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SSDRC Disability Blog

Are there some Disability Attorneys who do not gather RFC forms?

Believe it or not, there are some disability claims representatives who do not make the attempt to gather an RFC, or residual functional capacity form, for their client's cases prior to a disability hearing.

I recall visiting a forum in which one of the members was a former ALJ a.k.a. administrative law judge who stated that it was not unusual for some (non-recommended) reps to --

A) show up without having read the claimant's file beforehand.

B) show up without having obtained the necessary updates on medical records.


C) show up without having obtained an RFC form from a claimant's doctor to support the case.

Now, I will state that it isn't always possible to obtain a medical source statement (a.k.a. RFC form) from a claimant's treating physician or psychiatrist. In the process of preparing a case for a disability hearing, I have found myself that, on occasion, it can be next to impossible to obtain one (the reasons why will be addressed in a later post). self-respecting disability lawyer or non-attorney representative will willingly bypass this very effective tool for winning a case...unless they are, for lack of better words, incompetent.

Incompetent is a strong word. But let me explain how powerful an RFC form can be. While medical records will address a claimant's diagnosis and, in a limited sense, the prognosis, an RFC form will provide a disability judge what he or she really needs: a detailed description of a disability claimant's remaining function, and current physical or mental limitations. By comparison, only on rare occasions will a doctor's office notes or a hospital's records (including discharge summaries) ever provide this level of detail regarding functionality. Which is unfortunate, because the SSD program and SSI program rely completely on a claimant's residual function in order to determine --

A) whether or not they can return to their past work


B) whether or not they can perform some type of other work.

RFC forms can, as mentioned, be difficult to obtain from doctors. Many simply do not want to take the 20 minutes required to review a patient's file and then complete a form (which is very often just a check-off form, as is the one that is freely availabe on at the bottom of the homepage).

But, even so, since RFC forms can easily make the difference between losing or winning disability benefits, a disability representative who does not make the attempt to gather one for his or her client's case is certainly providing less-than-optimal representation.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Permanent disability benefits
What are the Application Requirements For SSI Disability?
When should I have doctor complete a statement for my disability case?
Will you need a disability attorney if you have a mental condition?
Disability back pay benefit for the five month waiting period
How to find out if approved for disability?
Social Security Disability hearing decision time
Disability requirements and how to file in Pennsylvania
How do you Apply for SSI?
What Happens When You File an SSI or Social Security Disability Application?
What Conditions Qualify For Social Security Disability?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives