• Justin S. Raines

What is a disability claimant’s physical residual functional capacity?


Whether you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSD, SSDI, or DIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), if your severe physical or mental impairments do not meet or equal a listing at step three of the five-step sequential analysis, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).


Your RFC is the most that you can do on a regular and continuing basis. A regular and continuing basis means eight hours a day, forty-hours a week, or an equivalent work schedule.


A physical RFC can have both exertional and nonexertional limitations. Likewise, an RFC can contain both physical and mental limitations.


The SSA has outlined many of the physical limitations that may occur in a Social Security disability case in Form SSA-4734-BK. These include strength-based limitations, like lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, standing, sitting, and walking, and other, non-exertional limitations, like seeing and hearing.


A disability claimant’s physical RFC includes postural limitations, like climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling crouching, and crawling, and manipulative limitations, like reaching, handling, fingering, and feeling.


Visual limitations include problems with near-acuity, far-acuity, depth perception, accommodation, color vision, and field of vision.


A disability claimant’s physical RFC also includes communicative limitations, like problems seeing and hearing.


Finally, a disability claimant’s physical RFC includes environmental limitations. Environmental limitations are limitations that restrict the work settings where a claimant can function. These include limitations to working around extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, and hazards like moving machinery.


If you have a severe physical or mental illness or injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability for help and advice proving your case.

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