How Does Residual Functionality Affect Your Social Security Disability Case?

by Oct 28, 2018General

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Residual functionality refers to the work capacity you retain after developing a disability. Residual functionality affects your Social Security disability case because it can determine whether you qualify for benefits.

To measure your residual functionality, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a tool called a residual functional capacity (RFC) test. A disability examiner will review your medical records and other information provided by your doctor. Once complete, the disability examiner will calculate your functional capacity and try to match it to the jobs you have performed in the past or that you are qualified to do based on your education and experience.

Why Residual Functionality Matters

There are two ways to get approved for Social Security disability. The first, and most straightforward, is to qualify based on a Blue Book listing. The Blue Book is a list of conditions the SSA deems disabling.

However, satisfying a Blue Book listing is fraught with difficulty. Even if you have a valid diagnosis of a listed condition, the criteria are often rigid. Many of them will require certain lab test value ranges, and if you fall outside of one or more of them, you may not qualify.

If you do not meet a Blue Book listing, the other way to receive benefits is to prove that your residual functionality is insufficient to do any job for which you are qualified. This is how most people get approved for Social Security disability.

How the RFC Process Works

Though RFC tests use information collected and provided by your doctor, it is the Social Security disability examiner who evaluates and determines your residual functionality. The disability examiner ultimately decides whether you get approved for benefits

Depending on the condition for which you are seeking benefits, you will undergo either a physical RFC or a mental RFC.

Physical RFC

When you undergo a physical RFC, the disability examiner reviews your medical records and tries to determine the physical tasks you can and cannot perform. They want to identify the job-related duties and daily activities you are capable of undertaking on your own.

Specifically, the disability examiner wants to know how long you can stay on your feet during a workday, how long you can sit at a desk, how much weight you can lift repeatedly, and how much you can lift occasionally. They also look to see if you have issues climbing stairs, bending over, stooping, crouching, or any other activities that some jobs may require.

Mental RFC

A mental RFC measures your ability to concentrate, complete tasks, interact in social settings, take criticism, handle changes in your environment, and forge social connections. It also identifies whether you have mental symptoms that could interfere with your ability to work including memory issues, low energy, impaired cognition, depression, and anxiety.

Whether you undergo a physical or mental RFC, you have the option of getting your doctor to fill out the form and supply all necessary information to the examiner. If you do not have a preferred doctor, the SSA will appoint a doctor from Disability Determination Services (DDS) to complete the form.

How the SSA Uses the RFC Test

Once the disability examiner reviews your RFC test, they compare your results to your job history. They want to know if you have the residual functionality to return to any position of employment you have occupied in the past. If you do, the disability examiner may deny your application.

Even if you cannot return to any previous job, the disability examiner may decide that another job exists for which you are qualified and have the residual functionality. If so, it is possible to receive a denial on these grounds.

For Help With a Social Security Disability Situation, Call the Disability Advantage Group at 865-566-0800

The disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group can help you get approved for Social Security disability. We offer a free case evaluation and are eager to find out how we can help you. To speak with a member of our team, call us at 865-566-0800.