Social Security and Residual Functional Capacity
When reviewing a social security application, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, by and through her employees, uses a five step process to determine whether an individual is disabled. The last step in the process seeks to determine the claimants residual functional capacity and then determine whether that person can do any work. The Social Security Administration is concerned whether the applicant can still perform the job they used to perform. If the applicant can perform the physical requirements of their former work, then they will not be found disabled. Not surprisingly, applicants generally are not capable of performing their past job. This does not mean, however, that the applicant is disabled. The Social Security Administration will have to decide whether there is any other work the applicant can perform. If not, the applicant will be found to be disabled. If so, the applicant will be found not to be disabled.
A person’s residual functional capacity is what the applicant’s body can still do despite the medical disabilities an applicant can prove. The administration looks at the applicant’s medical records and decides what medical problems exist and what limitations those problems cause. Next the administration determines the applicant’s residual function. The Administration looks at how much a person can lift, both occasionally and frequently, how long they can stand, how long they can sit, can they kneel, squat, crawl, bend at the waist, climb stairs, climb ladders, climb ropes, reach over head, manipulate small objects, stay on task and other physical and psychological activities.
Once the Social Security Administration determines the applicant’s RFC, they next look at whether that allows them to do Sedentary work, light work, medium work or heavy work. Generally in order to be considered disabled, the applicant must not be able to complete the full range of sedentary work. Sedentary work is work that requires a person to lift up to 10 pounds, walk or stand for up to 2 hours in an 8 hour day, to be able to sit for up to six hours in an 8 hour day, and to be able to communicate in English.
If you are an applicant and have questions about any issue involving Social Security, please give us a call.