Challenges facing younger (under age 50) Social Security disability applicants

In evaluating your application for Connecticut disability benefits, the Social Security Administration considers your age and your “residual functional capacity” – that is, your ability to function despite the limitations caused by your impairment – to be the two most important factors in its disability determination. Residual functional capacity is quantified in terms of work levels – sedentary work, light work, and medium work. If you applying, or considering applying, for Connecticut disability benefits, and you are under the age of 50, then you will have to establish that you cannot do a range of sedentary work (the easiest, least physically demanding type of work) that exists in the Connecticut region or in significant numbers in the national economy in order to be found “disabled” under the Social Security laws.

“Sedentary” work defined

The Social Security regulations define “sedentary work” as work that involves “lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers and small tools. Sedentary jobs may require occasional walking and standing. Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of the hands and fingers for repetitive hand-finger actions. Periods of standing or walking should generally total no more than about 2 hours of an 8-hour workday, and sitting should generally total approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday.”

Demonstrate limited ability for sedentary work

In order to be found “disabled,” a Connecticut Social Security disability applicant under the age of 50 must demonstrate an inability, or a limited ability, to meet the job requirements for sedentary work. Thus, you must prove that you are limited in your ability to sit, stand, lift, carry and use your hands and fingers. The more limited you are, the more limited the range of sedentary work you can do. Common factors that demonstrate a limited capacity for sedentary work include:

Limited manual dexterity

Most unskilled sedentary jobs require bilateral manual dexterity, which means you must have good use of both hands and all of your fingers, allowing you to manipulate small objects. The ability to reach for objects and handle objects with one or both hands also is often required. Thus, the range of sedentary work that is available to you will be reduced if you can establish that you have significantly limited manual dexterity.

Limited ability to sit, stand or walk

The full range of sedentary work requires the ability to sit for prolonged periods of time.
If your condition requires that you stand and walk periodically, and this need cannot be accommodated by employer-scheduled breaks, then the range of sedentary work you are capable of performing will be significantly eroded. Conversely, if you are unable to stand and walk for approximately two hours each workday, this will restrict the range of sedentary jobs you can perform.

Limited ability to lift and carry

As defined by the Social Security regulations, sedentary work requires the ability to lift and carry small objects. If you use a cane or other assistive device for walking or standing, this may reduce your capacity for sedentary work.

Limited vision

The number of sedentary jobs available to you will be greatly reduced if you have
a visual impairment that makes it difficult for you to manipulate small objects or to avoid ordinary workplace hazards (e.g., open file cabinets, boxes on the floor).

Symptom-related limitations

If you suffer from dizziness or headaches or seizures, these conditions could limit your ability to do sedentary work, as could pain, if that is a symptom of your impairment. If you are sensitive to noise, dust or other respiratory irritants, this also may significantly limit your ability to do a full range of sedentary work.

Treatment-related limitations

You may be unable to perform a wide range of sedentary work because of the impact of your treatment schedule on your daily activities (e.g., the duration of your treatment; the number of treatments per week or month) or the side-effects of your medication (e.g., nausea or fatigue).

Certain mental impairments

If you are physically able to meet the requirements of sedentary work, but you have certain mental impairments, this may justify a finding of “disabled” by the Connecticut Social Security disability decision-maker. For example, your ability to perform a wide range of sedentary work may be significantly eroded if you find it difficult to:

  • Deal with changes in your work routine.
  • React appropriately to supervisors, co-workers and common work-related situations.
  • Make simple work-related judgments and decisions.
  • Understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions.

An experienced Hartford disability attorney will know how to tackle these challenging cases

Connecticut Social Security disability applicants under the age of 50 face challenges to winning an award of disability benefits that older applicants do not. Having an experienced Connecticut disability lawyer on your side will greatly increase your chances of success. If you would like us to review your case, please complete the Free Claim Evalutaion the form to the right, or call or email us at our Torrington, Connecticut disability law office.

Michael F. Magistrali
Greater Hartford disability lawyer
Serving Connecticut and western Massachusetts

Phone: (860)-626-0777
Toll Free: (800)-330-9921

Michael F. Magistrali & Assoc., LLC
400 Prospect Street
Torrington, CT 06790