July 28, 2009

Obtaining Disability Benefits with a Completed Residual Functual Capacity Assessment

A Social Security disability claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is the most that he/she may do despite their limitations.  The RFC Assessment is a form completed by a health care provider that states a claimant’s limitations caused by the impairment(s) that affect the claimant in a work setting.  This form can be very beneficial in obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. 

When a claimant submits their initial disability application, the claim is reviewed by a Social Security Administration’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) Examiner.  Before the examiner can make the final decision, the examiner must submit the claim to the Social Security Administration’s medical or psychological physicians to complete the RFC form.  The doctors will review the claimant’s medical records and rate the claimant’s RFC physical and mental RFC based on these records.  Often times, RFC forms completed by the SSA’s doctors are rarely of any benefit to claimant because typically they are used to support denials more often than approvals. 

hand writing.JPGWhile the SSA may have one of their health care providers complete a RFC, it is important that individuals attempting to get disability benefits have their own medical professional complete a RFC.  Your own treating physician usually has more insight to the patient’s medical history, diagnosis, and limitations.  Indianapolis Attorney Scott D. Lewis finds a completed Residual Functional Capacity Assessment can be very helpful when appearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Appearing in front of an ALJ can allows time for the claimant to get a completed RFC assessment from a doctor that has personally treated the claimant. The treating physician has a relationship history with the claimant and has provided medical care for the claimant which allows the treating doctor to have the knowledge of a claimant’s medical condition.  As long as the treating physician’s opinions are consistent with the medical records and are documented properly, the SSA should consider the treating physician’s opinion in determining disability. 

It is important for claimants to understand the importance of an ongoing medical relationship with a competent medical professional.  More importantly, having a RFC form completed by your treating physician may be essential in winning your claim.  Don’t be convinced that your medical records will be enough to support your case.  Have your doctor(s) complete the RFC form to support your disability claim. 

If you are interested in knowing more about Residual Functual Capacity Assessments, contact Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer Scott D. Lewis for a free consultation at (317) 423-8888.

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