From Social Security Disability Practice by Thomas E. Bush, copyright James Publishing


271.1 Chart: Physical Limitations and Their Effects on Ranges of Work












100 lbs. max.

50 lbs. freq.

50 lbs. max.

25 lbs. freq.

20 lbs. max.

10 lbs. freq.

10 lbs. max. An inability to lift or carry more than 1 or 2 lbs. would erode the sedentary occupational base significantly.

20 C.F.R. 404.1567, SSR 96-9p



6 hours/day

6 hours/day

6 hours/day

2 hours/day. A limitation to standing and walking for a total of only a few minutes during the workday would erode the sedentary occupational base significantly.

SSRs 83-10, 96-9p





Arm and/or leg controls

Inability to push/pull will generally have little effect.

SSR 96-9p

Sitting/ Need to alternate sitting and standing




6 hours/day. The need to alternately sit and stand erodes the sedentary occupational base but the extent of erosion will depend on the facts such as the frequency of the need to alternate sitting and standing and the length of time needed to stand.

SSRs 83-10, 83-12, 83-14, 96-9p



Ability to frequently stoop and crouch is required for most heavy and- medium work.

Crouching is not required for most sedentary and light jobs. Only occasional stooping is required for light and sedentary work.

A complete inability to stoop would significantly erode the unskilled sedentary occupational base and a finding that the individual is disabled would usually apply.

SSRs 83-10, 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A.9

Climbing Balancing Kneeling


Relatively few jobs require climbing ladders. Limitations of ability to balance on a slippery or moving surface, crawl, or kneel would be of little significance in the broad world of work.

Would not usually erode the occupational base for a full range of sedentary work because these activities are not usually required in sedentary work. However, if balancing is limited even when walking on level terrain, there may be significant erosion.

SSRs 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A1, POMS DI 25020.005A4

Fine manual dexterity

Significant loss of fine manual dexterity does not usually impact heavy and medium work except for certain skilled and semi-skilled jobs.

Loss of fine manual dexterity narrows light and sedentary work more than it does heavy and medium work. Loss of bimanual dexterity significantly compromises sedentary occupational base.

SSRs 83-10, 83-12, 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A8



Reaching and handling are activities required in almost all jobs. Significant limitations of reaching and handling may eliminate a large number of occupations.

SSRs 85-15, 96-9p


The ability to feel the size, shape, temperature or texture of an object by the fingertips is a function required in very few jobs.

SSRs 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A2b

Loss of use of arm

Greatly impinges on unskilled sedentary work and generally reduces occupational base similar to the number represented by a full range of sedentary work.

SSR 83-12

POMS DI 25020.005A5


Little impact if there is sufficient visual acuity to handle large objects and visual fields necessary to avoid hazards in the work place.

If a visual limitation prevents an individual from seeing the small objects involved in most sedentary work or if an individual is not able to avoid hazards in the workplace, there will be a significant erosion of the sedentary occupational base.

SSRs 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A10


Basic communication is all that is needed to do unskilled work. The ability to hear and understand simple oral instructions or to communicate simple information is sufficient. However, hearing impairments do not necessarily prevent communication and differences in types of work may be compatible with various degrees of hearing loss. Impact on occupational base may need to be individually assessed.

SSRs 85-15, 96-9p, POMS DI 25020.005A3


Where a person has a medical restriction to avoid excessive amounts of noise, dust, etc., the impact on the broad world of work would be minimal because most job environments do not involve great noise, amounts of dust, etc. Where an individual can tolerate very little noise, dust, etc., the impact on the ability to work would be considerable because very few job environments are entirely free of irritants, pollutants, and other potentially damaging conditions. Where the environmental restriction falls between very little and excessive, resolution of the issue will generally require consultation of occupational reference materials or the services of a vocational expert.

SSRs 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p

POMS DI 25020.015


Use of cane

Use of cane precludes the ability to perform most unskilled jobs above the sedentary level.

The sedentary occupational base for one who must use a cane for balance because of significant involvement of both lower extremities may be significantly eroded. One who needs to use a cane because of an impairment that affects only one leg may still have the ability to make an adjustment to sedentary work that exists in significant numbers.

20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a),

SSRs 83-10, 96-9p