Truck drivers have one of the most important jobs in the national economy. How would you get your guacamole or coffee if truck drivers didn’t exist? We would be very hungry and tired if there were no truck drivers. They work long hours, have skills that most people don’t possess, and courage that most people don’t exhibit. I personally would not even attempt to control 40 tons of speeding metal.
But drivers are not super-human. The job is tough and can break someone’s body down over time. I have represented many of them throughout the years, and have seen many orthopedic injuries that came from their work. But how can they get injured? Truck drivers just sit behind the wheel all day, right? Wrong!
Trucking is almost always an extremely physical job. A trucker has to be able to hook and unhook his/her rig, load and unload the goods, and constantly shift gears. Not to mention the strength it takes to turn the wheel and the relentless jarring when the truck hits bumps. As a result, truckers can end up with shoulder injuries, degenerative spine disorders, knee injuries, among other severe medical problems.
So how easy is it for truck drivers to get disability? Well, it’s almost never easy for anyone to get disability. If a trucker works for a company that carries Short Term Disability and Long Term Disability for it’s employees, then it may be realistic to expect payments from those sources if a trucker can’t work. Social Security Disability is the most difficult of all, because the trucker must prove he/she will be disabled for 12 months or more (or expected to die from the disability) and unable to perform any job in the national economy that he/she is suited for.
For a driver under 50 who can read and write, Social Security assumes that he/she can adjust to any job in the national economy. That means the trucker would have to prove he/she can’t medically perform jobs such as ticket taker at a movie theater, security video monitor at a car dealership, among about 2,500 others. This is a very difficult, but not impossible, standard to overcome.
For a driver over 50, it gets a bit easier unless the driver has experience doing a sedentary-type job in the 15 years before he/she became disabled. A driver without sedentary work history (or recent education) would only have to prove he/she couldn’t do light duty jobs such as a parking lot signaler or the aforementioned ticket-taker.
A driver over 55 has the best chance of getting Social Security disability, although it still isn’t easy. It’s easier as long as the driver does not have any light duty or sedentary-type job experience (or recent education) in the 15 years before becoming disabled. Most truck driving jobs are considered medium duty jobs, in other words, jobs where someone has to lift 25 pounds most of the day and 50 pounds occasionally during the day. If Social Security classifies the driver’s job as medium, then he/she only has to prove an inability to do that job and other medium duty jobs, such as cook or house cleaner.
Truckers are usually very good clients for me because they are so dedicated to their jobs. If they are at the point where they can’t work anymore, it is because they have very severe medical problems, usually orthopedic in nature. When truckers come into my office I know that they aren’t lying about the pain they have to endure. That usually means I can take the case without hesitation or wondering about what is going to pop up in the medical records.
Disclaimer: This post is for general information only. Your situation may be different and trust me, disability law is extremely complicated. It is always best to consult an attorney and you will usually get at least one free consultation.