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Residual Functional Capacity and Your Social Security Disability Application

While it can seem as though the process is entirely arbitrary, especially as you get caught in the endless waiting cycle or receive a denial, the process of determining your disability status is actually quite detailed and complex. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is tasked with determining if you are both disabled and unable to work, which can be challenging to determine from a single benefit application.

Reviewing your application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is not just a process of determining what you cannot do, but also determining what you can still do as a result of your disability. Both physical and mental impairments can affect your ability to work in certain positions or industries, but they may not entirely prevent you from working altogether.

Residual Functional Capacity: Finding What You Can Do

The disability claims examiner reviewing your application is responsible for deciding whether your disability will affect your ability to work, and to what extent. This is done by filling out a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment form. The examiner will use statements from your doctor to determine your mental or physical limitations and their severity.

Physical RFCs will include both exertional (actions requiring strength such as lifting, standing, pushing, and pulling) limitations as well as non-exertional (actions that do not require physical strength like communication, vision, use of hands and exposure) limitations.

There are several different levels assigned to exertional allowances, ranging from sedentary to heavy. These limitations will be judged against your current job skills and training to determine your eligibility for disability benefits.

Mental RFCs are completed when an applicant lists a mental or emotional difficulty or illness on their form, and the SSA determines it to be severe. Mental RFCs are slightly less rigid in form than physical RFCs, and will determine your ability to do several standard workplace tasks, including (but not limited to):

  • Interacting reasonably with the public and coworkers
  • Making simple decisions
  • Concentrating for extended periods of time
  • Tolerating normal amounts of stress
  • Following a schedule and routine

Your Social Security Disability attorney can help you make sure that your application or appeal has the proper information to ensure an accurate RFC is completed on your behalf. For assistance, call our offices today or fill out our online contact form!

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