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Sedentary Work in Social Security Disability and Workers Compensation

Posted by James Aspell | May 14, 2024 | 0 Comments

Understanding Sedentary Work According to Social Security and Workers Compensation

Gain insights into Social Security's definition of sedentary work, its implications on your disability or workers comp case, and strategies to demonstrate that you cannot perform a full range of sedentary work or your pre-injury job.

The Role of Physical Capabilities in Disability and Workers Comp Law

Your ability to perform specific work activities despite an injury or medical impairment significantly impacts Social Security disability and workers comp decisions.

For instance, your exertional (strength) capabilities often determine:

  • Whether you qualify for Social Security disability (SSDI or SSI) based on the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) medical-vocational grid rules.
  • If you can return to your pre-injury job, which may influence your employer to cease workers compensation benefits.
  • The difficulty insurers or claims administrators (like Sedgwick, ESIS, Gallagher Bassett) face in finding a suitable light-duty job, affecting the settlement value of your claim.

Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS)

Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ORS provides detailed information about job-related physical demands, cognitive, and mental requirements across the national economy. It categorizes jobs into five strength levels: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy, terms frequently used in disability evaluations and workers comp cases.

This guide covers:

  • Definitions of sedentary work by federal agencies and workers comp administrators.
  • The implications of being deemed capable of sedentary work on your SSDI or workers comp case.
  • Methods to prove you are unable to perform all sedentary job roles if required for benefits.

Effective Representation and Evidence Gathering

Proving what you can and cannot do, and managing return-to-work issues, are essential to securing and maintaining disability and income replacement benefits.

Free Consultation

For questions or a complimentary consultation, contact us today. We have a proven track record of helping clients achieve successful outcomes. Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Detailed Topics

  1. Defining Sedentary Work

    • Common misconceptions about sedentary work often arise. Unlike the general negative perception related to sedentary lifestyles, in legal terms, it pertains to specific job requirements in disability and workers comp claims.
  2. Social Security's Definition of Sedentary Work

    • According to SSR 83-10, sedentary work involves:
      • Lifting no more than ten pounds.
      • Occasionally lifting or carrying small items like tools or files.
      • Mostly sitting, with occasional walking and standing.
      • No significant stooping and limited lifting or carrying.
  3. Implications of Being Found Capable of Sedentary Work by Social Security

    • If Disability Determination Services or an administrative law judge concludes you can do sedentary work, they believe you can handle most tasks at that exertional level. They will then examine if your past relevant work fits sedentary criteria.
  4. Examples of Sedentary Jobs

    • Social Security references the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and O*Net for job descriptions, though some sources are outdated. Common sedentary roles include architectural drafters, bill collectors, and human resources assistants.
  5. Proving Inability to Perform Sedentary Work

    • Demonstrating that you cannot perform sedentary work involves documenting limitations in sitting, head movement, cognitive functions, vision, and other physical and mental capacities. This evidence is crucial in disability and workers comp claims.
  6. Workers Compensation vs. Social Security's Definition of Sedentary Work

    • While similar, workers comp focuses on whether you can perform all tasks of your pre-injury job, not just most of them. Detailed job descriptions and medical opinions are vital in proving your case.

Getting Expert Legal Help

Ensuring accurate classification of your work capabilities and past employment is key to maximizing your benefits. Incorrect findings or insufficient evidence can result in significant financial loss.

Choose to focus on your recovery while we handle your case.

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About the Author

James Aspell

Principal since August 1, 2006 James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut. Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...


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