If you have applied for Social Security disability, you may already know that your case is decided on your ability to do work. Work can defined as either the same work you have done in the past or any work at all. For example, if you can no longer drive a forklift due to a foot injury, could you now sit at a desk and use a computer to work? The Social Security agency uses a form and process to determine your level of work functioning, called residual functional capacity. Read on to find how how this process applies to your disability case.
How is your RFC determined?
Sedentary: At this level you are mostly able to do work while seated. You must be able to stand and walk at times, but not constantly. You should be capable of lifting anything under 10 pounds, such as files or small tools.
Light: At this level you must be able to lift up to 20 pounds and to frequently carry up to 10 pounds. You should be relatively mobile at this level, and able to stand and walk frequently. Use of arms and hands is required at this level. You are also capable at this level of sedentary work.
Medium: At this level of capacity, you should be capable of lifting up to 50 pounds and be able to frequently carry up to 25 pounds. You are also capable at this level of doing light and sedentary work.
Heavy: This level of capacity means you should be able to lift 100 pounds and to lift and carry up to 50 pounds at a time. You are also capable at this level of doing medium, light and sedentary work.
Very Heavy: At this level you should be able to lift objects of over 100 pounds. You are also capable at this level of doing heavy, medium, light and sedentary work.
How the RFC is used
The determination for benefits uses your work history to evaluate if you are able to continue doing the same jobs you have done in the past. First, your job history is assigned a level of functioning similar to the above levels. If you are determined to be capable of performing at the same level that your past job was determined to be, you will not receive benefits. There are a few other factors taken into account in this determination however, such as:
- You must be capable of doing this work full time, be able to attend your regularly scheduled shifts without excess absences and not need extra breaks.
- If you have mental or emotional issues either related to your previous work or as a result a previous work injury or illness, a separate mental illness RFC will be performed and considered in the final determination.
As you can see, disability benefits are complicated and confusing. Contact a disability attorney (like those at Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law) as soon as possible to get some help with this process and to successfully get the benefits you are entitled to.