What is Residual Functional Capacity?

Disability Help Center San DiegoIf you are applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it will be handled by their Disability Determination Services (DDS) branch. A DDS examiner will be assigned to evaluate your application and determine if you meet the qualifications for being disabled under the law.

In most cases, the DDS examiner will be able to make the determination based on the information that you provide. However, in some cases additional information may be needed, so the DDS examiner may ask for a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form to be filled out.

At the Disability Help Center San Diego, we are here to help you understand all aspects of applying for disability benefits from the SSA. Our phone number is (619) 282-1761 or you can visit our offices at 1833 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101. Our friendly, courteous staff will explain what Residual Functional Capacity means along with all other terms used by DDS, so you can fully understand the process.


What is an RFC Form?

RFC FormThis is a form that will be filled out by you at the request of the DDS examiner, physician, or by a psychiatrist that has reviewed the information you provided in your application. The residual functional capacity will be rated by the physician and determine how it affects your ability to hold gainful employment. The following criteria will be applied when filling out the RFC form for a physical disability

  • Stand
  • Sit
  • Walk
  • Overall Mobility

For a mental disability, the following criteria will be used;

  • Memory
  • Rational Thinking Problems
  • Overall Cognitive Abilities

Keep in mind that you may have an RFC form filled out by your physician which can be included in your application. By including the form, it will also provide the records of your symptoms, the pain you feel, and other applicable notations which apply to your current condition.
Plus, the information provided does not directly apply to your ability to work and hold gainful employment. It is rather an evaluation of your capabilities and from that the determination can be made if you can return to your previous employment or seek new employment based on your current physical or mental capacity.
If you are applying for disability benefits, it pays to have your doctor fill out an RFC form during the physical examination. This is because they have the best knowledge of your condition and how it applies to your life better than any other doctor appointed to do the same by the DDS. Therefore, it is recommended that you have the form filled out before submitting your initial application and have it contained within your claim upon submission.
Keep in mind that the RFC form is rather long and cannot be filled out by a doctor in just a few minutes. Allow a couple of weeks for your doctor to complete filling out the form and call if there is a delay.

How the Disability Help Center San Diego Can Help

Questions we can helpFor those who are applying for Social Security disability benefits, understanding that an RFC form is an important part of the process may escape you unless you have the knowledgeable, experienced team of professionals at the Disability Help Center Sand Diego. Our friendly, courteous staff is here to explain our services, answer your questions, and provide representation so your claim can be properly filled out.

You can come by our offices at 1833 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 or give us a call at (619) 282-1761. We will explain what an RFC form means and all other aspects of applying for disability benefits from Social Security.

Residual Functional Capacity

RFC form A Residual Functional Capacity Form (RFC) assesses the most amount of work that you can do despite the limitations from your disability.

This RFC form will be filled out at the request of the DDS examiner by a DDS physician or psychiatrist who reviews the medical evidence in your file to gather information. The DDS physician will rate the residual functional capacity after taking into account the medical condition and how it affects the person’s ability to work. The form will make reference to how long a person can sit, stand, walk, etc. Or, in the case of a mental claim, how the person would handle a work environment if they have a poor memory, rational thinking problems, etc.

You may ask your own treating physician(s) to complete an RFC form which can be included with your application. Your medical records are written to keep a record of what your symptoms are at a given time and describe your pain. They are not written in a way that would note your ability to work or your prognosis for returning to work, but this is the information that the DDS physician must use to complete your RFC form. Your own doctor knows you and can shed the best light on how your condition will affect your return to work. An RFC form completed by your doctor can be much more beneficial to you than a form completed by a DDS examiner physician.

If you do choose to ask your doctor to complete an RFC form, you should do it early in your application process. Let your doctor know that you intend to apply for disability and that you would like him/her to complete the form. The RFC form is long, so don’t expect your doctor to quickly fill it out and hand it back to you. If your doctor does not return the form within a few weeks, politely follow up to see if it has been finished.