How limited must my ability to work be to qualify?
“Residual functional capacity” is what the Social Security Administration in Charlotte and elsewhere calls the work capability you have despite your physical or mental impairments. This capability for work is the single most important factor in determining whether you will be found disabled.
The Social Security Administration uses three levels of work when assessing residual functional capacity:
1. Medium work requires (a) frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds, but lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time, (b) standing or walking for roughly 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and (c) use of arms and hands to grasp, hold, and turn items. Frequent bending and stooping is usually required to accomplish the heavy lifting required for the full range of medium work, so flexibility of the knees and torso is important.
2. Light work means that you can (a) frequently lift or carry objects weighing up to 10 pounds, but lifing no more than 20 pounds at a time, (b) be on your feet up to two-thirds of the workday. If there is some pulling and pushing of hand or foot controls, a job will be considered light work even if you sit most of the day.
3. Sedentary work requires that you (a) occasionally lift or carry items like files or small tools, but nothing heavier than 10 pounds, (b) walk or stand less than one-third of the workday, and (c) have good use of your hands and fingers for repetitive tasks.