One of the elements the SSA will evaluate in order to determine whether or not you are eligible for disability benefits is your residual functional capacity (RFC). A disability claims examiner will use medical records and doctor’s statements to ascertain what activities you are still able to perform despite your disability. But how does this assessment impact your Social Security disability claim?
According to the SSA, your residual functional capacity is “the most you can still do despite your limitations.” Essentially, it determines how much you can do for how long in spite of your condition. That includes your ability to do typical work activities and functions you may need for activities of daily living.
There are two types of RFCs: physical and mental.
Physical RFCs look at things that you do with your body for work. It considers exertional and non-exertional limitations as well, or to what extent you can do things. Mental RFCs review your emotional and mental difficulty at work. You are not required to have both physical and mental RFCs, but if you claim to have them both, they will have a large impact on whether or not you will be able to receive disability benefits.
Your physical RFC will assess what level of activity you can sustain as well as your limitations. Your doctor may restrict your physical activity level depending on your condition and symptoms. Levels of activity include the following:
- Sedentary. You can lift no more than 10 pounds and occasionally carry files or small tools. This is mostly sitting, but you can walk or stand occasionally.
- Light. You can lift up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently. This requires frequent walking and standing with the ability to push and pull with your arms and legs. If you are able to do light work, then it is assumed you can do sedentary work.
- Medium. You can lift up to 50 pounds at a time and frequently carry up to 25 pounds. If you are able to do medium work, then you should be able to do light and sedentary work.
- Heavy. You can lift up to 100 pounds at a time and frequently carry up to 50 pounds. If you are able to do heavy work, then you should be able to do medium, light, and sedentary work.
- Very Heavy. You can lift more than 100 pounds and frequently carry more than 50 pounds. If you can do very heavy work, then you are assumed to be able to do all other levels of work as well.
Physical RFCs look at whether you can:
- Push and pull objects
The Physical RFC also evaluates the following limitations:
Your doctor will be able to address specific symptoms that result in these limitations and explain your situation. You should encourage your doctor to complete the Physical RFC form in as detailed a manner as possible, as this can increase your chances of obtaining disability benefits.
If you list mental difficulties or emotional illnesses on your disability application, the SSA will investigate your mental RFC as well. A Mental RFC Assessment assesses your ability to:
- Understand and remember
- Sustain concentration and persistence
- Interact socially
- Adapt to various situations
- Carry out instructions
- Perform tasks according to a schedule
- Maintain a routine
- Make simple decisions
- Tolerate normal levels of stress
- Attend work regularly
Your doctor will have an opportunity to make additional remarks and document any other deficiencies that you experience that do not fall within the questions of the Mental RFC Assessment.
How the SSA Will Use Your RFC
The SSA will compare the physical and mental activities of your prior jobs and your current abilities. If you are unable to complete the tasks of prior jobs, the SSA will consider whether you can do anything similar in the current job market. In order to be considered able to work, you must be able to work in a productive manner without the need to take frequent breaks.
Learn More About RFCs and How They Impact Your Claim
It’s important that your disability file contact a detailed, accurate RFC that reflects your limitations. An experienced Detroit disability attorney can make sure that your doctors provide the necessary information. Contact attorney Marc J. Shefman today to learn more about how we can help.