Helping People With Disabilities Nationwide

Getting to Sedentary

by | Apr 30, 2023 | SSD - Social Security Disability |

In evaluating a disability claim, Social Security adjudicators must determine your residual functional capacity (RFC), that is, the most you can do despite your limitations. The Social Security Administration classifies work exertions as very heavy, heavy, medium, light, or sedentary. Sedentary work requires occasional lifting up to 10 pounds and only occasional standing or walking — about 2 hours in an 8-hour workday. An RFC for less than sedentary work reflects serious limitations and is expected to be relatively rare.[1] However, after age 50 the medical-vocational guidelines make it easier to get approved, provided there are no transferable skills. Therefore, knowing how to convince a judge that you have a sedentary RFC is important.

As many vocational experts will testify that there are still light jobs that permit maximum lifting of 10 pounds, it may be better to focus testimony on standing and walking limitations. Osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, neuropathy, chondromalacia of the knee, hip bursitis, and avascular necrosis are common diagnoses that severely impact the ability to walk or stand. For impairments of the foot or ankle, an adjudicator may want to see evidence from a specialist. The Administration recognizes podiatrists as acceptable medical sources, but only for ailments concerning the foot, or foot and ankle, depending on the state in which the podiatrist practices.[2]

The ability to stand or walk for longer than 2 hours in a workday could also be affected by morbid obesity. The Administration will consider a person’s obesity, alone or in combination with another impairment, if it significantly affects his or her ability to do basic work activities.[3] Use of a cane or assistive device for standing, walking, or balancing will also typically warrant a sedentary RFC, though medical evidence must support the need for such a device.

To increase your chances of approval, you may want to consult with an attorney or law firm specializing in Social Security disability claims.

[1] SSR 96-9p

[2] 20 CFR 404.1502(a)(4).

[3] SSR 19-2p



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