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Residual Functional Capacity & RFC Forms

The Residual Functional Capacity form, or RFC, is one of the most powerful tools to assist in a Favorable Decision. It is a simple form for your doctor to complete, containing questions about specific limitations related to your disability (or disabilities). The questions are directly related to Social Security’s listings, or guidelines for approval. The type of RFC form you need depends on your specific disability. For mental evaluations, Social Security prefers the Mental Capacity Assessment (also called Residual Functional Capacity Questionnaire-Mental).

The answers are much more helpful than medical records are for telling Social Security how you would handle a typical workday. For example, a claimant with lower back problems has difficulty keeping a job because the pain requires him to lie down often. If his medical records mention that he needs to rest once and awhile, it may help his disability claim a bit. But if he has an RFC from his doctor stating that he needs to lie down every 30 minutes for a duration of 10 minutes, or that he needs to stand up and walk around after sitting for 15 minutes at a time, that gives Social Security a much better idea of the situation. The doctor may also write on the RFC that the patient would probably miss three or more workdays each month. These types of questions directly address Social Security’s listings and usually result in a favorable decision.

The strongest factor in your disability claim will be your doctor. If your doctor is supportive of your applying for benefits and willing to submit RFC forms and any other documentation needed, you have a great chance of being approved. If not, you may need to find another doctor who will provide Social Security with the information they need. If a Registered Nurse (RN) or Physician’s Assistant (PA) or other unauthorized person completes the form, it will probably not be accepted.

Although Social Security does use RFC forms, they are mostly utilized by disability attorneys. If you do not have a disability representative, you can get a copy of an RFC from Social Security to give to your doctor. For many reasons, it is usually much more effective for you, as the patient, to ask your doctor to complete the form than for Social Security or even your disability attorney to do so. However, remember that if your doctor is not supportive or does not believe you are disabled, his or her answers may not help much and may even hurt your claim.

For more information on RFC forms, contact your disability representative or Social Security.

Author – Brad Myler