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Home » Glossary » Physical Residual Functional Capacity

Definition of Physical Residual Functional Capacity

To win disability benefits disability applicants must prove they do not have the residual functional capacity to work. The physical residual functional capacity of a disability applicant is the residual physical ability they have to perform work functions. This ability is most frequently assessed by a consultative examiner at a consultative examination. Consultative examiners will complete a physical residual functional capacity form and return it to the SSA for review.

The physical residual functional capacity form (RFC) has specific sections to document the claimant's exertional limitations, which includes their ability to lift, carry, walk, stand, sit, push or pull; postural limitations, which can include the claimant's ability to climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; manipulative limitations, which include the claimant's ability to reach overhead, to perform gross manipulations, and to perform fine manipulations. The claimant's visual limitations are also reviewed which includes their ability to see near and far acuity, their depth perception, their color vision and their field of vision. It also includes their communication limitations to hear and speak, and their environmental limitations to work in heat or cold, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, fumes, odors, dust and poor ventilation.

The consultative examiner does not make a disability determination; they simply send their findings to the SSA who then makes the disability decision.

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