Sunday, November 09, 2008

Using an RFC Form to Win a Disability Case

I just got some very nice comments from Kevin who stated that he believes the RFC forms provided on the home page of may have helped him win his case. I was gratified to read his comments so I have posted them here.

This is what I usually say about RFC forms. They can be invaluable at a disability hearing (and if your disability lawyer doesn't at least try to get a completed RFC statement from your doctors, think about getting a new lawyer). However, at the lower levels, including the application for disability and the request for reconsideration appeal, there's no real guarantee of how effective an RFC form can be.

Here's what I mean. When I was a disability examiner for social security, we routinely received supporting statements from the doctors of claimants. Typically, our front line management was of a mind to completely discount those statements. For the most part, DDS (disability determination services) will simply not give the same credence to a doctor's RFC statement as will a disability judge at a hearing.

However, let me also say this. 99 percent of the time that we did receive statements from doctors at the initial claim and reconsideration levels, we didn't get a real RFC form from them. We received only a short, barely substantiated statement that said nothing about the claimant's functional limitations. In other words, it was practically useless. Had we gotten a real RC form completed by a claimant's treating physician, who knows? It might have actually made the difference on the case.

This is why I believe the social security administration should send RFC forms to every claimant's treating physician. They won't, of course. It would cost more money (you'd have to reimburse the physician certainly, in addition to reimbursement for records) and more cases would be won, which would also cost more in benefits payable.

Kevin's comments are below. I'd also like to thank Dave for his nice comments in the preceding post. It was really interesting to receive comments and perspective from someone who used to work in a field office as a CR (my wife is a CR and a former examiner) and as a manager. Dave has an interesting blog titled "Disabled Persons United" which I will be adding to my blogroll monday morning.

If you'd like free mental or physical RFC forms, simply go to, scroll to the bottom of them page, and download the forms (they are in word format). However, please note that this is not the same form that is used by DDS examiners (primarily to deny cases). It is instead a form that was created to replace a number of different RFC forms that addressed individual impairments. In other words, it was designed to capture everything that might be relevant to functional limitations for use at a hearing, though it can be used effectively at the application and reconsideration levels. The form was designed a few years ago and has been used in several thousand disability hearings by now.

I used the forms for both doctors (Psychiatrist, And Medical). It took a little effort on my part to have them fill it out but I believe this is one reason I was approved in (what I think is an astonishing time) of 107 days. As I stated before I used most if not ALL of your secrets to my advantage. Thank You once again, KevinP Madkevinp

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Income from a spouse - will it affect whether or not I can get disability ?
Social Security Disability and Lowered IQ
Are there disability benefits for children?
Social Security Disability Hearing
What does Social Security Disability consider a Mental Impairment?
Applying for Social Security Disability in Michigan

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Blogger erika cotter said...

Thank you soooo much for all the information you put out there, I am currently in the reconsideration phase. I had my doctor fill out a rfc form, and she also wrote a letter. I hope it helps. I would never have even known about the rfc form if it had not been for you. I do have a question. I am moving to Colorado from Ohio and need to have my case trasferred, since it is going to a different state and dds, are my chances better? Not to mention that I am providing any documentation I can get my hands on to help, since they are not to motivated to get the actual info they need to make a decision.

Thank you again, and God Bless.


4:04 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Hi Erika,

For a case at any level, the more information the better. The RFC form may very well help you at the recon level. However, I will say that disability examiners and DDS generally do not give as much credence to the opinions of treating physicians. That's not just my opinion, but the opinion of many former and current disability examiners. However, I can personally verify that at the hearing level, a strong, favorable RFC can certainly help win a case. If your claim gets denied at recon (I'll cross my fingers for you), then your or your representative--I'd recommend one for a hearing--should get your doctor to complete another RFC just prior to the hearing. Don't get it too soon or it may not be considered valid in terms of being recent evidence for which a decision can be made to award continuing benefits. Good luck.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Sorry, forgot to address your question about moving. Honestly, there's no way to know, even if you move to a state for which the approval stats are better. In a DDS, you could literally take a case to one processing unit and get one decision, and then take it to another unit with a different supervisor and get a totally different decision. One of the flaws of the system is that it is not nearly as objective as people think.

1:11 PM  
Blogger EagleEye said...

I used your RFC form to help my sister win her disability appeal at the reconsideration level. Thank you for posting this invaluable document on your website.

Her Notice of Award has a mistake in her date of eligibility. She was found disabled under SSA rules on April 2, 2007, but her eligibility date is listed as August 2008. Given the required five full-month waiting period, her eligibility date should be October 2007 (something the SSA folks agree with over the phone). She has received back pay from August 2008, but I'm trying to get retroactive pay from October 2007 for her, too. Her local field office says the case was sent to the "payment center" almost two months ago, but I can't get more of an update than that. My question is: Does she need to file some kind of appeal paperwork for the error? I don't want to appeal the decision since it was favorable, but her 60-day window is approaching for filing an appeal if something like that is necessary.

Fixing the eligibility date is important because of the retroactive pay, but also because she would be eligible for Medicare sooner as well.

Any thoughts on how I should proceed?

And thanks again for the RFC form. It was an extremely vital part of our appeal package.


9:23 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Hi Debbie, I posted a response on this page: Social Security Disability Notice of Award Question

8:41 PM  

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