When determining whether you truly have a disability that prevents you from working, Social Security will use the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment form to ascertain what activities and tasks you can still perform. In short, an RFC looks at both your abilities and limitations.
For example, you may be able to stand for two hours and sit for four hours, but you may not be able to lift any weight. The claims examiner will use both your medical records and physician’s statements to complete a physical or mental RFC, depending on the form of your limitations.
Your residual functional capacity has a significant impact on whether or not Social Security decides to award you disability benefits. For more information about this assessment, contact a Bakersfield disability lawyer at Oren & Oren today.
If you are physically disabled, you have to prove to Social Security that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from doing any work. A physical residual functional capacity details the extent of your abilities as well as your limitations.
Your physical RFC will measure the intensity of the physical work you can do, including your ability to do the following:
- carry, or
- push or pull objects.
Social Security uses a grid of rules meant to simplify the disability review process. Depending on your RFC, you may automatically be considered disabled. Factors including your age, exertion level — i.e. sedentary, light, medium, or heavy — your past work experience, and your job skills or training all impact Social Security’s decision.
For example, if you are age 49 or older and limited to sedentary work, you automatically qualify for disability benefits. However, if your previous work was sedentary, or you possess job skills which enable you to do sedentary work, you may not qualify for disability benefits.
What if your situation doesn’t conform to any grid rules? For instance, if you are under age 49, your residual functional capacity will be compared to the demands of your previous job. If you’re able to perform the same activities, Social Security will consider you able to work. You, therefore, won’t qualify for disability benefits. If your residual functional capacity prevents you from doing your past job, Social Security will determine if you can do any job before they approve disability benefits.
Non-exertional limitations include the use of fine motor skills, blindness, or deafness. Social Security assess these limitations using a function-by-function analysis of the duties related to your previous job, as well as other potential jobs, to determine if you can perform the required tasks. Other types of non-exertional limitations are below:
- Inability to crouch, crawl, stoop, or climb
- Inability to withstand extreme temperatures
- Sensitivity to sunlight, fumes, or dust
- Inability to use your hands for writing, typing, or grasping objects
If your limitations are related to mental functioning or emotional illness and are included on your disability application, they will be reviewed by Social Security. If the agency determines your limitations are severe, they will prepare a residual functional capacity (or an MRFC). The mental residual functional capacity will detail your ability to function in the following ways:
- Understand, remember, or follow instructions
- Concentrate for long periods of time
- Maintain a schedule as well as perform tasks without supervision
- Be punctual in addition to having regular attendance
- Make job-related decisions
- Interact appropriately with the public
- Accept criticism or correction from supervisors
- Relate to co-workers without disrupting their work
- Maintain proper hygiene
- Adapt to changes in your work environment
- Tolerate normal stress
To learn more about how Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) could affect your disability benefits, speak to a Bakersfield CA Disability Lawyer today.
There are no grid rules for mental residual functional capacity. Social Security will compare your RFC to the demands of your previous position to see if you can continue to work. If you’re unable to do your previous job, Social Security will then consider whether you can perform a less mentally demanding job. They use your physical and mental RFCs to determine if you can perform simple or unskilled work. If you can’t, they will subsequently consider you disabled.
What You Can Do to Help Your Claim
Be sure your residual functional capacity file is both detailed and accurately reflects your limitations. Your doctor can fill out the forms regarding physical and mental limitations. Your doctor should specify if your mental limitations are:
- somewhat limited,
- seriously limited, or
- extremely limited.