Manipulative Limitations In Social Security Disability

Manipulative limitations, like other non-exertional limitations, can impact an individual’s ability to work.  Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of both hands and the fingers; i.e., bilateral manual dexterity.  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.

Social Security Ruling 85-15 provides that reaching, handling, fingering, and feeling require progressively finer usage of the upper extremities to perform work-related activities.  Reaching (extending the hands and arms in any direction) and handling (seizing, holding, grasping, turning or otherwise working primarily with the whole hand or hands) are activities required in almost all jobs.  Fingering involves picking, pinching, or otherwise working primarily with the fingers.  It is needed to perform most unskilled sedentary jobs and to perform certain skilled and semiskilled jobs at all levels of exertion.  Significant limitations of reaching or handling may eliminate a large number of occupations a person could otherwise do.