Many of my Detroit disability clients mistakenly assume that their initial application for Social Security disability benefits was denied because they are not “totally and permanently” disabled. Social Security does not require total disability. In fact, most people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are capable of doing some type of work. The Social Security disability determination often turns on what type of work you are able to do, given your age, education and work experience, and whether there are a significant number of those types of jobs available. Your age will play a key role in this determination. In general, the younger you are, the more difficult it is to prove that you are not able to do any available job.
If you are 50 years old or younger, you will have to establish that you are unable to do a job that requires sitting for most of the workday or alternating periods of sitting and standing (“sedentary” work). Even though you might not be hired for a sedentary job, you still have to prove to the Social Security decision-maker that you cannot perform this easiest category of work.
If you are 50-54 years old, you will have to establish that you are unable to do “light” work. Light work requires you to be on your feet most of the day and to be able lift up to about 20 pounds. If you cannot perform light work, you may be found disabled even if you are able to work at a sedentary, sit-down job.
If you are 55 or older, the disability determination in your case will depend on your ability to do “medium” work. Medium work requires being on your feet for most of the workday, and the ability to lift 25 pounds frequently and up to 50 pounds occasionally. If you prove that you are not able to do medium work, then you may be found disabled even if you are capable of doing lighter work.