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While you are working with your disability lawyer in Cleveland on your application for Social Security benefits, at some point in the process you will encounter the Residual Functional Capacity form (RFC). This form is one that details what your residual functional capacity to perform work tasks is after taking into account the limitations posed by your disability. In other words, the form will be used to rate your ability to function at work in the face of your physical or mental health disability.
When you have suffered a disabling condition that prevents you from continuing to work or from seeking work, you can seek the help of a disability attorney in Cleveland to apply for Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, and supplemental security income, or SSI. Upon receiving your benefits application, your case will be assigned to a claims investigator from the agency’s Disability Determination Services, or DDS. In the event you are not working at the time of your application and your medical record documents a disability about which its effects on your ability to work are unclear, the claims investigator will next proceed with having a doctor complete a residual functional capacity form to rate your ability to perform work despite your limitations.
The Social Security Administration has contracts with medical doctors and psychologists who review applicants’ medical records and then rates their functional levels in a wide variety of areas. The doctor or psychologist who receives the form and records depends on whether your claim is based on a physical or mental disability. If your claimed disability is a physical one, the medical doctor will review your medical records and write an opinion about your ability to sit, stand, and walk for various lengths of time at work. If your claimed disability is a mental disability, the DDS psychologist will review your records to write an opinion regarding how your mental health limitations affect your ability to attend to cognitive tasks of a job, such as memory problems, lack of rational thinking, inability to get along with others, and other similar impairments. Upon receiving the DDS doctor or psychologist’s residual functional capacity form, the DDS claims investigator will then issue their decision regarding approval or denial of the application along with their reasons for doing so.
The DDS medical doctor reviews your files for disability applications claiming physical disabilities. The file includes your medical records and application. Often, the doctor will rely on the information contained in the file alone, never meeting with you. Based on the file itself, the doctor will then complete their rating of your ability to complete everyday daily physical tasks. The doctor will rate your ability to carry weight, sit, stand, kneel, and walk. They will also rate you on whether you have any problems with reaching, grasping, carrying, or manipulating small or large objects.
In the mental residual functional capacity form, the DDS psychologist will provide an opinion regarding your ability to perform at a job based on your mental impairments. In order to form their opinions, they will first review your medical record and then will evaluate it and your level of impairment. This includes an evaluation of your mental health symptoms. They may then further provide an evaluation of your ability to do such things as concentrate, get along with others, do simple repetitive tasks, and complete basic activities of daily living. Whether your claim is based on a physical disability or a mental disability, it is important for you to understand that the Social Security Administration often relies on the contracted residual functional capacity doctors and psychologists to recommend denials of claims. These forms are thus often used to deny disability applications. As such, it is a good idea for you to have your own doctors complete residual functional capacity forms for you as well and not simply rely on the forms completed by the DDS doctors or psychologists.
Although your medical records will contain your diagnostic information, they are unlikely to include your resulting impairment levels. Your disability lawyer in Cleveland is likely to recommend that your treating physician complete their own capacity forms. Your treating physician can better help illustrate your limitations, providing a better record for the administrative law judge to consider at your hearing. A personal doctor-prepared RFC form can help you question the vocational expert who will be called to testify at your hearing. If they can refer to your own doctor’s report, they may be more likely to testify that there are not jobs that you would be able to do than if they solely rely on the reports from the contracted doctors who may never have even seen you.
Your treating physician’s opinion is treated with great deference and greater weight than those of the DDS doctors. Because your treating doctor has a history of treating you, their opinion will be given substantial weight when there is a thoroughly completed form that is also supported by your medical record. These forms are better than simply using your medical records, as your medical records probably do not document how your diagnosis affects you in your daily life. Thus, they are often better than the medical records themselves at your hearing.
A disability attorney in Cleveland can help you make certain your medical record is thorough and complete. They can also help you to seek and obtain residual functional capacity forms from your treating physicians in order to help bolster your application and the likelihood of its success. To schedule an appointment with a disability lawyer in Cleveland at the John Paul Oreh Law Office, call us today at (216) 896-0935.