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What is “Sedentary” Work? …and Why Your Disability Insurance Company Cares

What is “Sedentary” Work? …and Why Your Disability Insurance Company Cares

Many Disability Insurance policies use what they call an “any occupation” (also called “any occ”) definition of disability. That means that they evaluate whether you can do any occupation to determine if you are disabled. Since the insurance company is looking at whether you can do ANY job, it is basically trying to decide if you can do the easiest work in the economy. Physically speaking, that is sedentary work.

The U.S. Department of Labor has classified all types of work in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. The Dept. of Labor defines sedentary as one that requires you to sit for 6 hours out of an 8 hour day and the ability to lift no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally to lift or carry articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools.

Some walking or standing is often needed to do job duties for sedentary work too. Jobs are still considered “sedentary” if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met. “Occasionally” means occurring from zero to one-third (1/3) of the day (so, usually no more than 2 hours of an 8-hour work day). Again, that means a person would be sitting for about 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. Sedentary work also involves other activities, classified as “nonexertional,” such as capacities for seeing, manipulation, and understanding, remembering, and, in the easiest jobs, carrying out simple instructions.

If you have an “Any Occ” definition of disability in your Disability Insurance policy or ERISA Disability plan, the insurer may be looking at very simple sitting jobs. Some examples include: toll booth operator, surveillance system monitor, order clerk, etc. Unless the terms of your policy or plan say it matters, the disability insurer usually does not pay attention to how much less these types of jobs pay than the one you were doing before you became disabled.

In the end, if your doctor gives you restrictions that allow you to do Sedentary work, you will NOT be found disabled. There are many sedentary jobs in the economy. Often, the key to a disability claim is proving the reasons why you cannot do sedentary work.

If your insurance company has denied your claim saying you can do sedentary work, call Disability Attorney John Tucker today for a free consultation at (866) 282-5260.



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    My long term disability just stopped paying me because they contacted my former employer and they stated that my job was a sedentary job and that I would be sitting at a desk order parts. Not so at all. I have the job description! I should mention this is in Logistics. My Dr has even sent them paperwork stating I can not do computer work and it is a permanent situation. Also he has stated I can not lift over 20 lbs, lift over my head or any movements towards the back. I’m at a loss on how my long term disability can just push aside the Dr notes and the job description they have that at along with many other things the Dr said I can not do are on there one specific one states lifiting from 20 to 45 lbs 10 – 30 times a day!
    Any help u could give me would be much appreciated

    Sherry: We might be able to help you. Please call Nadia in our office at (727) 572-5000 or toll-free at (866) 282-5260, and we can talk more about it. John Tucker


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