If you are planning on applying for disability benefits, you should familiarize yourself with the Residual Functional Capacity or RFC form. This form helps the Social Security Administration (SSA) rate a claimant's functional capacity after taking into consideration his or her physical or mental disability. The SSA's Disability Determination Services (DDS) office will use this form in addition to other documents to determine whether a claimant is disabled.
To have a chance at securing disability benefits, it is important that your RFC form is filled out completely and accurately. The attorneys at our firm can further explain why this document is crucial for getting your claim approved and how asking your own doctor to fill this form out can help prove that you medically qualify for disability benefits.
What is Residual Functional Capacity?
Residual functional capacity refers to a person's ability to perform basic work functions, given his or her limitations caused by a disability. The SSA needs to have an understanding of the physical and mental tasks that you cannot do based on your impairment. Before disability, you were able to perform at your full functional capacity. Then, your disability diminishes this in some measurable way. Your RFC defines what you can still do and identifies what you cannot do in a work environment.
Process for Filing an RFC Form
Once you submit an application for Social Security Disability benefits, a claim examiner will assess your case and complete a write-up. This write-up will support your approval or denial for benefits. The examiner will also present your case to a DDS specialist who completes an RFC form and rates your RFC.
However, what the DDS specialist will not likely inform you of is that you can have your own doctor complete this form. To do that, you will want to bring the RFC form with you to your next appointment, inform your doctor that you are applying for disability benefits and ask that he or she prepare the form. You will likely need to return to the medical office to retrieve it. If it has been a couple of weeks since you provided the form and have not yet received it, follow up with him or her.
Once your doctor completes and signs the form, you will need to submit it with your other requested documents to the SSA.
Physical RFC Form
The physical RFC form helps the SSA identify how much physical activity you can do by assigning you a work level. These work levels range from sedentary and light work to medium and heavy workloads. The form will indicate how long you can sit, stand, walk, crouch and stoop in addition to how much you can lift and how well you can grasp or reach overhead. Combined with your previous work history, your physical RFC level plays an important part in whether or not your claim is approved.
For instance, if your physical RFC level aligns with your job's physical demands, the SSA will assume you are not totally disabled and can return to work. The SSA may also decide you can still work in some capacity despite your disability if your physical RFC form lists other issues that may limit your work capabilities. These issues may include the inability to kneel, visual impairments or having trouble hearing or communicating.
Mental RFC Form
If you have an emotional or mental condition that forms the basis of a claim or contributes to another disability, you will also need to submit a mental RFC form. This form will cover your ability to perform different mental tasks and interact with others in the workplace. This can include the following:
- Understanding, remembering and following directions
- Paying attention and concentrating on tasks for long periods of time
- Recalling locations, work procedures and routine job tasks
- Working with others without being easily distracted
- Responding appropriately to directions and feedback
- Tolerating normal job-related stress levels
Why Your Doctor Should Fill Out the Form for You
Having your doctor complete your RFC form increases your chances of being awarded Social Security Disability benefits. Your doctor will have a more developed understanding of how your disability affects you and your ability to work. Forms completed by your treating doctor often carry more weight with the SSA. He or she is often in a better position to provide information on your physical or mental limitations. A doctor's RFC also allows you to present a professional interpretation of your medical records.
How the SSA Determines Your RFC Without Cooperation From Your Doctor
If your doctor does not complete your RFC form, the DDS will ask a medical or psychological consultant to complete the form who will review the medical evidence in your claim and prepare the RFC rating. Typically, these assessments are not helpful to claimants and usually justify denials rather than approvals for benefits.
Get Legal Help from a Dedicated Attorney Today
If you need help obtaining disability benefits, it is essential that you work with a qualified Social Security attorney or advocate. The dedicated Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm can evaluate your claim and help you get the filing process started. There are no upfront costs for our legal services unless we obtain benefits on your behalf.
Schedule your free case review today by calling 1-800-503-2000.