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Residual Functional Capacity: How Does it Impact My Claim?

The disability benefits application process can be difficult and confusing. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will conduct an assessment of your ability to perform certain tasks before it makes a determination of your disability and benefit payments.

The agency does this by conducting a residual functional assessment of what you can continue to do. It will also evaluate whether you are capable of working in some other capacity or in a different field than your previous one. The assessment will be conducted by a disability claims examiner together with a medical expert.

The assessment will focus on whether you can perform different levels of activity. For example, it will evaluate whether your disability allows you to perform sedentary activity that involves a lot of sitting and occasional standing or walking, or if you are capable of light work. Being able to perform light work generally means that you are able to lift up to 20 pounds frequently. You must also be able to stand and walk about frequently.

Similarly, the assessment will consider whether you are capable of medium work, heavy work and very heavy work. While the assessment will focus on whether you can perform exertion-based activities, it will also consider whether you can perform mental tasks like following instructions properly.

The results of your assessment will be used to determine whether you can return to your prior job, or whether you may have to be trained to perform a new job.