In Pursuit Of Social Security Benefits: What Does The SSA Consider ‘Basic Work-Related Activities’?


If you have suffered a workplace injury that resulted in impairment or disability, you are most likely pursuing social security benefits (if you aren’t, then you definitely should).

But as you have begun filling out all the information necessary to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) about your impairment or disability and determine if you qualify for social security benefits, you have most likely stumbled upon the term “basic work-related activities.”

What do ‘basic work-related activities’ mean?

Our Los Angeles on-the-job injury attorney at the Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach explains that the SSA uses the term “basic work-related activities” to determine the severity of a workers impairment or disability. In order to qualify for social security benefits, your physical or mental injury suffered as a result of a workplace accident must not only meet the duration requirement but must also be severe enough to interfere with basic work-related activities.

If both criteria are met, you are entitled to social security benefits in addition to your workers compensation benefits from your employer. So the question is, “What activities does the Social Security Administration consider “basic work-related activities” when determining whether you qualify for social security benefits or not?”

What does the SSA consider ‘basic work-related activities’?

When people hear the term “basic work-related activities,” they automatically think about such physically demanding activities as lifting and carrying objects. But in reality, this term covers a much wider range of activities, including standing and sitting.

Under the Social Security Act, basic work-related activities include but are not limited to such activities as:

  1. Lifting and carrying objects;
  2. Standing and sitting (esp. for a prolonged period of time);
  3. Walking;
  4. Pushing and pulling;
  5. Non-exertional activities (non-strength work-related activities).

What are non-exertional activities?

As you can see, it gets more and more confusing every minute. We invited our experienced on-the-job injury lawyer in Los Angeles to define the term “non-exertional activities.”

Under the Selected Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Revised Dictionary of Occupational Titles (SCO), non-exertional activities include but are not limited to:

  • Using fingers and hands (to reach or handle objects) – the so-called manipulative restrictions;
  • Climbing, crawling, crouching, and stooping – the so-called postural restrictions;
  • Seeing, speaking, and hearing – the so-called visual and communication restrictions;
  • Any limitations or decrease in productivity because of mental, emotional or psychological impairments (anxiety, depression, etc.);
  • Ability to focus, pay attention, or concentrate;
  • Ability to make work-related decisions and judgments;
  • Ability to respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers, and various work-related situations;
  • Ability to adjust to changes in work-related routine or environment;
  • Ability to comprehend or remember things, including detailed instructions; and
  • Capability to work in a noisy or dusty workplace and/or in hot or cold temperatures.

What does the SSA consider a ‘severe’ impairment?

According to the SSA, a workers impairment or disability is considered “severe,” and he/she is therefore entitled to social security benefits if the workplace injury limits his/her ability to perform at least one work-related activity such as:

  • Sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling;
  • Speaking, seeing, or hearing;
  • Comprehending or remembering things;
  • Following simple instructions and directions;
  • Interacting or commutating with co-workers, supervisors, and employer;
  • Adjusting to changes in work-related routine and environment.

Speak to our workers comp attorneys in Los Angeles at the Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach to determine whether or not you qualify for social security benefits. Get a free case evaluation by calling our offices at 818-609-7005 or complete this contact form.

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