How Social Security Determines Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

If you have been physical or mentally disabled, you will receive social security benefits. But before the agency decides whether an individual is eligible for benefits, they have to check whether your disability prevents you from performing certain works. The Social Security will conduct a residual functional capacity assessment.

 What Is Residual Functional Capacity?

 A residual functional capacity is given to a disability applicant whose physical or mental impairment restricts them to perform work. Your medical records, including all your clinical records, will be used to determine what types of activities you can perform. Besides, they also assess your symptoms, how you have responded to treatment and any opinion from your doctor on what you can do despite your disability. Family and friends testimony may also be used to form the basis of your RFC. Social Security prepares a residual functional capacity. This can be done to:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Mental disabilities

If Social Security believes in physical or mental impairment, they have to develop an RFC for you. Such will show what you can do despite your disability. If your condition is not severe, it will deny your claim.

Determining Your Physical Impairment

Social Security will determine the level of work you can perform. Typically, it will assess your ability to work based on three classifications: light, medium, and heavy. This is referred to as exceptional capacity. This is what is used to streamline the basis of the disability process. Such capacity will determine what will be considered a disability. The level obtained will be compared with the level of your past job. If such levels are deemed to be equal, you will not be granted disability benefits. However, in some situations, the RFC may contain non-exertional limitations that may prevent you from doing certain jobs.  If your RFC shows that you can perform lighter work than you previously did, then they may look for similar works according to RFC level. The RFC will assess your ability to do those activities that don’t need strength to determine whether they would interfere with your ability to do your previous job. They may assess:

  • Your ability to see, talk or hear
  • Whether you can write or hold objects
  • Your ability to climb, stoop

Determination Of Mental Impairment

 Social Security has to determine that you cannot perform any substantial gainful activity due to your mental impairment. The RFC will evaluate your ability to:

  • Make simple judgment or decisions.
  • Concentrate or work for an extended period of time
  • Follow instructions
  • Interact with others at home or workplace
  • Respond and manage stress

  It’s worth noting that it will not matter whether there is a job available in your region or not and whether or not you would be hired for that particular job. If the job you can perform exists in another state and you could perform it, you will not be liable for disability benefits.

 However, consideration may be given depending on your age or even past job experienced. If you are almost retiring, you cannot receive the same treatment as a young worker. Again, if you have grade school experience, you may not be expected to work in an occupation requiring higher expertise. In other words, you may not be able to handle the least demanding work, whether it’s available or not. If you cannot handle even the so-called simple job for the unskilled, you will be considered disabled. The effect of your impairment has to be used to determine the severity of determining your disability benefits. 

For both physical and mental impairments, you will need to have medical records detailing your disabilities and how they affect your ability to work. Therefore, you need an experienced doctor who deals with disability cases. Your doctor should provide a clear record showing whether you can stand for long; carry light or heavy loads among others. Such evaluations require one to have an attorney in Anchorage to protect your rights.

 Social Security will determine whether you can handle your old job. Your RFC is what will reveal whether you are capable of performing your past job. For instance, they may look at what you have been doing for the past 15 years and whether you are experienced. If you are allowed to work, and can do the same work, you will not be considered a disabled person. However, where you have a sedentary RFC and cannot perform such work, it will evaluate whether you can perform other jobs and if not capable, you will eligible for disability benefits.

 An experienced lawyer can help you get a qualified doctor who can complete an RFC assessment form, collect and help you file for your disability benefits. He/she knows how to ensure the right information gets in your medical records and such recorded in your disability file.  If you have questions on how Social Security will handle your disability, you can arrange for a free consultation with an experienced disability lawyer.

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