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Residual Functional Capacity – How This Affects Your Social Security Disability Claim

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If you have recently been in an accident or faced a severe medical diagnosis that will put you out of work for the foreseeable future, you may be wondering how you will be able to support yourself. The transition from being able-bodied to having a mental or physical disability can be difficult, and it is important to get the social support that you are entitled to.

Social Security Disability payments are one such lifeline of support that individuals can turn to in these situations. To ensure that you are optimizing your chances of receiving your SSD payments and that you are receiving all the money you are entitled to, it’s important to stay up to date on the protocol for SSD payment applications and the associated concepts, such as residual functional capacity.

Residual Functional Capacity - How this Effects your Social Security Disability Claim

Understanding the Basics: What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, payments were set up by the federal Social Security Agency (SSA) to support individuals who are severely disabled and, therefore, no longer able to work. To qualify for SSDI payments, an individual must have a disability that will persist for a minimum of one year or eventually lead to death.

An additional requirement for receiving SSDI payment is that a severely disabled individual must also have worked enough years and earned enough money before becoming disabled. The individual applying for SSDI payments must also not be receiving substantial income, which will be calculated each year by the SSA. When an individual goes over this earning threshold, they will likely lose their SSDI payments.

What Is Residual Functional Capacity?

Residual functional capacity, or RFC, is an idea used by the SSA to evaluate whether a person can work or perform activities needed to get a job, even though they are living with a mental or physical disability. It is one of the essential considerations that the SSA takes into account when determining whether a person is eligible for SSDI payments.

The purpose of RFC is to see how much an individual can still work and earn an income, even though they have particular mental and/or physical disabilities. RFC will consider all the physical and mental difficulties that a person may have and determine how this will impact their ability to carry out work-related tasks.

The ability to perform physical tasks will be evaluated, such as:

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Walking
  • Carrying items
  • Lifting objects
  • Pushing
  • Pulling

The SSA will also evaluate mental tasks, such as:

  • Remembering
  • Concentrating
  • Speaking with coworkers
  • Performing arithmetic

Who Performs RFC Assessments and Why?

The individuals who are performing RFC assessments are medical providers or professionals. The evaluator will complete an individual’s assessment by considering medical information, such as checkups and examinations, clinical diagnoses, and other medical records, in their analysis. Overall, they are looking to understand what an individual could potentially be able to do if they were placed in a work environment.

After completing the RFC assessment, the evaluator(s) will need to determine whether the individual is able to carry out substantial gainful activity. If their ability to carry out tasks that can earn them money is hindered by their disability, causing them to lose access to a meaningful income, they will possibly be able to receive SSDI payments.

What Role Does RFC Have in Disability Claims?

In the disability claims process, evaluating RFC is critical. Because this process will determine whether a person can carry out substantial gainful activity, it will ultimately decide whether they should be eligible to receive financial support from the government in the form of SSDI payments. These assessment outcomes can vary with time as requirements from the SSA change and the disability gets better or worse.

If you are unsure about certain aspects of the disability claims process and how you can navigate it to optimize the outcome of your case, then it is advisable to get in touch with a Social Security disability lawyer. Such a lawyer can help inform you of your rights, help you understand the benefits you are entitled to, and walk you through the bureaucratic processes.


Q: What If My Application for Social Security Disability Was Rejected?

A: If your SSDI application was rejected, you have the right to appeal within a limited time period, which is 60 days from learning about your decision. During the appeals process, you will need to participate in a hearing in which a judge will hear your case. The judge will issue a response to your appeal within 45 to 90 days of the hearing.

Q: What Disability Is Most Commonly Approved?

A: Arthritis is one of the most commonly approved disabilities by the SSA because it is one of the most common disabilities in the United States. Other musculoskeletal illnesses, such as tremors, are commonly approved as well. It’s important to speak with a lawyer to determine your eligibility for SSDI payments.

Q: In What Case Could I Lose My SSDI Payments?

A: If you have a severe medical condition that improves to the point where it is no longer debilitating, and you are now able to engage in work, then you can lose access to your SSDI benefits. In addition to better health conditions, you can start to lose payments (or parts of payments) if you are earning above a certain amount.

Q: How Long Is the Process for Applying for SSDI Payments?

A: The time it takes in total to hear back from the SSA regarding your SSDI decision is about a few months. However, this time can vary based on how busy the agency is with evaluating applications. To have a better idea about the timeline of your SSDI benefits application, it is advisable to work with a lawyer.

Find Out More About Securing Long-Term Disability Benefits

If you are still feeling confused and overwhelmed by the federal bureaucratic processes required to obtain SSDI payments, call our firm. Speaking with an SSD lawyer who has experience in Social Security benefits can ensure a much smoother process. Gade & Parekh, LLP, is here to answer any questions or concerns that you may have regarding Social Security. Get in touch with a member of our legal team today to discuss your case.

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