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Home » Glossary » Light Work

Definition of Light Work

The Social Security Administration (SSA) categorizes work exertion levels for jobs. Work, according to the SSA, can be very heavy, heavy, medium, light or sedentary. Light work is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as work which requires "sitting up to 2 hours in an 8 hour day, standing 6 hours in an 8 hour day and lifting 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently."

To determine if a claimant is disabled the SSA will decide if the claimant's condition meets or exceeds a listing on their SSA Listing of Impairments. If it does not, the SSA will use a process called the medical vocational process to determine the claimant's work exertion level for past and present jobs. If the SSA determines the claimant does not have the residual functional capacity to perform their past job, then they will determine if they could retrain for new work which is physically less demanding. For example, if a claimant used to perform heavy work but they can no longer do their job, the SSA would determine if they could retrain for light work.

If the SSA determines they cannot perform light or sedentary work, then the SSA would find them disabled. Consider, however, just because you cannot do your past job does not mean the SSA will decide you are disabled. In fact, most young applicants will find it difficult to prove they cannot do some type of sedentary work.

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