Friday, January 23, 2009

Regarding a Social Security Disability Evaluation

Ed recently submitted a question in a comment and I thought it merited a post, so here is Ed's question followed by my response.

Thank you for the insights you share. I've been following your blog since I filed my social security disability application in 2007. Currently, my disability attorney and I are awaiting an ALJ hearing date (which could be several more months). My primary care physician completed a supportive RFC and my attorney has it on file with my medical evidence. The specialist treating my condition will not complete RFC forms for his patients. However, he has referred me to a physical therapy group to have a Physical Capacity Evaluation completed. Does a PCE carry as much weight as an RFC with a hearing judge?

Ed, RFC forms are used to capture objective statements from treating physicians with regard to the functional abilities, and limitations, of claimants. And whether the form is called an RFC form or a medical source statement, or some other term, the effectiveness of the form simply depends on how much information it "captures". This is why a detailed RFC form is potentially much more useful than a very short form since it captures more information from a doctor as to residual, or remaining, function.

I can't be certain, because semantics are sometimes an issue, but it sounds like you're referring to a functional capacity evaluation which is a performance measure of functional capabilities. Honestly, the only way to really know how effective this type of evaluation might be (I say this because I'm not sure if the evaluation is standardized or if it varies somewhat based on the administrator of the evaluation) would be to see an example of a blank FCE (or PCE) form, to see what type of information it may obtain and present to an adjudicator (an examiner or judge) for the social security administration.

If you go to the home page of and scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see a link to download a physical RFC form. You can view this form to see what information the form concerns itself with. If the form used for the FCE or PCE obtains the same information, to the same degree, it "may be" just as useful.

Personally, however, I have never felt comfortable with any type of functional rating that does not come firsthand from your treating physician. And, of course, it's always preferable to get an RFC statement from a treating physician who not only treats you but understands your limitations and, ideally, has expressed support for your filing for disability. In any event, make sure that the results of this evaluation do not go to the social security administration without going to your disability attorney FIRST. Your disability attorney's function is to advocate for you, but also to protect you.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Social Security Disability Hearing Decisions
Checking the credentials of a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Will a Disability Lawyer decline taking your disability case ?
Using a Social Security Disability Advocate to Help with Medical Records
Can I afford a disability attorney or representative for my claim?

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Blogger Lance said...

I applied for SSDI in June. i have had numerous phone interviews and face to face interviews. They had scheduled me a medical review twice and cancelled then both. Now the latest letter says there will not be a medical review unless it's determined it's needed at a later date. They told me that i had satisfied all the requirments and was just awaiting a decision.
So what is happening now? Any ideas?

7:33 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Lance, I addressed your comments here: Social Security Disability Medical Evaluation Questions

5:50 PM  

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