When determining an applicant’s eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews the work history and experience of the applicant. They look at the level of impairment or disability the individual suffers in order to determine if it places severe enough limitations on the applicant to prevent them from working in particular types of jobs – specifically, those in which they have previously worked and gained the majority of their job skills and experience.
In evaluating the work done by the applicant, the SSA defines the kind of work duties performed. Heavy work is among the basic classifications of job duties and defines positions in which the worker is required to frequently lift up to 50 pounds at a time and/or carry objects that weigh up to 50 pounds. In heavy work, individuals are not expected to lift more than 100 pounds at a time, though they may occasionally be required to lift or carry more than 50.
If the SSA reviews your medical documentation and finds you’re capable of performing heavy work, you will also be found capable of performing medium, light and sedentary work. Essentially this means that the SSA may find you ineligible for SSD benefits based on the idea that you may be able to maintain gainful employment in another type of job – one in which you’re qualified and able to perform essential job functions.
If however it’s determined that your disability prevents you from performing heavy work, the SSA will seek to establish the level of work that you are capable of performing. For instance, you may be able to do medium or light work, given the limitations of your medical condition.
In such a case, the SSA may require you to seek employment through a vocational rehabilitation program as a condition of receiving disability benefits. A vocational rehabilitation program allows you to learn new, essential skills in order to find work in a new field in which your physical limitations will not prevent you from maintaining gainful employment.