Understanding How RFC Affects Your Social Security Claim

Those trying to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits often end up perplexed by the unfamiliar terms used by the Social Security Administration (SSA). One of the most confusing aspects of being approved concerns your ability to do certain levels of job tasks. To help claimants better understand what is meant by the term residual functional capacity (RFC) and what it might mean for your claim, read on.

Work You Can Still Do

You might be concerned about the things you can no longer do because of your medical condition but the SSA looks at things a bit differently. They determine your ability to receive benefits using a system of grading how much you can do. For claimants, that means how much work you can and cannot do from your previous job. For example, if you were an assembly line worker and have a wrist injury, you know you can no longer do that type of work anymore. The SSA uses RFC levels to evaluate that using a scale from very heavy to sedentary.

RFC Levels

Using your medical records and common job tasks from your previous job, the SSA uses the below scale to pinpoint where your particular disability status may be:

  1. Very heavy means you can lift at least 100 pounds.
  2. Heavy means you can lift 100 pounds and carry at least 50 pounds while walking.
  3. Medium means you can lift 50 pounds and carry at least 25 pounds.
  4. Light means you can lift 20 pounds and can carry at least 10 pounds
  5. Sedentary means you can lift up to 10 pounds and can carry only very lightweight items. At the sedentary level, you should also be able to work while seated, standing, and walking occasionally.

Tasks You Can Still Do at Other Jobs

You should know that, depending on your case, your RFC determination could cover other jobs available to you in your area. The SSA often turns down claimants even when they cannot perform their previous job functions but are judged to be able to work at other jobs. However, you can fight this assertion using a Social Security lawyer at the appeal hearing. Your lawyer will argue with the hearing officer and the vocational expert to prove that your disability makes it impossible to work at any job or that the alternate jobs suggested are not appropriate in your case.

Regardless of the reason for the denial of benefits, don't get discouraged. With the help of a Social Security Disability lawyer, you may get your benefits approved.