Your residual functional capacity (RFC) is an evaluation of your remaining abilities to do work-related activities despite your physical or mental impairments. This evaluation occurs if you applied for Social Security Disability benefits but do not meet any of the impairment listings.

RFC Measures Your Remaining Abilities

After reviewing your application to ensure you meet all technical qualifications for disability benefits, the local Pittsburgh Social Security Administration field office will forward your application to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination. There, a disability examiner will obtain and assess your medical records and other evidence to see if you meet an impairment listing in The Blue Book.

If you do not meet the criteria under any applicable impairment listing, they will assess your abilities and give you a residual functional capacity (RFC). If they find you only have a minor impairment and can work, they will deny your claim at this point.  

If you have a severe impairment, you might get approved for benefits.

Understanding How They Evaluate Your RFC

If your level of impairment is not clear, your disability examiner may try to learn more about your abilities by:

  • Asking your doctor to assess your abilities based on your medical records and their knowledge of your case; or
  • Ask you to attend a consultative exam for which they pay a third-party doctor.

The goal of any RFC assessment is to determine:

  • The type of work you can do despite your impairments;
  • How long you can work with your impairments; and
  • How often you can work with your impairments.

Unlike when they look at your impairments and compare them to the criteria in The Blue Book, your RFC evaluation will look at:

  • Any impairments no matter how severe;
  • Symptoms of your condition, including pain;
  • Side effects of your medication; and
  • The time required for treatment and rehabilitation.

Qualifying for Disability Based on Your RFC

If the disability examiner handling your case finds you have a severe impairment, they will give you an RFC. This RFC will determine your ability to work your previous job and any other job for which you might qualify. If your RFC shows you cannot work any of these jobs, you will likely get approved for disability benefits.

It is important to note that if you can work but require accommodations because of your impairments, such as regular breaks or sitting down on a job that normally requires standing, you may still be able to qualify for disability benefits.

Talk to a Pittsburgh-Area Attorney About Your Social Security Disability Case

If you need help preparing your application, filing for disability, or appealing a denial from the Social Security Administration, the lawyers from Berger and Green are here to help. We serve Pittsburgh clients as well as those in greater Allegheny County and elsewhere in Western Pennsylvania and in Columbus, Ohio. Call 412-661-1400 to discuss your disability case with a member of our team at no cost to you.