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Can you do other work? The Medical Vocational Guidelines and non-exertional limitations

  • Published: April 2, 2012

To qualify for Florida Social Security disability benefits, you will probably need to prove to the Social Security Administration that you cannot do “past relevant work” (i.e., the easiest job you had in the past 15 years), and cannot adapt to other jobs in light of your age, education, and experience.

The first step in determining whether you are capable of adapting to other jobs is to determine your residual functional capacity or RFC.  Your RFC is the most exertion you are capable of despite your impairment.  As we explained in an earlier post, your RFC is expressed in terms of whether you are limited to medium work, light work, or sedentary work.

Medical Vocational Guidelines

After the Social Security Administration determines your RFC, it turns to the Medical Vocational Guidelines, also known as “the grids.” Under the grids, the older you are, and the less education and job skills you have, the easier it is to be found disabled.  The grids are set up as three charts: one for claimants with an RFC for medium work; one for claimants with an RFC for light work; and one for claimants with an RFC for sedentary work.

Each chart has four columns: one for age range; one for educational level; one for the level of skill required by the claimant’s prior work; and a final column for the decision “disabled” or “not disabled.”

The Social Security Administration will look at the chart that applies to your RFC, and find the row that matches your age range, educational level, and skill level.  If the decision for that row is “disabled,” you will be entitled to benefits.

If the decision for that row is “not disabled,” your case is not over yet.  Social Security will then determine whether you have any additional non-exertional limitations that limit the jobs that you can do.

Non-exertional Limitations

Non-exertional limitations include restrictions on your ability to:

  • Bend, stoop, climb, balance, kneel, crouch, and crawl;
  • Use your hands to reach, handle, finger, and feel;
  • See objects up close, at a distance, perceive depth, color, and peripheral objects;
  • Hear and speak; and
  • Tolerate exposure to heat, cold, humidity, noise, vibrations, and odors.

These non-exertional limitations may restrict the number of jobs you are able to do so significantly that you will be found disabled.  In addition to non-exertional limitations, the Social Security Administration will also consider the impact of your symptoms, such as pain, numbness, nausea, and dizziness, on your ability to work.

If you are unable to work because of a health problem and would like help obtaining Social Security disability benefits, dedicated Ocala Social Security disability attorney Claudeth Henry may be able to help you with your claim. Simply fill out the form on this page to schedule a free initial evaluation of your claim.

Claudeth Henry

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