Rule Could Help Latino Farm Workers and Fishermen Obtain Disability


By Ivan Ramos Soler
Ivan Ramos Soler
As a Social Security Disability Lawyer, I am often asked to represent Latino workers who have spent most their life doing arduous physical work. These workers are part of a large migration that came to this country to work in industries such as: farming, fishing and landscaping. Due to the physical requirements of these jobs, many of these Latinos find that, after a certain age, they can no longer perform their regular occupation.
Fortunately, there is a somewhat obscure Social Security Disability Regulation that can help these workers obtain SSDI benefits. This regulation is commonly referred to as: the “Worn Out Worker Rule” and is contained in 20 C.F.R. 404.1562(a). In addition, Social Security Ruling 82-63 provides an in depth explanation of this useful disability law doctrine.
In order to meet the requirements of the Worn Out Worker Rule, a Social Security Claimant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have a marginal educational background. Under Social Security Rules, persons who have a formal schooling of six grade level or less are deemed to have a marginal education. With respect to Latino workers who do not speak English, it is important to note that under Social Security Rules, persons who cannot speak English are considered to have less than a marginal education.
  2. Must have performed 35 years or more of arduous physical labor.
  3. A severe medical condition prevents the claimant from performing his old job.

The advantage of the Worn Out Worker Rule is that a worker who meets its criteria can be found to be disabled even in cases where the worker has been released by his or her doctor to perform “medium exertional work”. This rule is extremely helpful to some of my clients who have spent most of their lives working in the nurseries and farms in Central Connecticut.
The worn out worker rule would also allow for many fisherman in New England, who would otherwise have their disability claim denied, to be awarded Social Security benefits.
Iván Ramos Soler has been practicing law since 1993. He has focused in labor law, employment discrimination and general civil litigation. His firm, Law Office of Ivan A. Ramos, is located in Hartford. This column was originally published on his blog, The Connecticut Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog.