Understanding RFC or Residual Functional Capacity.


Courthouse columnsWe've been posting a lot about different disabilities and getting benefits for those disabilities and with most conditions, Social Security will determine your Residual Functional Capacity, or RFC. So what is that exactly? Well, before the Social Security Administration will grant a claim for disability benefits, the disability claims examiner and an administrative law judge will examine doctors’ notes on what a disability claimant is capable of doing. The examiner and judge will make a residual functional capacity assessment from the medical records they receive. In order to make such a determination, they will examine the following:

  • How much a claimant can lift, on a frequent and on an occasional basis. If a claimant can lift 10 pounds frequently and 25 pounds occasionally, that would receive a "light RFC;" the ability to lift 25 pounds frequently and 50 pounds would earn a "medium RFC.
  • How long a claimant can sit or stand. This will have an impact on the types of jobs they will be considered capable or incapable of doing based on sitting and standing times.
  • How well a patient can reach forward and overhead. Degenerative disc disease or arthritis in the upper extremities would affect the ability to perform overhead reaching or reaching one's arms to shoulder level might be significantly impaired.
  • How well a claimant can crouch, stoop, or bend. A patient with a back injury may have limitations on the using the large muscle groups in the legs to crouch, stoop, or bend.
  • How well a claimant perform fine motor skills with the hands and fingers. Arthritis and disorders like Parkinson’s Disease can affect the ability to use the hands.
  • How well a patent can hear and see. Impairments could make operating hazardous machinery prohibitive. And many jobs use the telephone or computer, and require good hearing and vision. 

Getting Legal Help

If you or a loved one needs to pursue a disability claim or wishes to discuss claim eligibility, give Disability Professionals a call at 855-201-9569 or email DisabilityProfessionals to set up your appointment today.

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