Heavy Work

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses five classifications to define the full range of job tasks and functions necessary in specific places of employment.

Jobs are grouped into the following categories:

  • Sedentary
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Heavy
  • Extremely Heavy

Heavy Work is defined in this system as any task that commonly needs lifting and carrying up to 50 pounds of weight but never more than 100 pounds at a time.

When a disability applicant does not meet or closely matches a Blue Book listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must conduct a “residual functional capacity” or “RFC” study. The SSA conducts this study to determine an applicant’s capacity to execute particular mental and/or physical tasks. The RFC provides the SSA with the information essential to make a determination about the types of occupations an applicant can undertake given the limitations imposed by their medical condition.

An RFC is used to assess whether a disability applicant qualifies for benefits under a “medical vocational allowance,” which indicates they are disabled despite not meeting or matching a Blue Book designation.

A medical vocational allowance is only awarded if the applicant’s job skills, age, level of education, training, and medical condition all suggest that they are unable to work in any position for which they are qualified.

If the SSA determines that an applicant is capable of performing Heavy Work, the applicant is also considered capable of performing Medium, Light, and Sedentary Work. To qualify for a medical vocational allowance, an applicant must be unable to work in any employment that requires the applicant’s skills and competencies. This often indicates that the applicant must be physically and mentally incapable of performing even Sedentary Work.