What Are the Medical-Vocational Guidelines?

The process of determining whether a person is truly disabled or not can potentially rely on a lot of subjective judgments. To try to make the process more streamlined and fair, the Social Security Administration has developed the Medical-Vocational Guidelines for administrators to follow.

These guidelines, also known as grids, spell out certain factors that help determine whether a person is eligible for disability benefits. The factors are further divided into different levels.

Factors and Their Levels

Maximum physical residual functional capacity (the physical activities you can do)

  • Limited to sedentary work (sit-down jobs)
  • Limited to light work
  • Limited to medium work
  • Limited to heavy or very heavy work


  • Advanced age (55 years or older)
  • Approaching advanced age (50-55 years)
  • Younger individual (45-49 years)
  • Younger individual (18-44 years)

Education level

  • High school graduate or more, capable of skilled work
  • High school graduate or more, not prepared for skilled work
  • Limited or less
  • Illiterate or unable to communicate in English

Previous work experience

  • Skilled or semi-skilled
  • Unskilled

How Do the Guidelines Work?

These factors and their levels make up a complex chart which is used to determine whether a person is eligible for disability benefits. These factors are weighed against each other along with external factors such as the kinds of jobs available in the current economy. For example, if a person is over 50 years of age, has limited education, and has no history of a “sit-down” job, he or she would likely be considered disabled from all work.

It is important to note that age may be the most important factor. A person who is fifty years old or older has a much lower burden of proof in order to qualify for disability.

How an Indianapolis Social Security Lawyer Can Help

The laws surrounding disability benefits are extremely complex and can be quite difficult to understand. An Indianapolis disability lawyer will review your case, determine the best plan of action for you, and fight for your rights in court.

Unfortunately, many Social Security judges fail to apply the Medical-Vocational Guidelines correctly. Do not let your case be unfairly dismissed. Contact an experienced Indianapolis disability lawyer through the Hankey Law Office by calling (317) 634-8565 today.