What is Residual Functional Capacity and why it Matters in SSDI Claims?

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Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a number of factors when assessing your disability claim. A central goal of this assessment is to determine the nature of your disability and the limitations it imposes on you. Specifically, SSA wants to understand how your disability affects your ability to work. It is based on this assessment that SSA awards or rejects your disability benefits claim.

When trying to determine your work abilities, SSA uses a concept known as Residual Functional Capacity, or RFC. By measuring RFC, SSA essentially determines whether or not you can engage in a substantial gainful activity to earn money despite your disability. Contact our Greenville disability lawyers for help today.

Calculating the Residual Functional Capacity

Your RFC is determined by Disability Determination Services (DDS), an agency that examines the SSDI claims for SSA. The examiner at DDS will look at the medical documentation and any other evidence you provide. Based on this assessment, the examiner will note down your physical and mental functional capacities.

Physical functional capacities refer to your ability to sit, crouch, walk, stand, stoop and basically perform the everyday physical activities. The examiner determines the period of time for which you can do a particular activity, such as sitting.

Mental functional capacities include the ability to concentrate and focus on a task, learn new information, perform repetitive tasks and otherwise do any tasks that require mental prowess.

Based on the assessment of your physical and mental RFC, a DDS consultant will fill up the RFC form. This form then reflects your overall RFC which will be considered by SSA in deciding the fate of your benefits application.

Why Get Your Doctor to Fill RFC Form?

Although DDS consultants are charged with filling your RFC form, you can have your own doctor fill it when appealing a denial. You have the opportunity to provide this filled form as evidence to support your appeal in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).

An RFC form filled by your treating physician is immensely significant as SSA usually gives weight to the opinion of a doctor who has treated you first-hand. This is why such a form filled by your physician may be far more valuable during an appeal than the rest of the medical evidence.

Levels of Physical Activity on an RFC Form

When filling out an RFC form for you, your doctor or the DDS consultant will be required to categorize you according to different levels of physical activity. Following are the categorizations as they may appear on an RFC form:

  • Very Heavy Work: This refers to work which involves lifting weights of up to 100 pounds and more at any one time. Carrying 50 pounds on a routine basis also counts as very heavy work. If you are physically able to perform such a work, you will be categorized in this way. If your RFC covers such heavy work, your benefits application is very likely to be rejected.
  • Heavy Work: This category refers to work which involves lifting a 100 pounds weight occasionally and a weight of 50 pounds once a week or so. If you are added to this category, you are automatically eligible for all the subsequent categories.
  • Medium Work: Medium work refers to being able to lift up to 50 pounds at a given time and 25 pounds of weight on a routine basis.
  • Light Work: Light work involves being able to walk, stand and lift a weight of up to 20 pounds or more at a given time as well as a weight of 10 pounds or more frequently.
  • Sedentary Work: This category describes the lightest load of work. This is the threshold amount of work you must perform to earn a living. RFC categorization defines sedentary work as the kind of work where you have to mostly sit, carry only light weights such as tools and files, and perform more exertive tasks like walking and standing only occasionally.

Based on your assessment, the disability examiner may deem you suitable for work in one of the five categories. Or you may be deemed unsuitable for work altogether and your disability benefits application will be approved.

Hiring Disability Lawyers in Columbia SC

If you live in Columbia SC and want to file for SSDI benefits or appeal against a rejection of your application, we can help you. Here at Robert Surface Law Firm, we have highly qualified disability lawyers in Columbia SC who help you speed up the disability benefits application process. We work with you to meet various application requirements, such as RFC forms, at the earliest and seek the benefits you deserve in the briefest time possible. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our lawyers.