If you are unable to work due to a medical condition or disability, you may be entitled to Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration uses residual functional capacity (RFC) to assess your eligibility for benefits. Residual functional capacity measures how much a person’s disabling impairments prevent him or her from meeting the requirements of the workplace.

Reach Out to a Los Angeles Disability Attorney

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a challenging process. You will need to show that your residual functional capacity prevents you from working. Disability Advocates Group can help you submit a thorough and accurate application that demonstrates your limitations. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to schedule a free initial consultation. 

Determining Physical Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

RFC determinations fall into three categories: physical, mental, or other. A person’s physical RFC depends on which health conditions have affected his or her ability to perform physical activities while on the job, specifically, whether the claimant:

  • Can walk or stand for long periods of time
  • Experiences discomfort or pain when sitting or remaining in the same positions while working
  • Can bend over, crawl, kneel, or reach for objects

The physical RFC forms break down each activity into five categories: never, rarely, occasionally, frequently, and constantly. How long the claimant can perform certain activities depends on the exertion level at which the claimant will be able to perform work. There are five recognized exertion levels in an RFC: 

  • Sedentary work
  • Light work
  • Medium work
  • Heavy work
  • Very heavy work

Mental Residual Functional Capacity

The medical consultant will also examine whether the claimant’s work and medical records demonstrate limited mental residual functional capacity. The medical consultant will consider a claimant’s ability to carry out instructions while at work or interact with managers and employees and consider whether the claimant can follow directions, as well as speak and respond appropriately to managers, coworkers, and customers. 

Finally, the medical consultant may consider other factors such as impairments to hearing or vision or irritation to the lungs or skin that may make them unable to work in certain conditions. If a claimant has seizures or epilepsy, the examiner will consider whether these render him or her unable to work. 

How Is Residual Functional Capacity Used?

The claims examiner will use your RFC to determine whether you can be expected to do your current job. Specifically, the claims examiner will carefully consider your work history for the last 15 years to determine what type of work you’ve done and know how to do. For example, if a doctor has restricted an employee to standing and walking no longer than two hours every day, the RFC will be for sedentary work. Next, the claims examiner will compare your RFC level to the level of your past work experience.

For example, suppose your previous job was sedentary and involved computer work, and your RFC is for sedentary work or higher. In that case, the claims examiner will likely determine that you should be able to return to your job. However, suppose your RFC includes restrictions like an inability to remember instructions due to memory problems or mental limitations. In that case, the examiner will likely determine that you cannot return to your prior job.

If your prior job was rated for medium work, such as a mail carrier or auto mechanic job, and you’ve been assigned a light RFC, the examiner may find that you cannot return to your former job. Should the claims examiner decide you can’t continue your previous job, they will use your RFC to determine if you should reasonably be able to learn another type of job. This determination will depend on your age, RFC, skills, and education.

The Value of Submitting Your Own Doctor’s Opinion

An experienced disability attorney will improve the Social Security Administration’s likelihood of accepting your claim. You will need to provide evidence that you cannot return to your previous job or another type of job to become eligible for disability benefits. A disability attorney can help you provide evidence that shows that your RFC does not allow you to continue working in any job. The Department of Developmental Services will use the opinion of one of their medical consultants who may not be familiar with you or your condition to establish your RFC. 

The doctor you see regularly is better positioned to understand the full limitations and effects of your disability because they have been personally treating your medical condition. An attorney can help your own doctor submit a comprehensive RFC form that explains, in detail, the limitations you currently have and how your medical condition or disability causes those limitations.

How Can An Attorney Help Me?

Unfortunately, some doctors are reluctant to complete these forms due to clinic policies and time constraints. An attorney can help you convince your doctor to complete your RFC form, which can significantly help your claim. When you work with Disability Advocates Group, we will guide you throughout the entire process by:

  • Finding your clinic or hospital’s policies on completing RFC forms
  • Deciding which of your doctor’s findings will be the most helpful for your claim
  • Requesting that your doctor complete an RFC form
  • Submitting the completed form to Social Security, and
  • Providing your doctors with the correct form and complete instructions for completing it

Contact an Experienced Disability Attorney in Los Angeles

At Disability Advocates Group, we provide legal help to Los Angeles area residents applying for Social Security benefits. When you work with us, you can rest assured that we will help you at every step of the process. We will ensure that your residual functional capacity has been correctly determined so you will receive the benefits you need and deserve. If your claim has been denied, we can also help you appeal your claim. Contact Disability Advocates Group today to discuss your case with an experienced disability attorney.