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What is residual functional capacity (RFC)?

You believe that your ability to work is limited by your illness, and you're hoping that Social Security Disability Insurance will help. One thing you keep hearing about is residual functional capacity (RFC). What is this and how does it factor into your case?

In essence, RFC is a way to measure what you are still able to do, even with the medical issues and limitations that you're facing. It looks for the "most demanding activity" that you can engage in.

The amount of weight you're able to move is a factor. You'll often see job descriptions saying you have to be able to lift a certain amount of weight -- 50 pounds, for example -- to do the job. Part of RFC is sometimes measured the same way. SSA also considers things like a person's ability to stand, walk, use their hands and feet and more.

As you can imagine, this can play a huge role in how much money you stand to lose. If you worked in road construction or another very physically demanding industry, your RFC may be nowhere near what you need to continue your career. If you worked at a desk, typing reports on a computer, the same physical limitations may not actually diminish your ability to do your job to the same degree.

It is worth noting that non-exertional limitations also factor into RFC, however. It's not all about lifting and carrying. For example, not being able to deal with depression and anxiety could seriously limit your ability to work, no matter how much you can lift. Mental RFC includes the ability to get along with others, understand and follow directions, keep up attention and concentration and more.

Are you wondering how to measure RFC or how to prove what you can and cannot do? Be sure you know how to get started and exactly what legal and medical steps need to be followed.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Conditions that Qualify You for Disability Claims," accessed Aug. 22, 2017

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