Published on
Last updated on

Does Your Social Security Denial Say You Can Perform “Sedentary” Work? What On Earth Does That Mean?

So you’ve received a denial from the Social Security Administration saying that you are able to perform a full range of “sedentary” work.  But what exactly does this mean?

Webster’s dictionary defines “sedentary” as “doing or requiring much sitting, not physically active,” but in the context of your inidividual abilities in the workplace, Social Security is basically saying that you are capable of working a desk job.  Whether they are referring to simple data entry or even the surveillance of a video monitor, the term sedentary refers to some kind of job that requires very little physical exertion.

To be even more specific, sedentary work entails lifting and carrying to no more than ten pounds and sitting and standing is limited to approximately two hours total in an eight-hour workday.  In sedentary jobs, the majority of your time is spent sitting.  Therefore, sedentary work typically entails about six hours of sitting total in an eight-hour workday.

If you have problems sitting for prolonged periods of time and need to get up frequently as a result, more often than not, this would preclude you from a sedentary job.  In short, a sedentary job is Social Security’s version of a “desk job.”

In some cases, where the claimant is 50 years of age or older, even a classification of being able to perform sedentary work would not prohibit a person from being rendered disabled.  Social Security has created a set of guidelines known as the Medical Vocational Guidelines that dictate a finding of disability even if the person is deemed to be able to perform a simple desk job.  These guidelines are based on the individual’s age, education level and past work history.  Here is a perfect example:

Claimant is 53 years of age, has a high school education and has worked construction for the past 25 years.  The claimant’s initial application is denied at the first stage, but at the claimant’s hearing, the Administrative Law Judge finds that the claimant cannot return to his work as a laborer, but is able to do some kind of desk job.  Based on Medical Vocational Guideline 201.14, this claimant could be found disabled even though the Judge in this case has determined he would be able to perform a sedentary job.

This is but one of several legal theories that could lead you to a Fully Favorable decision for your disability case.  The Social Security uses a 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process to determine if someone is disabled and knowledge of these guidelines can only bolster your chances of success at the hearing level.