Postural limitations: Postural limitations or restrictions related to such activities as climbing ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds, balancing, kneeling, crouching, or crawling would not usually
erode the occupational base for a full range of unskilled sedentary work significantly
because those activities are not usually required in sedentary work. In the SCO, “balancing” means maintaining body equilibrium to prevent falling when walking, standing, crouching,
or running on narrow, slippery, or erratically moving surfaces. If an individual is
limited in balancing only on narrow, slippery, or erratically moving surfaces, this
would not, by itself, result in a significant erosion of the unskilled sedentary occupational
base. However, if an individual is limited in balancing even when standing or walking
on level terrain, there may be a significant erosion of the unskilled sedentary occupational
base. It is important to state in the RFC assessment what is meant by limited balancing
in order to determine the remaining occupational base. Consultation with a vocational
resource may be appropriate in some cases.
An ability to stoop occasionally, i.e., from very little up to one-third of the time,
is required in most unskilled sedentary occupations. A complete
inability to stoop would significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational
base and a finding that the individual is disabled would usually apply, but restriction
to occasional stooping should, by itself, only minimally erode the unskilled occupational
base of sedentary work. Consultation with a vocational resource may be particularly
useful for cases where the individual is limited to less than occasional stooping.
Manipulative limitations: Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of both hands and the fingers; i.e.,
bilateral manual dexterity. Fine movements of small objects require use of the fingers;
e.g., to pick or pinch. Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of the hands
and fingers for repetitive hand-finger actions.
Any significant manipulative limitation of an individual's ability to handle and work with small objects
with both hands will result in a significant erosion of the unskilled sedentary occupational
base. For example, example 1 in section 201.00(h) of appendix 2, describes an individual
who has an impairment that prevents the performance of any sedentary occupations that require bilateral manual dexterity (i.e., “limits the individual to sedentary jobs
which do not require bilateral manual dexterity” ). When the limitation is less significant, especially if the limitation is in the
non-dominant hand, it may be useful to consult a vocational resource.
The ability to feel the size, shape, temperature, or texture of an object by the fingertips
is a function required in very few jobs and impairment of this ability would not,
by itself, significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base.
Visual limitations or restrictions: Most sedentary unskilled occupations require working with small objects. If a visual
limitation prevents an individual from seeing the small objects involved in most sedentary
unskilled work, or if an individual is not able to avoid ordinary hazards in the workplace,
such as boxes on the floor, doors ajar, or approaching people or vehicles, there will
be a significant erosion of the sedentary occupational base. These cases may require
the use of vocational resources.
Communicative limitations: Basic communication is all that is needed to do unskilled work. The ability to hear
and understand simple oral instructions or to communicate simple information is sufficient.
If the individual retains these basic communication abilities, the unskilled sedentary
occupational base would not be significantly eroded in these areas.
Environmental restrictions: An “environmental
restriction” is an impairment-caused need to avoid an environmental condition in a workplace.
Definitions for various workplace environmental conditions are found in the SCO; e.g.,
“extreme cold” is exposure to nonweather-related cold temperatures.
In general, few occupations in the unskilled sedentary occupational base require work
in environments with extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, humidity, vibration, or
unusual hazards. The “hazards” defined in the SCO are considered unusual in unskilled sedentary work. They include:
moving mechanical parts of equipment, tools, or machinery; electrical shock; working
in high, exposed places; exposure to radiation; working with explosives; and exposure
to toxic, caustic chemicals. Even a need to avoid all exposure to these conditions
would not, by itself, result in a significant erosion of the occupational base.
Since all work environments entail some level of noise, restrictions on the ability
to work in a noisy workplace must be evaluated on an individual basis. The unskilled
sedentary occupational base may or may not be significantly eroded depending on the
facts in the case record. In such cases, it may be especially useful to consult a
Restrictions to avoid exposure to odors or dust must also be evaluated on an individual
basis. The RFC assessment must specify which environments are restricted and state
the extent of the restriction; e.g., whether only excessive or even small amounts
of dust must be avoided.
Mental limitations or restrictions: A substantial loss of ability to meet any one of several basic work-related activities
on a sustained basis (i.e., 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule),
will substantially erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base and would justify
a finding of disability. These mental activities are generally required by competitive,
remunerative, unskilled work:
Understanding, remembering, and carrying out simple instructions.
Making judgments that are commensurate with the functions of unskilled work — i.e.,
simple work-related decisions.
Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations.
Dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
A less than substantial loss of ability to perform any of the above basic work activities
may or may not significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base. The
individual's remaining capacities must be assessed and a judgment made as to their
effects on the unskilled occupational base considering the other vocational factors
of age, education, and work experience. When an individual has been found to have
a limited ability in one or more of these basic work activities, it may be useful
to consult a vocational resource.