What You Should Know About Residual Functional Capacity

What You Should Know About Residual Functional Capacity

If you’re applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the road to actually getting payouts is difficult — the Social Security Administration denies most of the applications it receives, and even the appeals process doesn’t produce many more acceptances. However, one step you can take to improve your chances of being approved is to have your doctor fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form before you submit your application.

RFC measures the remaining ability that you have to work (or complete work-related tasks) after the injury, accident or illness that led to your current disability. When claims examiners are writing up the reasons for their decision to approve or deny a claim, they need to explain exactly why they believe the person filing the claim is still capable of working and does not need disability benefits. As part of this process, they might go to a medical or psychological consultant and have that person fill out the RFC form, which will essentially say whether you’re able to continue working or not.

In order to improve your chances of being approved, take the step of filling out the RFC form out of the claims examiner’s hands and have your doctor complete it instead. There are several benefits to taking this approach — first and foremost that your doctor knows your case better than a consultant that is simply reading over your medical records, and will be able to write up a more thorough and complete assessment of whether you’re still capable of working and of the toll your disability has taken on you.

Furthermore, submitting the form with your Social Security Disability application beforehand instead of leaving it up to the claims examiner to get filled out helps expedite the whole process and make the job of the examiner (or administrative law judge, if it’s used in an appeal) easier.

When filling out the form, you should make sure to give your doctor some advance notice and time to complete the RFC document fully and accurately. Because it takes about an hour to complete, doctors may take a week or two to get it back to you, but if you don’t receive it within that timeframe, politely follow up so that you can can ensure they haven’t lost it or forgotten.