Four Examples of Sedentary Work And Why They May Not Apply to You

Four Examples of Sedentary Work And Why They May Not Apply to You

In order to win your appeal for Social Security disability, you must prove that your limitations from injury or illness prevent you from not only doing your recent job but any job that is also less demanding but within your ability to do. 

This is difficult, especially for younger people.  Social Security believes that younger claimants can adjust to sit down jobs even if they have an impairment. 

However, if you can prove that you can do less than sedentary work, you will have a great shot at winning your appeal for Social Security disability. 

Sedentary Work As an Alternative to Social Security Disability

Generally speaking, the following are going to be strong indicators that you can perform sedentary work:

  • You can lift more than ten pounds
  • You can stand or walk for more than a total of 2 hours combined
  • You can sit for 6 hours out of an 8 hour work day

If you can do a minimum of these three tasks on a daily basis, the Social Security Administration is going to be seeking to understand why you are unable to work, even at a reduced rate.  You should start making note of your specific limitations and how they might help you counter these questions.

Limitations That Might Prevent you to Perform Sedentary Work

Physical exertional limitations

  • Inability to do any of the above mentioned skills
  • Need the use of medical devices to help walk
  • Need to have leg elevated
  • Unable to use an arm due to amputation above the elbow

Non-exertional limitations

  • Needing to alternate sitting and standing
  • Need to rest or lie down
  • Cannot stoop or bend
  • Reduced ability to use hands and fingers
  • Need to take frequent sick days
  • Cannot balance (even on smooth surfaces)
  • Visual limitation
  • Cannot work in noise

Cognitive or Behavioral Health limitations that can affect the ability to do Sedentary work

  • Inability to focus and concentrate due to a prescribed pain medication
  • Difficulty performing simple, routine, unskilled tasks
  • Interference with completing tasks on time
  • Cannot get along with others or cannot respond appropriately to authority

In your disability appeal, the SSA will consult with a vocational expert (VE).  A vocational expert knows about job availability and the skills need to perform those jobs.  The VE will most likely be able to find jobs that you can still do, regardless of your condition; however, a seasoned and effective Social Security Disability Attorney will be able to push back and give you a stronger chance for overcoming the appeal than if you decide to do it yourself.

Four Examples of Sedentary Work

Example 1:

You are a 36-year-old who was a machinist for the past fifteen years.  You were in a car accident that caused a severe back injury, and you are unable to perform your job.  You can no longer lift more than 10 pounds.  When you applied for Social Security, you were denied because they said that you could perform sedentary work.  The vocational expert says that you can work as an administrative assistant.  However, this does not apply to you because you need to change sitting and standing positions every hour or you are in excruciating pain. 

Example 2:

You are a 52-year-old who was a teacher for the past 30 years.  You fell down the stairs and broke your leg in multiple places.  You had to have surgery and now need to take pain medication on a regular basis to function.  You can no longer stand long enough to teach, so you are unable to work anymore.  When you applied to Social Security for disability, you were denied due to your ability to perform sedentary work.  Your pain medications, however, cause you to be unable to focus or concentrate and complete a task in a timely manner. 

Example 3:

You are a 62-year-old woodworker.  You have been building cabinets since you were in your early twenties.  You have no formal education, only a high school diploma. You broke your back in an ATV accident when you were in your forties.  This caused lymphatic damage which turned into lymphodema causing your legs to swell and have poor circulation.  If you bump your leg, it breaks open easily and gets infected, so you can no longer work around wood and tools that can cause injury.  You also have a very difficult standing and lifting.  You applied for Social Security disability but were denied.  You were deemed able to perform sedentary work.  However, the medication that you are taking causes you to become dizzy and at times almost pass out.  You cannot bend without almost falling because you cannot balance. 

Example 4:

You are a 45-year-old, and you were a concrete worker. You hurt your back and can’t work anymore. You help out your wife at your home business by filing documents, answering calls, and responding to emails. You apply for Social Security and get denied.  Even though you do not get paid, Social Security determines that if you were getting paid you would make SGA and you are capable of performing sedentary work.  However, you use a script when answering the phone because your head is fuzzy from medications. You also only work about two hours during the day because you need to lie down and take a break because your back hurts so much.  

