When Social Security examines your claim for disability, they will consider a large number of factors. Among these is your age, education, and work experience. One of the key factors Social Security is going to look at regarding your claim for a bad spine is what they call exertional limitations. Social Security examines what you can do across a range of activities. These are: lift and carry, sit, stand, and walk. Social Security will estimate how much of each of these things you can do. Based on the answers they come up with, Social Security will assign you a maximum work status. The most common of these categories are sedentary, light, medium. Note that if a person cannot do sedentary work, regardless of his or her age, Social Security will find him or her disabled. Note further that anyone capable of more than work is not likely to get approved.
The exertional limitations for the three categories are as follows:
Category Lift/Carry Sit Standing or Walking
Sedentary Up to 10 Pounds 6 Hours 2 Hours
Light 10/20 Pounds 2 6 Hours
Medium 25/50 Pounds N/A 8 hours
The times given in hours are the total in an eight-hour work day. The lifting/carrying numbers are what a person could do up to one-third of each day (the higher number) and up to two-thirds of the day (the lower number)
Keep in mind that the exertional limitations are only one thing Social Security considers. Social Security could find a person who can do everything required of medium work disabled due to other limitations, such as environmental or visual impairments. Your age will also matter when Social Security looks at your exertional limitations. At best, the above chart can give you some idea of what Social Security is looking at. If you have questions about what any of this means, please don't hesitate to call or email.