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Can I Get Social Security Disability if I Used to Work as a Heavy Equipment Operator?

Disability Benefits for Heavy Equipment Operators

Heavy equipment operators have challenging careers. These individuals work with big, heavy and oftentimes very loud machinery. They operate a variety of equipment types such as bulldozers, cranes, backhoes, loaders and grading machines. The tasks these individuals face are not without their challenges. Not only must the heavy equipment operators concentrate on the jobs they are performing, but they must also ensure that all safety regulations are followed and that the job site around them remains safe when they are performing their work duties.

In addition to operating heavy equipment, the heavy equipment operators at a construction site must also check the equipment on a regular basis, ensuring that all necessary repairs are made and that all of the machinery is oiled properly and in perfect running condition. That means that in addition to understanding how to run heavy equipment, the operators must also understand how the machines work and what maintenance must be performed to keep the machines operating properly.

While many people assume that a career as a heavy equipment operator is not as dangerous as many of the other jobs in the construction field, this couldn't be further from the truth. Just because heavy equipment operators spend most of their days sitting in the cab of a machine does not mean the job is without risk. These individuals can suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders caused from prolonged sitting and exposure to constant vibration. They can also suffer from lung and respiratory disorders that result from exposure to exhaust within the machine's cab. Many heavy equipment operators also suffer from hearing and vision loss due to the work conditions of their environments. When disabilities occur that prevent a heavy equipment operator from performing his or her job, Social Security Disability benefits may be the only thing that help these individuals pay for their basic living expenses.

Working with a Disability as a Heavy Equipment Operator

Some heavy equipment operators who suffer from disability due to an illness or injury do not want to remove themselves from the workforce. Instead, they try to find work in other careers that would not be affected by their disabling conditions. Depending on the age of the disabled worker and the extent of the disability, this may indeed be possible. However, it is not always possible for a heavy equipment operator to change careers once a disability has occurred.

If you are suffering from a disability that is preventing you from performing work as a heavy equipment operator, you may want to consider training for another type of job if you feel that you do not want to stop working. Providing construction estimates or performing other administrative tasks, such as billing may be possible. In some cases, however, a disabled heavy equipment operator is unable to train for a different type of career and must rely on Social Security Disability benefits in order to make ends meet.

Applying for Social Security Disability as a Heavy Equipment Operator

The skill set of a heavy equipment operator is very job specific. Because of this, you may have an increased chance of being approved for Social Security Disability benefits if your condition prevents you from being trained for another type of work activity. If, however, it is likely that you could pursue training or education for another type of career, your application for Social Security Disability benefits may be denied. The reason for this is that the Social Security Administration is not interested in whether or not you can continue working as a heavy equipment operator when evaluating your claim for disability benefits. Instead, they want to know if it is possible for you to perform any type of work activity at all in the national economy.

Let's say, for example, that you suffered serious musculoskeletal injuries, such as a bone fracture. If you are young and can be trained to work in a career that would not be affected by those injuries, your application for Social Security Disability benefits is likely to be denied. If, however, you are in your forties or fifties and your injuries prevent you from performing a job that requires your current skill set, you will likely be approved for SSDI disability benefits.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must be able to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are unable to perform any type of work at all – not just a job as a heavy equipment operator. In order to do this, you may want to enlist the help of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate. These individuals can help you complete your disability application, ensuring that the Social Security Administration understands the extent of your disability and how it prevents you from performing any type of gainful work activity. If, for some reason, your disability claim is denied, your attorney or advocate can represent you through the complex disability appeal process.