As a part of your disability application, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers your ability to perform work, including the highest level of sustained work you can maintain. The SSA determines your maximum sustained work capability through multiple channels, including reviewing medical records and questionnaires completed during the claims process.
The SSA divides occupations into five categories based on the amount of physical exertion to determine your maximum sustained work capability. The five work categories are sedentary work, light work, medium work, heavy work, and very heavy work.
Sedentary work pertains to work that is generally performed while sitting, with no more than 2 hours of walking or standing during an 8-hour shift. In order to perform sedentary work, you must be able to lift 10 pounds at a time.
For light work, you must have the ability to lift 20 pounds at a time and frequently lift and carry up to 10 pounds during an 8-hour shift. To be able to perform light work you must be able to stand for up to 6 hours per shift.
In order to perform medium work, you must be able to lift 50 pounds at a time and lift and carry 25 pounds on a consistent basis. You must also be able to stand for 6 hours per 8-hour shift.
For heavy work, you must be able to lift up to 100 pounds and frequently be able to lift and carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds.
In order to be able to perform very heavy work, you need to be able to lift up to 100 pounds with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing 50 pounds or more.