To determine your eligibility for disability benefits, the SSA will evaluate your ability to work or do other types of work. In general, being able to do less than the full range of sedentary work means you’re disabled enough to claim benefits.
But what exactly does sedentary work mean? More importantly, how will it affect your disability claim?
In this post, we’ll answer all those questions and more. Here’s everything you need to know about what sedentary work means for SSDI.
Defining Sedentary Work
Both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Social Security Agency (SSA) have their own definitions of sedentary work. Though they are generally saying the same thing.
According to the DOL guidelines, sedentary work means:
Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and/or a negligible amount of force frequently to lift, carry, push, pull, or otherwise move objects, including the human body. It involves sitting most of the time but may also require walking or standing occasionally for brief periods of time.
Occasionally, according to the same guideline, means it exists up to 1/3 of the time. While “frequently” denotes that it happens from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time.
The SSA expanded this definition. SSR 83-10 elaborates on the activities needed to carry out sedentary work, such as:
- lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and
- occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools
- although sitting is involved, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary for carrying out job duties, although they may only be required occasionally
- work performed primarily in a seated position entails no significant stooping
- if it’s an unskilled job, it requires good use of the hands and fingers for repetitive hand-finger actions
To sum it up, there are two parameters to determine if a job involves sedentary work:
- the amount of weight moved at work
- the relative frequency at which that activity, as well as walking and standing, occurs during working hours
If your job requires you to move or lift less than 10 pounds at a time or walk/stand only occasionally, then you are doing sedentary work.
RFC and Sedentary Work
Residual functional capacity (RFC) is the maximum amount of work you can do, given your impairment. It is a test usually carried out by the SSA to assess what kind of work you can still do.
The results of this test are then used to determine if you can do your past relevant work. If you can’t, the SSA will use it to determine if you can still adjust to other types of work.
Being able to do sedentary work is just one of the factors that the SSA evaluates during an RFC test. Aside from your physical capacity, the SSA will also consider your mental and other abilities that might be affected by your impairment. This includes any skin impairments as well as your vision, hearing, and other senses.
This is why being able to do less than sedentary work does not always mean you’re disabled. It’s just one of the factors considered to determine your disability. If you can’t meet the other requirements set forth by the SSA, your claim can get denied.
How Sedentary Work Affects Your SSDI Claim
If the SSA finds out that you can do sedentary work, your claim can get denied. It doesn’t matter if you’re working or not. Remember that the RFC test assesses your CAPACITY to work, not the actual work you’re doing.
Based on the definition above, there are lots of jobs that fall under “sedentary work”. So if your previous job cannot be considered sedentary work, you will be assigned a different job that can accommodate your impairment.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.