An Introduction to Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)


Posted by: Chris

Before approving your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) will need to determine if you are truly disabled. One step in this process is calculating an applicant’s residual functional capacity, or RFC. If you are applying for disability benefits, this is a term that you need to understand.

What is RFC?

The SSA will perform an RFC assessment to determine how your medical condition affects your ability to work. When performing this assessment, the SSA will consider a number of factors, including your ability to:

  • See, hear, and communicate with others.
  • Remember basic instructions.
  • Sit or stand for a long period of time.
  • Lift, carry, push, or pull heavy objects.
  • Respond appropriately to changes in the environment.
  • Perform certain movements, such as kneeling, climbing, bending over, and using your fingers.

The SSA will use the medical records that you have provided to determine whether you are able to perform the tasks listed above.

Levels of Activity

After assessing your limitations, the SSA will assign you to one of three categories, which represent different levels of activity. People that are able to sit in the same position for long periods of time and lift up to 10 pounds will be placed in the “sedentary work” category. If you can walk or stand for long periods of time and lift up to 20 pounds, you will be placed in the “light work” category. Applicants that can walk, stand, lift up to 25 pounds, and occasionally lift even heavier weights will fall in the “medium work” category.

Then, the SSA will look at your category, age, and work history to determine if you should be able to perform the duties of your job. For example, a 30-year-old receptionist in the “sedentary work” category should not have trouble performing the duties of her job. Therefore, the SSA will most likely deny her benefits because her medical condition has not affected her ability to work.

However, a 50-year-old construction worker that falls in the “sedentary work” category will not be able to go back to work because he is not able to meet the physical demands of this type of work. In this case, the SSA will look at his education and skillset to determine if he will be able to find any other type of work. If he will not be able to, the SSA will most likely approve his application.

So you see, the RFC assessment plays an important role in the SSDI approval process. To get a better idea of whether you qualify for SSDI benefits, contact an attorney today. Call Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at 918-582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880. You can also contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.