Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

How residual functional capacity affects your SSDI claim

If you are unable to work because of an illness or injury, qualifying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration may be one of your goals. If your disabling condition is on the SSA's list of approved impairments, you may have a good chance of qualifying for financial assistance. Unfortunately, it is not an easy process, and many people are disappointed when the SSA denies their application for benefits.

The SSA has complex and strict criteria for eligibility for disability benefits to prevent fraud that drains funds away from those who truly need assistance. The SSA defines a disability as an injury or illness that prevents you from working to earn money for your survival, among other stipulations. To determine if you fit this definition, SSA agents will consider many factors to calculate your residual functional capacity.

What is residual functional capacity?

Because of your medical condition, you may be unable to accomplish many tasks. What the SSA wants to know is how much of your ability to function remains despite your condition. While you may not be able to do the kind of work you did before your illness or injury, are you able to do any work, even sedentary tasks? If your condition allows you to do some work, even if it is not the same work you did for the past 15 years, the SSA will consider the following:

  • Your age
  • Your work experience
  • Your level of education and training
  • Any skills or abilities that may transfer to a different job
  • The nature, cause and intensity of your pain
  • Any medications you take, their side effects and other concerns
  • Any other treatment you receive for your condition
  • Any symptoms of your condition that may complicate your work abilities, such as fatigue, anxiety, digestive issues or dizziness

As you can see, there are many factors the SSA will examine when determining your level of residual functional capacity. If the SSA decides you are able to work at some level, they will likely deny your claim. To improve your chances, you may wish to contact a New York attorney who is familiar with the Social Security Disability process and who is knowledgeable regarding the frequent changes in SSA laws. Your attorney can guide you through the application process and advocate for you as the SSA evaluates your case.

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