. They will not be assessed for Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) either. The caseworker will automatically classify them as disabled, and will not see if they can perform any kind of lighter unskilled work.

If a worker is eligible under the worn-out worker rule, it can increase their chances of receiving disability benefits. However, they will have to go through a lot of interpretation of the caseworker. It is important to retain the services of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to develop a deep understanding of the worn-out worker rule and improve your chances of qualification by the SSA. Contact Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd. today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

What to Expect from a Social Security Disability Interview
Posted September 18, 2017

Social Security Disability AttorneyIf you suffer from a disabling injury or medical condition, you may have several questions about filing for Social Security disability benefits and how the process will go forward after your application has been approved. Generally, the first step involves giving an initial interview to a Social Security representative. It is best that you prepare for it prior to going to the interview to increase the chance of your receiving SSD benefits.

What to Prepare

The Social Security representative requires a claimant to provide two important pieces of information: a complete work history and a full medical record comprising of the treatments you have received for your disability. The SSA uses this information to determine the eligibility of a claimant for disability benefits. It is recommended to provide as much and accurate information as possible to increase your chances of approval. Here are a few things that you should provide:

  • Names and contact information of medical institutions and doctors who have treated your disability
  • The dates for medical testing and when you received specific treatments
  • A list of all medications you were prescribed and are currently taking

It is important that the information you provide comprises of the data and record of the past 90 days. This is indispensable to showing that the disability still exists and affects your ability work. Moreover, your work history for the last 15 years will be required as well. You should write down these things on a paper or notepad and bring it with you so that you do not miss any important points during the interview.

What Happens During the SSD Interview?

Generally, a Social Security interview lasts for about an hour, considering that the claimant is prepared and has all the required information about medical and work history at hand. It is important to know that the purpose of this interview is to get the facts of your disability straight, and at that time, no final decision will be made regarding your claim.

The representative from the SSA will inquire about your past 15 years of work history, the duties you performed during that period or at each job, how you got the disability, the medical treatments you have received, and the medications you have been taking for it. They may also ask about personal information, such as past military service, marital status, children, and any workers’ compensation benefits you are receiving for your injury.

In summary, important things to bring with you at the SSD interview includes:

  • Personal information
  • Medical records
  • Account information for payments
  • Information about workers’ compensation
  • Medical release form

To ensure you are fully prepared for the SSD interview, you should discuss your case with an experienced and reliable Social Security disability attorney. They will provide you tips to excel at the interview and work with you to collect information you will need to present to the SSA representative. Contact Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd  today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

Does Getting SSD Benefits Become Easier After 50?
Posted August 08, 2017

Social Security Disability AttorneyWhen a worker reaches the age of 50, it becomes easy for them to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account the slow recovery from injuries or illnesses and the difficulty a person may face in shifting to a different type of work. The SSA lowers its qualification requirements as a worker turns 50, and they keep on getting more lenient as they become older.

Special Rules for People Over 50

Your health condition and ability to engage in work you used to do before or perform a different type of work are the major considerations for SSD determinations. With age, both of these factors start declining, which is why older workers are given favorable treatment in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, commonly known as the Grid Rules. These are the rules that the SSA looks at when evaluating the eligibility of a worker for disability benefits after establishing that you are unable to perform the work you were able to before becoming disabled.

Five different categories have been included in the grid by the SSA based on the functioning capacity or exertional levels of a worker after disability:

1. Sedentary
2. Light
3. Medium
4. Heavy
5. Very heavy

These levels are divided based on the functional capacity and the age bracket of disabled workers. For example, if a worker is between the age of 50 and 54, they may avail SSD benefits even if they can perform sedentary labor. Similarly, if the worker lies in the age bracket of 50 and 59 and can perform light work, they will be eligible to receive the benefits. Those between 60 and 64 can apply for SSD benefit even though they can perform medium work. What is considered as sedentary, light, medium, and heavy work and the requirements for eligibility are all laid out in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines.

Why the SSA provides SSD Benefits Relatively Easily to People Over 50

  • The reason behind it simple: workers belonging to these age groups have only few opportunities to find work other than their respective field. This is due to:
  • Their physical and mental health conditions
  • The fact that a majority of employers are unwilling to hire a person in their 50s or above as they need better compensation, are difficult to train, and likely require more frequent health insurance claims
  • Their job skills may be outdated or not as valuable in the marketplace like they used to before

Considering all of these facts and others, the SSA has made it easier for older workers to qualify for SSD benefits. However, there are still chances that your application may be turned down, even after the special rules are applicable to you. In such situations, you may want to consult an experienced Social Security disability attorney to determine why your application was denied and what your next step should be to avail the benefits.

Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Special Senses/Speech Disabilities
Posted July 20, 2017

Social Security for Special SensesThe Social Security Administration (SSA) has designed Social Security Disability benefits programs that offer aid to people who have become disabled and are unable to earn a living. The criteria for being considered eligible for different kinds of physical impairments and debilitating diseases have been laid out in the Blue Book.

Special senses include hearing and sight. The Blue Book features a list of disorders and impairments related to special senses and loss of speech, and guidelines for determining other disorders that may qualify claimants for SSD benefits. They are covered in Listing 2.00 Special Senses and Speech of the Blue Book.

Evaluation of Special Senses and Speech Impairments by the SSA

It can be difficult to be considered as a disabled individual based on a speech disorder, but it is not impossible. The SSA determines the extent of your speech impairment and its effect on your ability to work based on your ability to communicate with others. Mostly, this consideration is based on whether the speech can be improved and made recognizable using a mechanical device or electronic device for better voice articulation.

For evaluating a person’s ability to hear and distinguish speech, audiometer is used for measuring the degree of hearing loss. It is essential for this device to meet the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards to get reliable results. Moreover, an otolaryngologic examination is likely to be conducted by an otolaryngologist or audiologist before conducting a hearing test.

Types of Speech and Special Senses Disorders

  • Loss of visual field: This happens due to impairment of visual field because the outer edge of your vision has been damaged. It may also be a result of distortion in your vision field’s central part. Common causes include optical neuropoathy, retinitis pigmentosa, and glaucoma.
  • Blindness: The SSA defines blindness as a visual impairment of 20/200 or worse, where any reasonable correction attempts have been rendered ineffective. Different tests may be conducted to determine your visual acuity.
  • Loss of visual efficiency: This refers to the loss of visual skills such as color perception, depth perception, and eye focusing speed. If loss of visual efficacy makes it difficult for you to carry out your job duties, you may be eligible to receive benefits.
  • Balance disorders: The vestibular system is the primary organ of balance that is located in the inner ear. If there is a dysfunction in that organ, it may cause balance issues, like vertigo, increasing the risk of falls and injuries.
  • Loss of hearing: If your hearing is at a 90-decibel threshold or higher, have percent or lower in a phonetic test showing word recognition deficiency, you may qualify for SSD benefits for loss of hearing.
  • Loss of speech: This may be a result of any mental or physical impairment.

If you want to make a claim for SSD benefits for special senses and speech related impairments, you should hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to help understand the Blue Book eligibility criteria and help you with you case. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

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