Social Security classifies the physical exertion requirements of work into five categories: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567. However, most disability denials will be based on either sedentary or light exertional work.
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. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a). Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. (Id.) Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met. (Id.)
Light work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b). Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b). To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, you must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b). If someone can do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b).
In Huber v. Berryhill, 2018 WL 2084793, at *3, the Seventh Circuit found that before the ALJ could find the plaintiff capable of light work, the ALJ was required to consider the consultative examiner’s opinion that the claimant had trouble standing and walking. See Roddy v. Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636, 639 (7th Cir. 2013) (remanding because ALJ did not address doctor’s opinion that claimant couldn’t work beyond six hours per day).
The Seventh Circuit found that “[g]iven that the ALJ concluded that Huber could do a good deal of walking or standing (‘light work’), the ALJ needed to confront the contrary opinion of the agency’s own examining physician before reaching this conclusion.” Id.
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