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How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Using an RFC form to qualify for disability at a hearing



 
RFC stands for something known as residual functional capacity and the term basically refers to what level of functionality a person possesses. When a person files for disability, the disability examiner who handles the case will have the task of determining what their RFC is. This is basically where the decision on the case gets made because the RFC assessment will determine A) whether or not the applicant can return to to their past work and B) whether or not the applicant can perform some type of other work.

An RFC assessment is made by reading an applicant's medical records and then ascertaining both what the person is no longer capable of doing and, at the same time, what they are still capable of doing. For example, an RFC assessment will address a person's ability to lift a certain amount of weight, their ability to use their hands, their ability to stoop or to crouch. It can also address non-physical functional considerations such as the ability to concentrate, persist, learn, and remember. Not surprisingly, RFC assessments of what a person can and can no longer do are made on something called an RFC form.

However, what may be surprising to anyone who has never worked inside the disability system (I'm a former disability examiner myself) is that social security never sends an RFC form to an applicant's own doctor. Instead, they have one of their own doctors---referred to as a medical consultant and assigned to a case processing unit with disability examiners---complete the RFC (which may, depending on the nature of the impairment, be a mental RFC or a physical RFC).

While this may seem reasonable to some, consider the following facts:

1. Social Security doctors, i.e. medical consultants who work alongside disability examiners, work for social security. This is a redundant statement, but the purpose is to drive home a point. These doctors are not necessarily objective.

2. A social security doctor has never met nor treated the disability applicant that he or she will complete an RFC form on.

3. The vast majority of all disability applications---and social security doctors are involved in these cases---are denied.

Now, consider this---wouldn't it make more sense for social security to send an RFC to the claimant's own doctor, particularly since this doctor has actually seen and treated the claimant? It certainly would. It might also mean that more claims would be approved.

At the hearing level, of course, where the decision-maker is a disability judge and the claimant is often represented, a good disability attorney will have obtained a completed a RFC form from the claimant's doctor or doctors. And very often an RFC form at this level will have the notable effect of winning the case. Simply because disability judges respect the opinions of treating physicians and a claimant's treating physician is not in the employment of the social security administration.

RFC forms tend to produce the best benefit at the hearing level. However, in certain cases, they can definitely improve one's chances of winning disability benefits at the disability application level.








Essential Questions

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Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Social Security Disability attorneys and representatives
What is the status of your Social Security Disability or SSI case
Rules and requirements to apply for disability
Will I qualify for disability?
Apply for disability for any medical condition
Steps and Tips for requesting a disability hearing
If your disability claim is approved or denied
Social Security Award letter for SSD, SSI
Temporary Social Security Disability SSI
Social Security Disability SSI reviews
How social security evaluates attention deficit
Filing for disability with Post polio syndrome
Tips for Getting Disability Approved
How far back Social Security will pay SSDI or SSI
SSI award notices are received by approved claimants
Winning and getting disability with a mental condition
Getting disability for rheumatoid arthritis
Can you work if you get Disability?
Who qualifies for SSI and how
How to file for disability and where to apply
Conditions that may qualify as disability
Denied on a disability application
Answering questions at a Social Security Disability hearing








For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.