How Social Security Judges Your Physical or Mental Capacity (RFC) for Work

In order for you to be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must suffer from an injury or illness which prevents you from working in any capacity. In other words, you must not be able to take part in a substantial gainful activity because of your injury/illness.

Proving that you are unable to work in any capacity can oftentimes be an uphill battle. Moreover, you will need to have a healthcare provider on board in your case. The healthcare provider must be able to state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that your injury or illness prevents you from working. Likewise, Social Security will require a disability claims examiner to complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment form.

If you believe that you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits, it is important that you have knowledgeable legal help on your side. An experienced California Social Security disability attorney can assist you with pursuing your disability claim and gathering the necessary documentation that you will need for your claim to be successful.

Determining Your Ability to Work

When it comes to determining your ability to work, Social Security will complete an RFC assessment. To complete this form, the disability claims examiner will rely upon statements from your healthcare provider, as well as your medical records. In a nutshell, an RFC assessment will describe the activities that you are able to do, as well as the activities that you are not able to do, because of the limitations which your disability presents. For example, depending upon your disability, an RFC assessment might describe how you are able to stand up for a limited period but that you are unable to operate various types of machinery at your job because of this limitation.

Types of RFCs in Disability Claims

There are several types of RFCs that Social Security uses to gauge an individual’s ability or inability to complete various types of work. For example, physical RFC’s are used when you are claiming some type of physical impairment that limits your ability to work. The RFC assessment will include the amount of exertion that you are able to expend in your work. A person’s exertion level usually depends upon the extent to which he or she can carry, lift, stand, and walk.

When completing an RFC, Social Security will also consider various non-exertional limitations. These limitations do not involve the strength of a person and often include a worker’s ability to use his or her fingers or to hear and see. 

Finally, in cases where a person lists some type of mental impairment on a disability application, Social Security will complete a mental RFC to determine how severe that condition is and whether it prevents the person from working. In determining the severity of a mental condition, Social Security will look at a person’s ability to carry out and understand instructions, maintain concentration and attention for a long period of time, interact with the public, and perform one or more tasks according to a set schedule. If Social Security determines that a person is unable to complete any unskilled or simple job, he or she may be deemed disabled due to a medical condition.

An experienced California Social Security disability attorney can help you understand the importance of RFCs on your eligibility for recovering disability benefits.