Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates your residual functional capacity (RFC) when determining if you are disabled enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, residual functional capacity is determined by an individual’s ability to gain an income, complete everyday tasks and his/her capacity to function in society. This information is provided by the disability-seeker through the completion of residual functional capacity forms.

The Social Security Administration uses residual functional capacity guidelines to define an individual’s work capability in the following categories: sedentary, light, medium and heavy work.

According to federal guidelines, impairments that may impede an individual’s ability to work include: paralysis, intellectual disabilities, arthritis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, orthopedic impairment, blindness, cerebral palsy and mental disorders. Typically, residual functional capacity is determined not only by certain disabling medical conditions, but also by how a condition affects an individual’s ability to move, stand, walk, hold objects and reach overhead.

In the age group of 18 to 49, the maximum residual functional capacity allowed to receive full Social Security disability benefits is "less than sedentary", while above age 50, qualifications may increase to sedentary, light or medium.

A residential functional capacity form is often completed by a claimants doctor and is reviewed by the SSA to determine if an individual qualifies for disability benefits.

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