How to File for Residual Functional Capacity

Published on: March 11, 2019

Qualifying for RFC

The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is a form that is filled out by your doctor. This form explains your ability—or inability—to perform work-related tasks, and find and maintain employment. As a matter of fact, this form is informally known as the “Ability to Do Work Related Activity” form. To be awarded Social Security Disability, you need to prove that not only are you medically disabled, but that you cannot perform any substantial work activity, and the RFC is pivotal to demonstrating this to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Having an RFC properly filled out is essential to increasing one’s chances at being awarded benefits by the SSA. It is important to know that the SSA doesn’t award benefits based on the diagnosis of disability alone; instead, it must be proven that the disabled person’s capabilities to perform work has been affected. It may, for example, indicate that the individual is capable of working at a computer station for a period of time, but not confined to a seated position for more than an hour at a time. Conversely, some individuals may no longer be able to stand for any great length of time. All those details, and how an individual’s disability makes an impact, is explained in the RFC.

The RFC is not necessarily a complicated form, but it is crucial to the acceptance or rejection of your disability application. So crucial, in fact, that it may be worth securing help from specialists.

How to Qualify for Residual Functional Capacity

Your ability to perform various types of work qualifies you for varying levels of disability benefits. These may include restrictions in walking, standing, or sitting behind a desk, as well as the number of hours permissible for that sort of work performance. How much can a person lift? Can they use their fingers for typing or remember instructions? These answers are detailed by the RFC form.

How to Qualify for Residual Functional Capacity

There are five types of work levels:

  • Sedentary: Able to lift no more than ten pounds, occasionally lifting or carrying things like files or small tools. This type of job involves mostly sitting, but the ability to stand or walk periodically is expected.

  • Light work: Able to lift up to 20 pounds occasionally, and frequently lift up to ten pounds. Light work may involve frequent walking or standing, with the ability to push and pull with arms and legs. A person who can do light work could also do sedentary work.

  • Medium work: Able to lift up to 50 pounds, and frequently lift or carry up to 25 pounds. A person who can do medium work could also do light or sedentary work.

  • Heavy work: Able to lift up to 100 pounds at a time, and frequently able to carry or lift up to 50 pounds. If a person is able to do heavy work, they can do medium, light, or sedentary work.

  • Very heavy work: Able to lift objects that are more than 100 pounds, and frequently lift or carry 50 pounds or more. A person who is able to do very heavy work is able to do all the other levels of work too.

This level is determined by a disability claims examiner, who works with a medical consultant with the Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDS is a state agency that works for the SSA to help determine capabilities and restrictions for job performance and tasks. The medical consultant reviews medical records to determine the RFC. The past 15 years of employment is also considered and contrasted with what can be accomplished now with the disability. It is important to note that it is up to the individual filing for RFC to present all medical evidence.

How to File a Residual Functional Capacity Form

Although the RFC form itself isn’t difficult, the claim process is intense. There are a lot of forms and paperwork that are required for the SSA. When filing for a disability claim, there is more than just the RFC form to contend with, which can make for an overwhelming experience for many.

The SSA’s DDS will fill out the RFC for claimants, rating them on their residual functional capacity. What is not often mentioned is that a doctor can also fill out an RFC form too, which will increase the chances of being awarded Social Security Disability benefits. Being filled out by a physician provides the impartial and unbiased medical opinion needed by the SSA to accurately ascertain the impact a disability will have on employment.

To have a doctor fill out an RFC form, download it from the SSA’s website or from a local branch office and take it into the physician’s office. Some doctors may charge a nominal fee to complete the form, but it will be well worth having it in hand before submitting a disability claim. Many administrative law judges (ALJs) who review Social Security Disability appeals often give substantial weight to RFC forms that are filled out by an applicant's doctor.

For those who did not present an RFC form initially, consider bringing one to the judge that presides over the disability hearing. Just as it is wise to have a doctor involved in the RFC form, many will find it just as helpful to have an attorney to guide them through the entire process. The Disability Experts of Florida has four offices for your convenience located in Spring Hill, Dade City, Brandon, and Lakeland. Whether you need assistance with Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income we are here to help. Contact us today for a Free Consultation.


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