Social security card along with 100 dollar bills.
Folder with claims lable on desk

Anyone that is applying for social security disability payments is going to be evaluated by a claims examiner at the DDS (Disability Determination Services). The evaluation performed by the claims examiner will include a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment that is performed by a medical or psychological consultant at the DDS. This RFC assessment helps the claims examiner figure out whether or not to approve or deny the claim.

A Breakdown of the RFC Assessment

The DDS physician will rate the residual functional capacity of the person filing the claim based on that individual’s medical evidence. There are two types of RFC assessments – physical and mental.

  • Physical – A physical RFC assessment is based on the physical ability that an individual has to perform normal day-to-day activities. For example, the ability to walk, crouch or stand for certain periods of time. Some of the other factors that will be considered include how well the individual can manipulate, grasp and reach over head as well as how much the individual can lift.
  • Mental – A mental RFC assessment will be performed by either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Mental symptoms, such as illogical thinking and poor memory, are taken into consideration, as are the individual’s ability to focus and concentrate, their ability to interact in a social setting and their ability to engage in simple, routine and repetitive tasks.

Submitting an RFC Assessment by a Treating Doctor

The DDS will use medical records to determine whether the application is approved or declined. However, the claim stands a better chance if it is submitted with an RFC assessment provided by their personal doctor.The Social Security Administration gives greater weight to a treating doctor’s assessment because the physician examines the patient and more accurate, metrics-based determination of disability.

An RFC completed by a treating doctor is always preferable, no matter how favorable the medical evidence is to the applicant. Medical information can often be interpreted in different ways, which means that having an RFC completed out by a personal doctor will provide a more clear conclusion as to the disability of the applicant.

Residual functional capacity assessments play an important part in determining whether a social security disability claim is approved. Social security claims are difficult to win without the necessary evidence. A physician-prepared residual functional assessment will greatly strengthen any social security disability claim.