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Home » Glossary » Sedentary Work

Definition of Sedentary Work

Sedentary work, according to the SSA, "is work which does not require a claimant to lift more than ten pounds and can include occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools." The SSA also notes that a sedentary job is primarily a job in which the claimant sits for the majority of the day. Some jobs, however, may have a small degree of walking and standing, which is required to perform the work.

Sedentary work is one level of classification used by the SSA when evaluating the physical exertion requirements for jobs in the national economy. Other classifications of work include light, medium, heavy, and very heavy.

The SSA will consider classifications of work within the disability evaluation process when they are evaluating the claimant's residual capacity to work and to determine the highest level of work the claimant can do on a regular and continual basis (eight hours a day, five days a week). The evaluation is done by analyzing the claimant's current medical records. This information is generally used after the SSA has determined the claimant's condition does not meet or exceed a listing, and they are trying to determine, through a medical vocational allowance, if the claimant has the ability to do their current job, their previous job(s), or retrain for new work.

So, for example, if the claimant has previously performed heavy work, but the SSA acknowledges they can no longer perform this type of job, they will determine if the claimant could now perform light work. If the claimant cannot perform light work, the SSA may determine they could perform sedentary work. If the SSA determines the claimant could do sedentary work they will decide they are not disabled and deny their SSI or SSDI case. Claimants can appeal the SSA decision, but they will need to provide additional evidence that they also cannot perform sedentary work.

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