When reviewing an application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) closely examines the physical or mental limitations a medical condition places on the applicant and his or her ability to perform essential job duties. They also review your work history, experience, education and other qualifications in order to determine the nature of the work you have traditionally done and the type of work you could potentially do.
In both instances, the SSA categorizes work into basic groups. The work you are able to perform, even with your physical or mental limitations is classified, as is the type of work you have traditionally completed.
Light work is among the basic classifications of job duties used by the SSA and is defined as a position in which the worker is not required to lift any more than 20 pounds at one time, though they may be required to frequently lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds. Additionally, light work may require frequent standing, walking, and/or pushing and pulling while seated, including positions that require the use of legs, arms, or both to push or pull leavers or other mechanical devises.
If the SSA finds you’re able to perform light work and your work history and experience also fall into this same category, then you will be found ineligible for disability benefits. This is because the SSA will view your medical condition as not sufficiently limiting your ability to perform essential job duties.
However, if you are found unable to perform light work and your experience has thus far been in a light work categorized job field, then the SSA may find you eligible for SSD benefits. This is because your condition limits your ability to do the type of work for which you’re best qualified.
If an applicant can perform light work, the SSA will also find him or her capable of performing sedentary work. They may require the individual to attempt to gain employment in a position classified as sedentary work, if their skills, training and education make them otherwise qualified for such a position.
Even if you’re not currently qualified for a sedentary job, the SSA may find you eligible for SSD benefits, but may require you to complete a vocational rehabilitation program. The goal of a vocational rehabilitation program is for you to learn new skills in order to get a sedentary job in which your physical limitations will not prevent you from maintaining gainful employment.