You applied for Social Security benefits.
You receive a denial letter and in it, it says that you can perform sedentary work.
What does this mean? What can you do?
What is Sedentary Work?
When Social Security reviews your case, they look at the medical evidence that has been submitted. They use the “grid”, a system developed by SSA to decide if a person is able to work based on the highest level of their job. And they determine if you can perform sedentary work, light work, or medium work.
If you are determined to be able to do sedentary work, this means you are able to perform a sit-down job. A job that would require you to lift up to 10 lbs., occasionally carry objects such as files and be able to walk or stand for up to two hours at a time.
This article will give you several examples of sedentary work, and how the SSA will view your capacity to do sedentary work.
Medical consultants at SSA assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC) level on work. They use this to see if you are able to do work by using the grid (above). The grid determines your level of disability based on age, education, RFC level, previous work experience, and transferability of skills.
Based on what the grid says, you may be granted or denied benefits.
For example, if you are 50 and are deemed able to do sedentary work and have a college degree, then you will not qualify for disability benefits because the grid determines you are still employable, even in a reduced state. You can appeal this!
What can I do?
If you truly are unable to perform sedentary work, then you are going to need to prove it. If you do not already have a disability lawyer, now would be a good time to get one. A lawyer can help you gather the information needed in order to prove that you can not even do sedentary work.
Your lawyer will use your medical records, doctor’s opinions, your testimony and anything else they will show why you can’t do various sedentary jobs. The SSA can only use the evidence and symptoms indicated in your medical records so it is important for you to have your doctor note any and all symptoms you may be experiencing.
You will need to prove that you cannot:
- Lift up to 10 pounds
- Stand or walk for more than 2 hours a day
- Walk without the use of medical hand-held devices (cane, walker, etc.)
- Sit for 6 hours out of an 8-hour work-day
Other things that can prove that you can only do less than sedentary work are:
- Needing to alternate sitting and standing through the day
- Needing to rest or lie down
- Inability to stoop or bend
- Reduced ability in use of hands or fingers
- Taking frequent sick days
- Unable to balance on smooth surfaces
- Visual limitations
- Unable to work in noisy environments
- Unable to follow short, simple instructions
- Inappropriate interaction with supervisors and co-workers
- Not able to maintain hygiene
- Cannot handle work stress
- Off task for more than 15% of the work day
Unfortunately, even citing many of these will not stop the SSA from finding some job (even random) that you will be able to perform.
The SSA uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to determine what types of jobs you may qualify for. You might notice…a large portion of these jobs are non-existent jobs such as telegraph-service rater, microfilm processor, and telephone quotation clerk.
It is important that you have you a good attorney that can help you contest the jobs if they are one of those that are not actual jobs anymore, or if there are aspects of your impairment that you may not realize will become notable during your appeal.