Help!  Social Security Thinks I Can Perform Sedentary Work

Help!  Social Security Thinks I Can Perform Sedentary Work

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.

You can review the “Grid” system that SSA uses, here.

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!

Appeal a Denial For Disability!

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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.

Can You File a Social Security Disability Claim for Pseudoclaudication?

Can You File a Social Security Disability Claim for Pseudoclaudication

Do you suffer from excruciating back pain?  Is it making it difficult for you to work?

You may be wondering if you can file for social security disability if you suffer from Pseudocladication. 

Let’s look at the qualifications of social security disability. 

What Is Pseudoclaudication?

The term pseudoclaudication is used to describe a condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), which causes inflammation of the nerves emanating from a person’s spinal cord. This condition occurs when your spinal canal narrows in the lower part of your back. Bone spurs, bulging disks, or a thickening of the ligaments in the back of the spinal canal may all be to blame. The most common symptoms of pseudoclaudication include tingling or cramping in the lower back, the hips, legs, or the buttocks. You may also feel heaviness or weakness in your legs.

The roots of the nerves that control the movement of your legs pass through narrow areas in the spinal canal. If those passages become too narrow, it may put pressure on the roots of those nerves, causing pain. The pain could intensify while standing or walking and can often be relieved by sitting or lying down.

How to Qualify for a Disability with a Spinal Disorder Including Pseudoclaudication

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits related to pseudoclaudication, you first must be diagnosed by a physician with one of the following disorders:

Nerve Root Compression

Nerve Root Compression is usually caused by a herniated disc or a pinched nerve in the back. This condition can result in limited motion in their spine, muscle weakness, or reflex loss; all of which play into the discussion of how the symptoms might prevent you from earning a wage.

Spinal Arachnoiditis

This disorder results from inflammation of the arachnoid – one of the several membranes that protect the nerves of the spinal cord. One of the keys to seeking Social Security Disability when you have this condition is to ensure that you have a confirmed diagnosis by a physician performing; either a tissue biopsy or an MRI scan.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This condition may be caused by degenerative arthritis. To qualify for SSDI benefits with a diagnosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis you usually must have limited motor control, muscle weakness accompanied by pseudoclaudication, or spinal stenosis. This condition must typically be documented by a T scan, an MRI scan, or an x-ray.

Lumbar stenosis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. However, some doctors may suggest surgical treatment for these types of conditions if other non-surgical treatments have failed to work for the patient.

What Medical Evidence is Required For Pseudoclaudication?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will request/need your medical records from the doctor that is currently treating you for pseudoclaudication or related conditions. These records should include an imaging test that confirms the diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

The records should reflect that a doctor has done a complete and detailed physical exam; including, testing your reflexes, muscle strength, range of motion, and your ability to walk, bend, squat and rise.

Medical records should also show whether nerve root compression is causing pain, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, or limited range of motion.

Other Considerations for SSDI Claims for Pseudoclaudication

When filling out an application for disability benefits, you need to include descriptions of how your back pain and impairment affects your ability to work. You also need to describe how it impacts your overall daily life. Do not forget how back considerations may cause you to be experiencing behavioral health conditions, such as depression or anxiety due to chronic pain. Be sure to list all of your symptoms that you are currently experiencing.  For help, here is a step by step discussion about disability claims and appeals.

Clearly, there are many hoops to jump through when back conditions are the basis for a Social Security Disability claim (or appeal). Reading blogs like this can be helpful in gaining a better understanding. We hope it is at least. However, reaching out to a good disability attorney is also something you might want to consider. If you have any of these conditions, pseudoclaudication – etc., send us a message. We will help you figure out how to approach a Social Security Disability claim or appeal.