What is an RFC Form

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment

The medical consultant will use your functional restrictions or limitations to rate your ability to work. To do this, the consultant will use a Residual Functional Capacity test and form to document the residual functional capacity at which you can function or work and apply a level of capacity for you.

RFC Levels:  Light  – Medium – Heavy

The RFC level determines whether you can do sedentary work, light work, medium work, or heavy work. For instance, if your doctor has limited your standing and walking to no more than five hours per day, your RFC will be for sedentary work. If your doctor has limited you to no lifting more than 20 pounds, but doesn’t limit your standing or walking, your RFC will be for light work. If you can carry up to 50 pounds for up to one-third of the day, and up to 25 pounds for up to two-thirds of a day, your RFC will be for medium work. For more information, see our article on the RFC assessment.

Do You Qualify for a Medical-Vocational Allowance?

Using your RFC, the DDS claims examiner will look to see if you can do any jobs that you’ve done in the past 15 years (“past relevant work”). For instance, if you are assigned an RFC for light or medium work and you have always done heavy work, the consultant will find that you can’t go back to your past work.

If you can’t return to one of your prior relevant jobs, the clams examiner will look to see whether, given your RFC, along with your age, education, and skills, there is any less demanding work you can do or easily learn to do. For example, if you were given an RFC for light work, it’s likely the SSA will find that there are many sedentary and light jobs you can do. However, there are some cases in which the consultant isn’t allowed to “send” you to other work. This is mostly true for workers above age 55, and sometimes age 50.

Age 55 Plus and Sedentary Work Capacity

If you can do only sedentary work (per your RFC), but you are 55 or older, did not complete high school, and worked heavy jobs all your life, the grid rules indicate that you are disabled and should be approved for benefits through a medical-vocational allowance.

Age 55 Plus and Light Work Ability

If you are older than 55, have an RFC for light work, and don’t have transferable skills, the SSA doesn’t expect you to be able to learn a new job, and you should be granted disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. In most other cases, if you can do light work, the SSA will presume that you can learn a new job.

Age 50 to 54 and Sedentary Work Capacity

If you are age 50-54 and limited to sedentary work, and you have transferable job skills or a recent education that trained you for some type of sit-down work, you will be expected to learn a new type of work. But if you don’t have any recent training or job skills that could be transferred to a desk job, you’ll be found disabled.

Age 50 and Under with Light or Sedentary Work Capacity

If you are less than 50 years old and have an RFC for light work or sedentary work, the grid rules say you are not disabled, regardless of whether you have an education or transferable job skills.