What Is Residual Functional Capacity And Why It Matters To The SSA

Posted on: 15 July 2020


When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it's likely that applicants will have to become familiar with certain terms that pertain to their cases. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a lot of confusing language and acronyms to describe the application and approval process and applicants should have at least a general understanding of what they mean. One of those terms is residual functional capacity (RFC), and it is a very important aspect of your effort to get benefits. If you have been unable to work at your job and need to apply for SSDI, read below to find out more about RFC.

How RFC Determinations Work

When you apply for SSDI, you are evaluated based not on what you cannot do but what you may be able to do given your disability. The term RFC refers to the ability to perform work tasks even if you are suffering from an affliction. That means each applicant will be evaluated and rated based on the below RFC scale.

  • Very Heavy – Capable of lifting 100 lbs. or more.
  • Heavy – Capable of lifting at least 100 lbs. and carrying at least 50 lbs.
  • Medium – Capable of lifting at least 50 lbs. and carrying at least 25 lbs.
  • Light – Capable of lifting at least 20 lbs. and of carrying at least 10 lbs.
  • Sedentary – Capable of lifting at least 10 lbs. and of carrying lightweight items like paperwork or small tools. At this, the lowest RFC level, you also must be able to work while at a seated position along with standing and walking occasionally.

What Else to Know About RFC Determinations

Those who are applying for benefits because of a mental health issue don't have to undergo the above described RFC determination. However, there is a separate determination process for those applicants and that determination also uses the ability to perform work tasks.

If you are determined to be capable of performing any type of work, the work has to be available in your local area and appropriate for your experience and education.

You should be able to perform at a job based on full-time work with no extra breaks.

If your RFC determination left you with a denial, you will get a chance to challenge those results at an appeal hearing. Speak to a Social Security lawyer in your area like Todd East Attorney at Law about your case and be supported when you make your appeal.