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The SSA’s Residual Functional Capacity—What Work Can You Still Do?

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on Jan 11, 2013 in Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a five-step process in order to review disability benefits applications. The process is used to determine if the applicant is disabled and entitled to monthly disability benefit payments.

The SSA uses a standardized listing of disabling conditions called the Blue Book, or Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. Generally, if your condition is listed in the Blue Book, the SSA will grant your disability claim. If it is not listed but is functionally equivalent to a condition or combination of conditions in the Blue Book, you will be approved as well.

If your condition is not listed in the Blue Book but is deemed serious, the SSA will review your application. The SSA must determine if your condition interferes with the type of work you did previously. This involves reviewing all of the available evidence to determine what work you can still do—even with your impairment. The SSA calls this your residual functional capacity or RFC.

When assessing your RFC, the SSA looks at your ability to do the following:

  • Handle the physical demands of your job such as sitting, standing, lifting and carrying.
  • Handle the dexterity requirements of your job such as manipulating objects with your hands, kneeling, crouching, crawling or climbing ladders.
  • Tolerate workplace conditions such as weather and temperature extremes, heights, noise, dust, gases and poor ventilation.
  • See, hear and speak with others at work.
  • Concentrate on work-related tasks.
  • Comprehend and complete assigned tasks.
  • Respond in a fitting manner to supervisors and co-workers under normal work conditions.
  • Deal with changes that occur in the workplace.

In certain cases, your disability prevents you from performing your previous job but does not prohibit you from doing other types of work. The residual functional capacity is used to determine what tasks you may be able to perform. While it is supposed to be a methodical and fair process, it is still very subjective. Often, the SSA denies initial Social Security Disability benefit applications. If your Social Security Disability application has been denied, let the skilled and experienced Harrisburg Social Security Disability attorneys at Schmidt Kramer help. Call us today at 888-476-0807 to schedule your free case consultation.