In all four examples, you were told that you were able to perform sedentary work, but again in all four examples, sedentary work did not necessarily apply to you.  In these cases, and similar situations, you want to contact a disability attorney asap to help you prove that you are unable to perform sedentary work.

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5 Questions to Ask your Social Security Disability Attorney

5 Questions to ask your Social Security Disability Attorney

 

The process of obtaining Social Security can be time consuming, stressful, and confusing. 

Whether you’re filing your initial disability claim or working with a Social Security Disability Attorney on an appeal to a denial of your claim, you may still not have much personal knowledge of where you are in the process. 

For this reason, we put together this list of 5 questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney about your claim. 


A Primer on Social Security Disability

Before we cover the five questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney, let’s get a brief overview of what a social security disability insurance is and why it is so important to hire an attorney for it.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that works in favor for people who are severely ill or physically impaired to provide them with monthly support in the form of financial compensation.   A Social Security disability attorney helps you in planning out your appeal and represents you in any administrative law hearings related to it.  The amount of work a Social Security attorney may end up doing on your behalf could vary widely depending on the particulars of your claim and/or appeal.  So, as you’re considering who you want to work with, you may also want to consider these five questions to ask your (potential) Social Security disability attorney as well.

 

What Other Benefits Do I Qualify For? 

The primary benefit you’re seeking with Social Security disability is compensation.  Monthly income.  In some cases, you may qualify for additional benefits or even compensation through other benefits programs, in addition to SSDI.

These could include some retirement benefits, long term disability benefits through a private insurer (or your previous employer), VA service-connected disability compensation, and more.  You should also look at state and local benefits that may be available.  This is yet another great reason to work with a local disability attorney.  They will have a better understanding of what might be available locally, as well as a firm grasp on how Social Security disability interacts with other federal and commercial financial benefits.

Ask your social security disability attorney what you qualify for and what benefits may be provided to you along with the social security disability benefits.

 

What Can I Do To Help My Own claim?

The first thing you need to understand is that most applicants are denied on their first attempt. So the first thing to do is not to panic. However, if you and your Social Security disability attorney stick with your claim, it is likely you’ll eventually find success in your claim.  To help your attorney they’ll probably ask you for all your recent medical records and all paperwork that can help you in your case.  These represent objective facts, and are hard to argue against – that’s why your attorney wants to have them available.

However, there are truths about your claim that may not be represented on paper.  You may know things that your attorney doesn’t know about your claim.  An astute attorney will know what kind of information you might still have, that they need.  But it requires two-way communication.  The best way to start that is to ask how you can help in the first place.

 

How Will We Plan to Prepare for a Hearing?

The Social Security hearing is a stressful event for most claimants.  Planning ahead will help everyone involved.  However, do a quick google search and read a few reviews of Social Security attorneys.  The low reviews almost always state something to the effect of, “attorney met with me two hours before hearing,” or, “attorney met me the day before hearing, that’s the only time we talked.  Didn’t know my claim at all!”

This happens often enough that it’s almost the norm… Though, it shouldn’t be.  You can pre-empt this nightmare scenario by asking your Social Security disability attorney, “how will we plan to prepare for a hearing?”  If they can’t lay out a process that makes sense, they may be putting you in front of a judge at some point, unprepared.  Be aware of attorneys without plans.

 

How Do You Prefer We Stay in Contact?

Communication is vital in dealing with a Social Security disability denial and all the events, and coordination an appeal to it requires. That is why you and your Social Security disability attorney should decide the best possible form of contact.

Whether the communication plan is face to face meetings, emails, traditional mail, fax, text message, or smoke signals, you need to lay out a system that enables effectiveness.  And it needs to work for both of you.

 

Do You Have All My Doctors’ Contact Information?

It is very important to give all the healthcare information you have to your Social Security disability attorney. This means all your medical records, related documents plus all your doctors’ contact details. This should also include their contact number, office address and in some cases, home address for emergency situations.

Make a personal copy of all this information too, to keep for your own records, and to provide as a source for future copies needed by another attorney (if need be), other benefits providers, and/or for other reasons not yet realized, such as a will or estate plan.

 

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