The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

17. How does the "sedentary work" test apply to physical impairments (Step 2)?

ALERT:  Many of the rules in the TAFDC/EAEDC Advocacy Guide do NOT apply during the pandemic. Please go to the following COVID-19 & DTA benefits page: https://www.masslegalservices.org/DTA-COVID-19 until further notice for more information about changes.

The second step for DES is to determine if you are limited to a sitting (sedentary) job or if you can do more.

For persons with physical impairments, DES measures your ability to perform basic work activities against a "sedentary work" standard to decide if you are disabled. Sedentary work is a job that involves mostly sitting (up to 6 hours a day). It can also involve some standing or walking (not more than 2 hours a day) and lifting of small items (not more than 10 pounds) like files or small tools. 106 C.M. R. § 703.193(B).

There are three possible scenarios:

  • Less than sedentary work: If you cannot do the full range of sedentary work, DES should find you disabled, no matter your age, education or work history. 106 C.M.R. § 703.193(C)(1)(a).

Example: If you cannot sit for six hours because you have a bad back, you are disabled. Or if you can only lift less than 10 pounds because of a heart condition, back problem, or even a broken arm that will be immobilized for 60 days or more. If you cannot do the full range of sedentary work, DES should fine you disabled.

  • Full range of sedentary work but not more than that: If you have a physical impairment that limits your ability to do basic work, but you can still do the full range of sedentary work, DES uses the Grid. This is Step 3. See Question 18.

If you suffer from physical problems only, and do not have any mental health impairments, DES must accept the Grid's conclusion. If the Grid says you are disabled, you should be EAEDC eligible as disabled; if the Grid says you are not disabled, you will be denied EAEDC and no further evaluation is done. 106 C.M.R. § 703.193(C)(4).

Example: Suppose you have a heart condition that limits activities. DES may conclude that you can still do a sedentary job but not more than that. If so, DES will evaluate you against the Grid to determine  if you are disabled.

  • More than sedentary work: If you have a physical impairment that limits your ability to do basic work activities, and the Grid says you are disabled, but DES decides you can do more than sedentary work, DES is supposed to do an additional assessment to decide if there are full-time jobs that you could do. This is Step 4. See Question 19.

Example: Suppose you are a 60-year-old carpenter who suffers from a neck injury that makes it impossible for you to return to your carpentry work. DES concludes that you can still do other sitting jobs as well as other jobs that involve lifting and bending beyond sedentary work. Even though the Grid might find you disabled, DES will still do an additional assessment of vocational factors to determine whether work exists for you in the regional economy.

Advocacy Reminder:

ü  This evaluation applies only to persons with physical impairments. If you have a mental impairment, you get a separate determination. See Question 20.
 


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