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How Does Social Security Evaluate Physical Functional Capacity?

 Posted on August 14, 2022 in Social Security Disability

Chicago Social Security Disability LawyerIf you have a physical impairment that has made it impossible for you to find or maintain employment, you may be able to receive government benefits to address your disability. These benefits are provided through the Social Security Administration. Social Security disability benefits are based on your inability to work due to your medical condition. In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you must prove that you cannot maintain gainful employment because of your limitations. 

One way that Social Security evaluates whether you are capable of working is through a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. This is an evaluation of what you can still do despite your limitations. The purpose of the residual functional capacity assessment is to determine the level of work you are still able to engage in on a regular and continuing basis. It is important to understand the factors that are considered in an assessment and how the findings of an assessment may affect your Social Security disability case.

Evaluations of Physical Capabilities

An assessment of an applicant's physical abilities may be performed by a doctor or other medical professional. They may review medical records and other documentation, and they may observe the applicant, get information about their symptoms, and discuss reports of the person's daily activities. An assessment will look at the following:

  • Carrying - How much weight can a person lift and carry while working? Can they lift or carry items frequently (around two thirds of the time) or occasionally (less than one third of the time)?
  • Standing and walking - Can the person remain on their feet while working? How many hours can they stand and walk during a normal eight-hour workday (with breaks)? Do they require assistive devices to be able to stand or walk?
  • Sitting - Can the person remain seated while working? How many hours can they sit at a time during an eight-hour workday (with breaks)? Do they need to periodically alternate between sitting and standing to alleviate pain or discomfort?
  • Pushing and pulling - Does the person have any limitations on their ability to push and/or pull items with their hands or feet? Can they operate controls on machinery, equipment, or vehicles? Do they have any limitations affecting their upper or lower extremities?
  • Posture - Does the person have any limitations on their ability to balance, kneel, crouch, bend over, crawl, or climb on ramps, stairs, ladders, or scaffolds? Do these limitations affect the person frequently (around two thirds of the time) or occasionally (around one third of the time)?
  • Manipulation - Does the person have any limitations on their ability to reach in different directions (including over their head), handle objects through gross manipulation, use their fingers to perform fine motor activities, or use their sense of touch?
  • Vision - Does the person have any visual impairments affecting their ability to see items close up or at a distance? Do they have any limitations affecting depth perception, field of vision, or the ability to distinguish between different colors?
  • Communication - Are there any limitations affecting the person's ability to hear or speak?
  • Environment - Does the person need to avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold, moisture and humidity, loud noises, vibrations, or heights? Do they need to avoid concentrated exposure, moderate exposure, or all exposure to these factors?

An assessment may find that an applicant may be able to perform certain types of work, or they may be limited to light or sedentary work. This assessment will be used to determine whether the person can perform work they had done in the past or whether they may be able to work in other jobs that fit their limitations.

Contact an Illinois Social Security Disability Assessment Attorney

The Social Security Administration will take multiple factors into consideration when determining whether you are disabled and making a decision about whether you qualify for disability benefits. Pearson Disability Law, LLC can provide legal help during the application process, and we will help you demonstrate that you meet the requirements to receive financial assistance. To arrange a free consultation, please contact our Chicago Social Security disability application lawyer at 312-999-0999.




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