Social Security makes use of exertional levels when defining a Claimant’s Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) for work. Exertional levels are assigned to every job code in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), and they describe the physical acumen needed to perform jobs.
Exertional levels that are used to describe a Claimant’s RFC are:
These exertional levels are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at §404.1567 and §416.967. Additionally, they are more fully described in Social Security Ruling (SSR) 83-10. In disability evaluations, they are used most commonly in Step 5 of Social Security’s five-step process of evaluating disability claims. At Step 5, a Claimant’s age, education, work experience, and RFC (the maximum exertional level of work that can be performed) are used to make determinations about a Claimant’s disability status.
• lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time
• occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools
• walking and standing are required occasionally
• lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time
• frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds
• requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls
• If a Claimant can do light work, the Claimant can also do sedentary work unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time.
• lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time
• frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds
• If a Claimant can do medium work, Claimant can also do sedentary and light work.
• lifting no more than 100 pounds at a time
• frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 50 pounds
• If a Claimant can do heavy work, they can also do medium, light, and sedentary work.
Very Heavy Work
• lifting objects weighing more than 100 pounds at a time
• frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing 50 pounds or more
• If a Claimant can do very heavy work, they can also do heavy, medium, light and sedentary work.