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If you need a cane or a walker, be sure to tell your Disability Insurance company.

Sitting work is called “Sedentary” by vocational rehabilitation experts and disability insurance companies. Many people think that sedentary work is not impacted when you need to use a cane, walker, or other device to help you get about.

In jobs that require more skills, like higher level desk jobs that rarely require carrying things, it may not be a factor at all. However, in most sedentary jobs, needing a cane or walker can completely stop a person from being able to do the job. The Social Security Administration has rules that explain why. Your Disability Insurance company does not need to follow Social Security rules, but you use them to help explain why your cane or walker impacts whether you can work. Social Security Ruling 96-9p talks about why an assistive device may prevent someone from working, by stating:

For example, if a medically required hand-held assistive device is needed only for prolonged ambulation, walking on uneven terrain, or ascending or descending slopes, the unskilled sedentary occupational base will not ordinarily be significantly eroded.

Since most unskilled sedentary work requires only occasional lifting and carrying of light objects such as ledgers and files and a maximum lifting capacity for only 10 pounds, an individual who uses a medically required hand-held assistive device in one hand may still have the ability to perform the minimal lifting and carrying requirements of many sedentary unskilled occupations with the other hand.[7] For example, an individual who must use a hand-held assistive device to aid in walking or standing because of an impairment that affects one lower extremity (e.g., an unstable knee), or to reduce pain when walking, who is limited to sedentary work because of the impairment affecting the lower extremity, and who has no other functional limitations or restrictions may still have the ability to make an adjustment to sedentary work that exists in significant numbers. On the other hand, the occupational base for an individual who must use such a device for balance because of significant involvement of both lower extremities (e.g., because of a neurological impairment) may be significantly eroded.

You should make sure all of your doctors know about your can or walker. You also want to get a prescription from the doctor that recommended using the cane or walker. That makes it medically necessary, and avoids the problem of an insurance adjuster saying you chose to get a cane or walker, but no doctor says you need it.

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