Can I Get Social Security Disability if I Used to Work as a Steel Worker?

Disability Benefits for Steel Workers

Steelworkers, also known as iron workers or metalworkers, are responsible for the fabrication and erection of steel building components. These highly-skilled professionals use girders and trusses and steel and iron beams to create skeletons for bridges and buildings. Steelworkers are also responsible for installing metal components that reinforce concrete and masonry structures. These individuals often work outdoors at construction sites, but they can also work indoors at metal fabrication plants.

Prior to a steel structure being erected, the components of the structure must be cut down to size and pre-drilled to prepare the components for installation. Steelworkers perform this work at steel plants and welding shops. The prepared materials are then delivered to a construction site where the steelworkers move the steel components into their proper places. Once the materials have been put into place, they are welded or bolted by a steelworker who has been trained in that specific area of work.

Steelworkers are a part of The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, also known as the United Steelworkers or USW. This union is the largest industrial labor union in North America, with more than 705,000 members listed.

In order to be a steel worker, an individual must be able to verify the vertical and horizontal alignments of the components of the steel structures they are building. The job also requires the ability to hoist steel beams and girders, and put them into their proper places using machinery and tools. These workers must also have the mental capacity to use plumb bobs, laser equipment and other highly-technical trade tools. Not only do these tasks require steelworkers to have significant physical dexterity, but sharp mental focus as well.

Employment as a steelworker is inherent to a variety of risks. In fact, iron and steel worker jobs are listed as one of the top ten dangerous jobs in America. Steelworkers can suffer injury due to falls, chemical exposure, falling equipment and other hazardous conditions. Injuries that can occur on and off the job may leave a steelworker unable to obtain employment in his or her trained field.

Working with a Disability as a Steelworker

Individuals who are trained as steelworkers often find themselves unable to maintain full-time work activity due to an illness or injury. In some cases, a disability may occur due to an injury acquired on the job. It is not uncommon for a steelworker to suffer from a disability that is due to a fall from a structure or an impact from one of the steel components they are working with. These hard-working individuals are left “stranded,” wondering how they are going to make ends meet for themselves and their families. In many cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help.

Oftentimes steelworkers have a deeply embedded work ethic. Because of this, they will do everything and anything possible to try to find work activity to offset the financial burden that their disability is causing. It is not uncommon for a steelworker to try to maintain work activity, which could actually cause their disability to become worse depending on the nature of the illness or injury. In these cases, it is crucial that steelworkers apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits through the Social Security Administration.

When the Social Security Administration reviews a claim for SSI and SSDI disability benefits, they will be looking for medical evidence that proves that the steelworker is no longer able to perform any type of work in the national economy. When a steelworker applies for disability benefits, the SSA will take the age of the applicant, the level of the applicant's education, their occupational history and severity of the steelworker's disability into account to determine whether there is any other type of work that the applicant may be able to perform. If the Social Security Administration, after reviewing these facts, determines that the steelworker is completely and totally disabled, Social Security Disability benefits will be granted and the applicant will begin receiving monthly payments from the Social Security Administration. The problem is, steelworkers possess jobs that are considered to be highly skilled. This can, at times, make it harder for steelworkers to qualify for the Social Security Disability benefits they need.

Applying for Social Security Disability as a Steelworker

If you have spent your life performing work as a steelworker and are suddenly unable to maintain your employment activity due to a long-term or permanent disability, you should consider filing for SSDI benefits with the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. While the initial application process only takes three to four months to complete, the majority of applicants will need to endure the lengthy and complex disability appeal process before being awarded the benefits they may be entitled to.

In many cases, steelworkers will be denied benefits at the initial application stage of the Social Security Disability claim process. This is not because the steelworker is not suffering from a disability, but is usually due to the fact that the adjudicator reviewing the claim assumes that the steelworker can take his or her skills to a less strenuous type of job. Unfortunately, these adjudicators do not understand just how hard it can be to take skills that a steelworker possesses and apply those skills to another type of work activity. The adjudicator may also not understand the full extent of the steelworker's disability.

Prior to filing your claim for Social Security Disability benefits, you may want to consider retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney or advocate. These professionals can help you through the disability claim process and will ensure that your application for benefits is submitted with sufficient medical evidence and in the best light possible, increasing your chances for approval at the initial application stage of the disability claim process.

If your initial claim for disability benefits is denied, statistics show that hiring an advocate or Social Security Disability attorney to represent you at your disability hearing does indeed increase your chances of being awarded disability benefits by the Social Security Administration. These professionals can help the administrative law judge presiding over your case understand the extent of your disability and why you are unable to continue any type of work activity. They can also hire vocational experts to testify on your behalf, explaining to the court why your skills as a steelworker cannot be transferred to another job and how your disability completely prevents you from working.

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