Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Barker had worked as a laborer all his life and had almost no education. He could not read or write. He was working as truck driver and backhoe operator, which required all kinds of heavy manual labor, when he injured his back while lifting a drain pipe that weighed approximately 150 lbs. After treatment, he was placed on strict work restrictions that basically prevented him from being employed in any time of manual labor position.

The issue was whether the ALJ should be allowed to consider Barker’s lack of education when determining permanent and total disability.

He could not perform manual labor, but his work restrictions would not have prevented him from taking a sedentary job. The ALJ concluded that it must take the employee as it found him, which included his inability to read and write. Therefore, even after the Employer offered him literacy classes, the ALJ determined that Barker could not compete on the open labor market and was permanently and totally disabled. The commission confirmed this decision.