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Light Work proving I cannot do it

Recently on our disability forum a disability applicant asked the following question, “I received notice from the SSA that my disability application had been denied. They mentioned that I could do other work, specifically light work. I am not sure what this means or how to challenge the denial. Can you help?”


It’s not unusual for Social Security Disability applicants to be denied benefits because the SSA claims they can retrain for new work. In fact, winning disability benefits is all about proving that you do not have the residual functional capacity to perform any type of work, including sedentary, light, medium, or heavy. So what do you do when the SSDI has denied your claim?

The first step is to prove that you cannot retrain for new work. Unfortunately, this can only be done by having sufficient medical evidence that you do not have the remaining physical or mental functional capacity to work.

Can I do Light work?

To prove you cannot do light work you first need to understand what it is and what limitations you might have to performing it. Specifically, the SSA claims the following requirements are needed to perform light work:

Common jobs defined as “light work” include mattress sewing machine operator, motor-grader operator, and road-roller operator (skilled and semiskilled jobs in these particular instances).

Proving you cannot perform light work

Proving you cannot perform light work can be as simple as gathering medical evidence from your doctor that you do not have the capability to perform the requirements outlined above. For example, if your doctor limits your ability to lift weight to 10 pounds and states that you have to sit at least 6 hours per day, you would not qualify for light work.

Will proving I cannot perform light work guarantee I will win SSDI?

Unfortunately, if you have been denied benefits for other work and the SSA believes you can do light work, this means they also believe you can do sedentary work. So even if you prove you cannot perform light work they may still argue you are not disabled because you can still perform sedentary work.

In this case, you will have to provide additional medical evidence that states that you cannot perform sedentary work, which is even more restrictive than light work. For instance, you would also have to prove you cannot lift or carry more than 10 pounds, stand or walk for more than 2 hours per day, or use your fingers to perform repetitive hand-finger actions.

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