Jobs classified in terms of sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy exertion as both the regulations and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) define those terms:
1. Sedentary Work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although sedentary jobs involve sitting, they also require a certain amount of walking and standing to carry out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if they require occasional walking and standing, provided other sedentary criteria are met. Because sedentary occupations may require occasional standing and walking, the actual periods of standing or walking should generally total no more than about 2 hours of an 8-hour workday. Work processes in specific occupations will dictate how often and how long a claimant needs to be on his or her feet to obtain or return small articles. By its very nature, work performed primarily in a seated position entails no significant stooping. Most unskilled sedentary jobs require good use of the hands and fingers for repetitive hand-finger actions.
2. Light Work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Since frequent lifting or carrying requires a claimant to be on his or her feet up to two-thirds of a workday, the full range of light work requires standing or walking for a total of approximately 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. Even though the weight a claimant lifts in a particular light job may be minimal, the regulations classify a job as light work when it requires a significant amount of walking or standing—the primary difference between sedentary and most light jobs.
A job is also in this category when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm-hand or leg-foot controls requiring greater exertion than in sedentary work; e.g., mattress sewing machine operator, motor-grader operator, and road-roller operator (skilled and semi-skilled jobs in these particular instances). Relatively few unskilled light jobs are performed in a seated position. The lifting requirements for the majority of light jobs can be accomplished with occasional, rather than frequent, stooping. Many unskilled light jobs are performed in one location—in which case the ability to stand is more critical than the ability to walk. Light jobs require the use of arms and hands to grasp, hold, and turn objects. They generally do not involve the use of the fingers for fine activities to the extent required in most sedentary jobs.
3. Medium Work involves lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time with frequent lifting of objects weighing up to 25 pounds. A full range of medium work requires standing or walking for a total of approximately 6 hours in an 8-hour workday in order to meet the requirements of frequent lifting or carrying of objects up to 25 pounds. As with the requirements of light work, sitting may occur intermittently during the remaining time. In contrast to the fine precision activities of the fingers and hands required by sedentary work, medium work generally requires only use of the arms and hands to grasp, hold, or turn objects.
The full range of medium work requires both considerable lifting and frequent bending-stooping (“stooping” is a type of bending in which a person bends his or her body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist; “crouching” is bending both the legs and spine in order to bend the body downward and forward). This activity requires flexibility of the knees as well as of the torso. However, relatively few occupations in the national economy require lifting, pushing or pulling activities from primarily a sitting position; e.g., taxi driver, bus driver, a tank-truck driver (semi-skilled jobs). In most medium jobs, the critical requirement is being on one’s feet for most of the workday. An individual’s ability to perform frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds is often more critical than being able to lift up to 50 pounds at a time.
4. Heavy Work involves lifting objects weighing more than 100 pounds. If a claimant can do very heavy work, he or she can also engage in heavy, medium, light, and sedentary work.
Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS). An SSI work incentive program that, if approved by SSA, allows an SSI eligible individual to set aside money and/or things he or she owns to pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific work goal without violating the SSI income or asset limitations.