How Does the SSA Judge Your Residual Functional Capacity for Work?

When making a disability determination, the Social Security Administration will assess your residual functional capacity, which serves as an indicator of whether you are able to work. The SSA will examine an array of medical records, doctor’s notes, and other information to determine your limitations and ability to complete work tasks. For more information about your disability application or how your RFC affects your disability claim, contact Charlotte NC disability attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC.

Residual Functional Capacity RFC Disability Lawyer Charlotte NC

How Residual Functional Capacity Is Determined

When the SSA receives your application for disability benefits, they will try to determine to what extent your conditions prevent you from working. They will do this by assessing which activities and tasks you are able to do.

A disability claims examiner will complete a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment form, using your medical records, statements from doctors, and other evidence you have submitted. The SSA will review the limitations of your disability and state what you can and cannot do according to your records.

For example, if you can stand for up to two hours and sit for four or more hours, then that will be noted. You may also have restrictions on specific things like standing on ladders or operation of hazardous machinery.

Physical RFCs and Your Disability Application

If you have one or more physical impairments, then the SSA will assess your physical RFCs. This will include exertional as well as non-exertional work.

Exertional levels of work may be rated as sedentary, light, medium, or heavy. They assess to what extent you can do physical activities, including:

  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Pushing
  • Pulling

Non-exertional limitations are assessed in the following areas:

  • Postural
  • Manipulative
  • Visual
  • Communicative
  • Environmental

The physical RFC will evaluate your symptoms and how the impact your abilities. It will also ask for a treating or examining source statement.

What Level of Work Can You Complete?

A physical RFC will operate to determine which level of work you are able to complete: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy. The SSA will review your limitations and place you in one of those physical work categories.

  • Sedentary work is that which expects you to lift no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lift and carry small things like files and tools. These jobs are mostly sitting, but you may be expected to walk and stand on occasion.
  • Light work requires lifting up to 20 pounds on occasion and frequently lifting up to 10 pounds. This type of work requires frequent walking and standing along with the ability to push and pull with arms and legs. Additionally, if you can do light work, the SSA will consider you able to do sedentary work.
  • Medium work requires you to lift up to 50 pounds and frequently carry up to 25 pounds. If you’re able to do medium work, the SSA will consider you able to do lower levels of work.
  • Heavy work requires you to lift up to 100 pounds occasionally and up to 50 pounds frequently. If you’re able to do heavy work, the SSA will consider you able to do lower levels of work.
  • Very heavy work requires you to lift items over 100 pounds, and lift or carry items up to 50 pounds frequently. If you’re able to do very heavy work, the SSA will consider you able to do all other levels of work.

Mental RFCs and Your Disability Application

If your conditions include mental difficulties or emotional illnesses, then the SSA will likely assess your mental RFCs as well. Mental RFCs assess the following:

  • Understanding and memory
  • Sustained concentration and persistence
  • Social interaction
  • Adaptation

These are ranked by level of ability rated in the following manner:

  • Not significantly limited
  • Moderately limited
  • Markedly limited
  • No evidence of limitation in this category
  • Not rateable on available evidence

The assessment form will also ask the examiner for a functional capacity assessment in narrative form. This gives the examiner an opportunity to summarize any conclusions based on medical records or an examination of the claimant.

Applying RFCs to Your Disability

The SSA will use your residual functional capacity to determine what types of jobs you may be able to perform. They must consider both your physical and mental limitations. They will look at requirements for jobs in the United States and determine whether there are jobs that are as demanding or less demanding than your abilities according to your RFCs. If you are unable to do any simple, unskilled jobs, the SSA is more likely to deem you eligible for disability benefits.

The SSA will also determine if you are able to complete prior jobs. They will look at your jobs for the past 15 years and determine whether your current level of RFC will work at those jobs as well. They will also evaluate your education, age, skills, and more to determine if you can learn a new job that is similar or different to your old jobs.

Call a Charlotte NC Disability Lawyer Today to Learn More About Residual Functional Capacity Assessments

The disability process can be long and complex, so it’s best to consult with an experienced disability attorney to determine your chances of being approved for Social Security disability benefits. Call attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC to learn more.