Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Social Security Disability SSI and Residual Functional Capacity

Residual functional capacity is not a phrase that most social security disability or SSI claimants will ever hear. However, the concept plays a role in most disability claims.

What is residual functional capacity? Well, the phrase simply means what its words imply. However, the easiest way to put it is this: residual functional capacity is what an individual is still capable of doing despite their condition (or conditions).

In other words, if you are filing for disability and you have condition X, how does condition X limit you and in what ways does it limit you, i.e. what can you still do?

A claimant's residual functional capacity directly impacts their chances of being approved for benefits because it determines 1. whether a claimant can return to their past work, and 2. whether or not a claimant is capable is capable of doing other work.

How is residual functional capacity actually measured? By reading a claimant's medical records. How is residual functional capacity recorded? On an RFC form. RFC forms are used by disability examiners and by the unit medical consultants they consult with (for mental allegations, there is an equivalent form).

Note: many people in disability-related forums confuse the RFC form used by the social security administration with other forms that are available for purchase. THESE ARE NOT THE SAME FORMS. In fact, contrary to what many individuals in forums believe, you should probably shy away from using the SSA RFC form. After all, these are the same forms that are used to routinely deny disability claims.

It is generally an excellent idea to have one's treating physicians provided a completed medical source statement / RFC form for a disability hearing (it may not be beneficial to provide one at the lower levels since disability examiners do not give proper credence to statements from treating physicians).

However, the form completed by a doctor for a hearing should be one that has been obtained elsewhere. In other words, don't use the RFC form which is used by the social security administration. This particular form does not elicit the proper information from one's treating physician, nor does it allow for sufficient detail in this regard. As I indicated, the form used by SSA was not designed with the best interests of disability claimants in mind.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Getting Disability
Getting ready for a disability hearing
How long does it take get a decision after a Disability Hearing ?