One of the most important concepts in evaluating your disability case is your residual functional capacity or RFC.

Sometimes it's referred to as residual functionality.

The code of regulations, for social security purposes, defines your RFC as what you can do despite your limitations.

What does that mean?

Basically, the RFC is an evaluation of your remaining ability to do things, like work, after taking into account all of the limitations your medical conditions cause you.

Think of it as how much can you do and for how long can you do it?

Social Security looks at your medical condition and how it affects your ability to exert yourself physically for work-related tasks.

Your RFC encompasses your mental faculties as well, and those are things like can you maintain concentration and attention for extended periods of time?

So one way I like to describe it is by using an example, and that's, we take someone who has chronic back pain.

They take narcotic pain medication for their treatment.

They either have had surgery or recommended to have surgery so we know from a neurological perspective or an orthopedic perspective that they have some limitations on their physical capabilities.

Their doctor tells them they can only lift 10 pounds occasionally, or 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds at most.

So that would be a part of their residual functional capacity.

What they can still do, so they can still lift 20 pounds, they can still lift 10 pounds occasionally.

If this person's taking medication, pain medication, for example, when the medication causes side effects like it makes them drowsy or tired, they may, as part of their residual functional capacity, need the ability to take frequent rest periods throughout the day where they may have to lay down or take a break.

Knowing these limitations, what can you do?

There are a number of other factors that should go into your residual functional capacity determination, but these are not always clearly explained in your medical records.

When these other factors are not clearly explained, social security often finds that you can perform these tasks.

Perform in ways that your medical records do not limit you.

Some factors that you should always try to get considered by your doctors are the ability to twist, bend, stoop, reach, grasp, handle, finger, kneel, crawl, climb.

Additionally, you want to have non-exertional factors talked about in your medical records if you can, because those often are very important in your residual functional capacity.

These are things like your ability to follow directions, maintain concentration, show up and do the work at a normal rate, persist throughout the day, throughout a workweek, your ability to get along with your coworkers, and your reliability.

Your overall residual functional capacity, at the end of the day, is what you can still do.

You're not in a persistent vegetative state. You have some ability to do things.

The residual functional capacity seeks to define what that is.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Accident, injury, and disability attorney serving Luling, Metairie, New Orleans, and South Louisiana