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Home » Glossary » Heavy Work

Definition of Heavy Work

The Social Security Administration (SSA) classifies work exertion levels. For instance, according to the SSA, work can be categorized as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy. Heavy work is defined by the Social Security Administration as "lifting no more than 100 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 50 pounds."

When the SSA is deciding whether a claimant has the functional ability to complete work they will review the level of work a claimant has performed in their current and past work. For instance, assuming the claimant's condition does not meet or exceed a listing in the SSA Listing of Impairments the SSA will decide if the claimant qualifies for benefits through a medical vocational allowance. The medical vocational allowance process allows them to consider a variety of factors such as their age, their educational level, their work skills and their residual functional capacity to work to determine if the claimant can train for new work.

To make a disability determination the SSA will decide if the claimant can work heavy, medium, light or sedentary work. If the claimant has worked a heavy job in the past and the SSA believes they can still do heavy work, they will be denied SSDI benefits. Additionally, if the SSA evaluates the claimant's medical evidence and determines they can work other less physical work then they have in the past (i.e. medium, light or sedentary work) they can still be denied SSDI benefits.

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