There is an offbeat little provision in the Social Security regulations that grants benefits for a worker who fits a particular vocational profile. This is the "worn out worker" rule. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1562(a).
The rule has 3 requirements for claimants:
- a marginal education,
- 35 years or more of only arduous unskilled physical labor,
- the claimant is unable to do this kind of work because of a severe impairment(s).
Social Security Ruling 82-63 clarifies the requirements of the regulation, and is a must-read if you have a claimant who may meet the criteria of the rule.
For many situations, the same result would be reached by the Medical-Vocational Guidlelines. However, a worn out worker would still be found disabled at the medium exertional level if he could no longer do his past work, because the worn out worker rule would be used rather than the grid rules. Ruling 82-63 states that section 404.1562 is a "pre-grid" rule, and must be applied prior to the numbered rules of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines.
A mine worker, a farm worker and a commercial fisherman are examples of workers that might benefit from this rule.