When determining eligibility for Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration takes into account both exertional and nonexertional limitations. Such limitations must be established and deemed significant enough to hinder you from performing any meaningful or gainful work before you are considered qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
A non-exertional limitation, for Social Security Disability purposes, is any limitation which is not considered exertional. Exertional limitations include symptoms and conditions which hinder your ability to sit, stand, walk, pull, push, carry, or lift. Any limitation which does not directly hinder one of these activities is considered a nonexertional limitation.
Many nonexertional limitations are related to mental health. While such limitations do not pose a hindrance to performing the actual physical labor involved in most employment situations, they can create a great deal of difficulty in dealing with many of the non-physical stresses of the job.
Additionally, there are a number of physical conditions which don’t directly affect your strength related abilities, but which may hinder you from other types of physical work. These non-exertional limitations tend to be symptoms which cause difficulty with manual dexterity or other fine motor skills. Handicaps such as blindness or deafness also present a nonexertional limitation.
It’s important to determine whether each of your symptoms or conditions causes an exertional limitation, a nonexertional limitation, or both for Social Security Disability purposes. The Social Security Disability standards used for exertional limitations differ from those used for a non-exertional limitation.
In many cases, physical disabilities will cause both exertional and nonexertional limitation. An example of this is an arthritic condition which could both make it difficult to lift or carry heavy objects or to do fine detail work with your hands. In order for most people to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, they must have both exertional and nonexertional limitations. This is because Social Security Disability qualifications require that you be unable to perform any kind of meaningful work, including sedentary work.