As I discussed in my post last week (4/5/11), “residual functional capacity” (RFC) is your current ability to perform work-related functions, despite the physical and/or mental limitations caused by your impairment. If your claim for Social Security disability benefits is based on a mental disorder, proving your limited RFC can be challenging. In general, you will need to establish that you are severely limited in your ability to perform the basic mental functions required for work, on a sustained basis (e.g., for an 8-hour workday, 5 days a week). Basic work-related mental functions include:
- Following simple instructions;
- Exercising sound judgment in relation to simple work-related decisions;
- Responding appropriately to supervision;
- Dealing appropriately with co-workers and typical work situations; and
- Handling changes in a routine work setting.
Your testimony at your disability hearing will be a key piece of evidence in establishing your mental RFC. You should be prepared to give detailed answers to questions like these:
- Are you able to concentrate and focus your attention for a block of time, say for the two hours between the time you might first arrive at work and your first scheduled break?
- Do you work well on a schedule?
- Are you able to work on your own, without special supervision?
- Do you find it distracting to work with others or in close proximity to others?
- Are you able to maintain a regular schedule – show up at work on time, every day? Why not?
- Do you feel confident in your ability to make decisions? Why not?
- How is your memory? Please give us some examples.
- Are you comfortable asking questions or asking for help?
If your claim for Social Security disability benefits based on a mental disorder was denied, it is possible that the Social Security decision-maker overestimated your RFC. An experienced Detroit disability attorney can help you gather evidence to establish on appeal the actual, limited extent of your ability to work. If you are not currently represented, please contact me for a free consultation.