Work Classification for Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Work RequirementsThe Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to classify different jobs in terms of sedentary, light, medium, heavy and very heavy exertion. A person’s disability and the physical demands of their recent and past work are taken into consideration along with age, education and skill level when deciding if a person is disabled according to the SSA.

The classifications are as follows:

* Sedentary Work:

This type of work involves occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools that are no more than 10 pounds. Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of the hands and fingers for repetitive hand-finger actions.  These jobs require a certain amount of walking and standing to carry out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if they require occasional walking and standing generally totaling no more than about 2 hours of an 8 hour workday, provided other sedentary criteria are met. Work procedures in specific occupations will dictate how often and how long a claimant needs to be on his or her feet to obtain or return small articles. Work performed primarily in a seated position entails no significant stooping.

* Light Work:

This type of work involves frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds  with lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time. The full range of light work requires standing or walking for a total of approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. The regulations classify a job as light work when it requires a significant amount of walking or standing—the primary difference between sedentary and most light jobs.

Many unskilled light jobs are performed in one location—in which case the ability to stand is more critical than the ability to walk. Light jobs require the use of arms and hands to turn,grasp, and hold objects. They generally do not involve the use of the fingers for fine activities to the extent required in most sedentary jobs. A job is also in this category when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm-hand or leg-foot controls requiring greater exertion than in sedentary work. Relatively few unskilled light jobs are performed in a seated position. The lifting requirements for the majority of light jobs can be accomplished with occasional, rather than frequent, stooping.

*Medium Work:

This work involves frequent lifting of objects weighing up to 25 pounds with occasional lifting of no more than 50 pounds at a time. A full range of medium work requires standing or walking for a total of approximately 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. As with the requirements of light work, sitting may occur occasionally during the remaining time. Medium work generally requires only use of the arms and hands to turn, grasp, or hold objects.

In most medium jobs, the crucial requirement is being on one’s feet for the majority of the workday. An individual’s ability to perform frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds is often more critical than being able to lift up to 50 pounds at a time. The full range of medium work requires both considerable lifting and frequent bending-stooping (“stooping” is a type of bending in which a person bends his or her body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist).

*Heavy Work:

This work involves lifting objects weighing more than 100 pounds. If a claimant can do very heavy work, they can also engage in heavy, medium, light, and sedentary work.


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