Residual Function Capacity and Social Security Disability Claims

The Social Security Administration (SSA) must know what you can and cannot do on a job before it makes a decision on your disability claim. The SSA will take into account both the extent of your disability and your capability or functionality in coming to a determination in your specific case.

Evaluating Your RFC

If you have a medical condition that does not fit into one of the SSA’s List of Impairments, then they will have an evaluation performed to determine what your functional capacity and limitations are and whether you can return to the work you used to do. This evaluation will determine what is called your residual functional capacity (RFC).

Generally, a disability claims examiner will work with a medical consultant who will review your medical records, including physician’s notes about your functional capacity and limitations. They will then make a decision about the type of work you can perform and the type of restrictions that may limit the work you do.

RFC and Strength Limitations and Impairment

The RFC will look at strength-related limitations that include your ability to:

  • stand
  • sit
  • lift
  • carry
  • walk
  • push
  • pull

Once your ability to exert has been defined, your RFC will be assigned to a certain category of work.

The RFC and Work

Depending on your ability to exert and your limitations, the RFC will determine whether you can reasonably perform various types of work, including:

Sedentary work. A restriction to sedentary or seated work means that a person has been determined to have the ability perform a job sitting, with the occasional requirement to walk or stand. The person will also be able to lift no more than 10 pounds at time.

Light work. A person who has been restricted to light work has been evaluated as able to lift up to 20 pounds on occasion and 10 pounds frequently. The job can also require frequent standing and walking with the ability to push and pull arms and legs.

Medium work. A person assigned to this RFC can lift up to 50 pounds at a time and carry frequently 25 pounds.

Heavy work. A person assigned to this RFC category can lift up to 100 pounds at a time and frequently carry up to 50 pounds.

Very heavy work. A person who has been evaluated into this category can lift weights of more than 100 pounds and frequently carry 50 pounds or more in your job.

A claim may generally be turned down your RFC determination means you are capable of performing work in one of the above categories. However, the SSA must also take into account whether you have other types of limitations, called non-exertional limitations. The exertional and non-exertional limitations are combined to come to a determination. Your age may also play a role in this determination if you are considered an “older” person.

RFC and Other Factors That Limit Your Work Ability

Non-exertional factors that are taken into account include your ability to:

  • stoop, climb, crawl, or crouch
  • use hands and fingers to reach, move, or handle things
  • talk, see, or hear
  • focus or concentrate
  • remember or understand instructions
  • function around noise, dust, or other environmental issues
  • work effectively out of depression, anxiety, or nerves

As you can see, the SSA claims disability process is extremely complicated. Combing exertional and non-exertional impairments to win a Social Security Disability Claim can be done, but you need to know how to do it. An experienced disability attorney can evaluate your case and help you understand how to tailor an effective approach to achieve your goals.

Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Claims Attorney in New Jersey

Find out how we can help you effectively navigate the SSD claims and RFC evaluation process. We encourage you to arrange a free case evaluation with an experienced attorney at Taylor and Boguski, in Mount Laurel, NJ. Please call 800-404-5299 or 856-234-2233 or contact us online.