Sitting or standing limitations may qualify you for disability benefits in Virginia and West Virginia

I frequently work with Virginia and West Virginia disability clients who have found that they can no longer perform their job because it requires either too much sitting or too much standing and walking.

When the Social Security Administration evaluates a disability claim it begins by considering whether the condition that the claim is based on matches one of the conditions in its “Listing of Impairments.” If the condition doesn’t fit well within one of the recognized listings then the Social Security Administration looks at what it refers to as “residual functional capacity” to determine whether the person is still able to work despite the impairment.

For people whose primary problem is that their ability to sit or stand for long periods of time has become limited, the key issue for their qualification for Social Security disability benefits often becomes whether or not there is some job that they are able to perform.

The ability to sit or stand affects your “residual functional capacity” for your Social Security disability claim

Being unable to perform your job is not enough for the Social Security Administration. Even after you convince the Social Security Administration that you have an impairment that disables you in some way, it will evaluate what you can still do. That is, it will determine whether or not you can perform any job that you have done in the past 15 years, or even any other job that you have never done.

This evaluation of what you can do (your “residual functional capacity” in the words of the Social Security Administration) involves a consideration of all your medical impairments, and then a judgment of what work that you might be able to do.

The Social Security Administration specifically recognizes that various problems with sitting or standing can limit what you can do so much that you simply cannot do some jobs. One of the regulations of the Social Security Administration says:

A limited ability to perform certain physical demands of work activity, such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, or other physical functions…may reduce your ability to do past work and other work.

Therefore, if you are unable to either sit or stand for long periods of time, or if you have some specialized requirement such as needing to sit in a special chair that is not available at a job, then your residual functional capacity is limited.

Sitting and standing requirements vary with the type of work

The Social Security Administration evaluates your residual functional capacity within the context of three different work levels: sedentary work, light work, and medium work. These different levels are specifically defined, and they each have different levels of exertion.

The least physically demanding work is sedentary work. However, sedentary work generally requires the capacity for prolonged sitting. In fact, a Social Security ruling has recognized that in sedentary work sitting “should generally total approximately six hours of an eight-hour workday.” If you have trouble sitting for too long at one time, or if you need to have your feet elevated or sit in a reclining chair then your residual functional capacity may not be compatible with most sedentary jobs.

The Social Security Administration characterizes light work as requiring the ability to stand up to six hours in an eight hour day. If you have difficulty standing for prolonged periods of time then your residual functional capacity will preclude most light work jobs.

If you have trouble either sitting or standing, then it is probably necessary for you to periodically alternate between those two positions. In that situation the Social Security Administration generally asks for an opinion from a Vocational Expert about whether there is a job that you can perform that will allow you to alternate between sitting and standing.

Get knowledgeable help with your disability claim in Virginia or West Virginia

Particularly if you end up dealing with the opinion of a Vocational Expert, you need careful attention to detail and the guidance of a knowledgeable disability lawyer to develop the best possible case for your Social Security disability claim.

If you are not already represented by a Virginia or West Virginia Social Security disability attorney and want my evaluation of your case, give me a brief description of your claim using the form to the right.

Or you may e-mail or call my Winchester Virginia office at:

J. David Black
Virginia and West Virginia Social Security disability attorney

E-mail
Phone: 540-667-1266
Toll free: 1-866-538-0568
Fax: 540-667-1312

21 S. Loudoun St.
Winchester, Virginia 22601-5051