If you are under the age of 50, and you speak English and are able to read, then your ability to do sedentary work is likely to be an issue in your case. (The same holds true if you are over the age of 50 and you have transferable skills). “Sedentary” work is work that requires lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying lighter items, like files or small tools. In addition, sedentary work generally involves sitting for most of the workday (approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour day), with occasional walking and/or standing (totaling not more than 2 hours of an 8-hour workday).

Proving you cannot do sedentary work is a high hurdle, but it is not impossible to clear. Here is the key question: Despite the limitations caused by your impairment, can you do a full-time sedentary job? If the answer is no, then you are “disabled’ and an award of benefits is justified. To put it another way, even if you are able to do sedentary work for a short period of time, if you cannot hold a sedentary job on a full-time basis — 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, week after week — while keeping pace with your co-workers and meeting basic quality standards, then you are “disabled” and entitled to benefits.

If your ability to do sedentary work is an issue in your case, we will talk with you about the nature and severity of your symptoms and seek to identify the full extent of your limitations. For example, we might ask you about all of the following:

  • Do you have neck, back or leg pain or other symptoms that make it difficult for you to sit for long periods of time;
  • Do you have to alternate between periods of sitting and standing or walking?
  • Do you need to elevate your legs periodically throughout the day or lie down and rest?
  • Are you flexible enough to bend and stoop?
  • Do you have full flexibility and dexterity in your hands and fingers?
  • Is your vision impaired, such that it would be difficult for you to work with small objects and/or to safely avoid workplace hazards?
  • Do you have environmental restrictions (e.g., restrictions related to noise or dust or other respiratory irritants)?
  • Do you have a mental impairment that might impact, for example, your ability to accept supervision and get along with co-workers; to adapt to change; to concentrate; or to remember and follow instructions?
  • Do you deal with any of the following on a daily, regular or ongoing basis: medication side-effects; dizziness; headaches; pain; bladder or bowel problems; or seizures?

All of these factors may impact your ability to do sedentary work. Once we know the true extent of your limitations, we can gather evidence to present a persuasive argument that you are unable to do a full-time sedentary job and, therefore, should be awarded disability benefits.

If you have questions about sedentary work, please call us. We’ll be happy to discuss this aspect of your case with you.