Residual Functional Capacity

Your medical problems/impairments, and any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your residual functional capacity, or RFC, is the most you can still do despite your limitations. Social Security will assess your RFC based on all the relevant evidence in your case record.

If You Have More Than One Impairment

Social Security will consider all of your medically determinable impairments of which it is aware, including your medically determinable impairments that are not “severe,” when it assesses your residual functional capacity.

Evidence Social Security Uses to Assess Your Residual Functional Capacity

Social Security will assess your residual functional capacity based upon all of the relevant medical and other evidence, such as witness statements and testimonies. In general, you are responsible for providing the evidence Social Security will use to make a finding about your RFC. However, before it makes a determination that you are not disabled, Social Security is responsible for developing your complete medical history, including arranging for consultative examinations (if necessary) and making every reasonable effort to help you get medical reports from your own medical sources.

Social Security will consider any statements about what you can still do that have been provided by medical sources, whether or not they are based on formal medical examinations (such as a functional capacity evaluation). Social Security will also consider descriptions and observations of your limitations from your impairments, including limitations that result from your symptoms (such as pain) provided by you, your family, neighbors, friends, or other persons.

What Social Security Will Consider In Assessing Residual Functional Capacity

When Social Security assesses your residual functional capacity, it will consider your ability to meet the physical, mental, sensory, and other requirements of work, as described here:

  1. Physical Abilities. When Social Security assesses your physical abilities, it first assesses the nature and extent of your physical limitations and then determines your residual functional capacity for work activity on a regular and continuing basis. A limited ability to perform certain physical demands of work activity, such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, or other physical functions (including manipulative or postural functions, such as reaching, handling, stooping or crouching), may reduce your ability to do your past work or even other work.
  2. Mental Abilities. When Social Security assesses your mental abilities, it first assesses the nature and extent of your mental limitations and restrictions and then determines your residual functional capacity for work activity on a regular and continuing basis. A limited ability to carry out certain mental activities, such as limitations in understanding, remembering, and carrying out instructions, and in responding appropriately to supervision, coworkers, and work pressures in a work setting, may reduce your ability to do your past work and other work.
  3. Other Abilities Affected by Impairments. Some medically determinable impairments, such as skin impairments, epilepsy, impairments of vision, hearing or other senses, and impairments which impose environmental restrictions, may cause limitations and restrictions which affect other work-related abilities. If you have any of these types of impairments, Social Security considers any resulting limitations and restrictions which may reduce your ability to do past work and other work in deciding your residual functional capacity.