The Social Security Administration looks at a book which is referred to as the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles”. This book is published by the Department of Labor and it lists virtually every type of job which exists in the national economy.
For each of these jobs, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles will have a listing of the physical exertion requirements, as well as the skill and educational requirements. The Administration will attempt to determine the level of physical exertion which you can perform. They define sedentary work as work involving lifting of no more than ten pounds at a time and occasionally carrying light objects.
There are also limited requirements for standing and walking. Light work is classified as being able to lift no more than twenty pounds at a time with frequent lifting of no more than ten pounds. It is also assumed that you can walk frequently and you are able to site for a significant time and you have control of your arms and legs.
Medium work is defined as lifting no more than fifty pounds and carrying or lifting objects frequently weighing no more than twenty-five pounds. Heavy work involves lifting no more than 100 pounds and frequently carrying fifty pounds. Finally, there is the classification of very heavy work which involves lifting objects weighing more than 100 pounds and frequently carrying objects that weigh more than fifty pounds.
The Social Security Administration will look at how your past work fits into these categories and will then try to determine whether you are able to perform any past relevant work. If your restrictions do not allow you to perform past relevant work, they will look at whether there was any transferability of skills from your past employment.
For example, if you have worked in the past as a roofer, then perhaps there would be transferability if there are job openings for someone who can prepare roofing bids. Sometimes a job that is heavy or very heavy in nature can have transferability where estimates can be performed or customer service can be provided by individuals because of their knowledge. The Social Security Administration notes that there are degrees of transferability ranging from jobs that involve close similarities to jobs that are isolated and unique. The Social Security Administration will limit their determination of transferability of skills for persons of advanced age.