Social Security Disability Lawyers use complicated terminology that very often confuses their clients and other lawyers who do not practice in the area of disability law. Two of the disability law terms that most people find confusing are: "exertional" and "non-exertional" limitations.
In analyzing a disability claim, all judges must make a determination regarding what the claimant can or cannot do. In other words, the judge must determine what are the claimant's limitations. To reach a proper decision, the judge must separate a claimant's limitations into two different areas: those that are exertional and those that are not. I will explain these two terms below:
Exertional Limitations: These limitations deal mostly with the strength demands required for a job. The Social Security Administration considers exertional demands to be: sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling. These limitations are used to determine whether a claimant's ability to do work is considered to be at the sedentary, light, medium, heavy or very heavy level. These classifications are fairly straight forward and can assist the judge in making a decision on your case without having to go into other non-exertional limitation, which as you will see, can be more complicated and subjective.
Non-exertional Limitations: These limitations include areas dealing with much more etherial or subjective matters such as: mental restrictions. environmental restrictions or requirements for changes in posture. Symptoms related to a medical condition such as pain or fatigue are very common examples of non-exertional limitations.Here are several other examples of non-exertional limitations:
- Difficulty functioning because of depression or anxiety.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Memory problems.
- Hearing or vision problems.
- Difficulty tolerating some physical feature(s) of certain work settings, e.g., you cannot tolerate dust or fumes.
- Requiring to change positions from sitting and standing.