Winning Social Security disability with RFC forms

If you want to win Social Security disability benefits, in my opinion it is essential to get a Residual Functional Capacity statement.

It is the single most important step in a Social Security disability case.

These RFCs go by a lot of different names: Medical Source Statement, Medical Opinion, Narrative. However, Residual Functional Capacity simply means what you can still do despite your disabilities and impairments. Put another way, your RFC is what you can do considering your workplace limitations.

Since Social Security disability cases focus on your ability to work, your RFC is a critical part of your Social Security disability case.

So, how do I develop my workplace limitations and residual functional capacity?

While many lawyers use a custom form (my Colorado law firm uses special forms for our clients which we have fine tuned over the years) Social Security provides two  general workplace limitations forms that anyone can use.

Continue reading Winning Social Security disability with RFC forms

Secrets to winning Social Security disability at age 50 (or above)

If you are 50 years old or older, Social Security makes it easier to prove your disability case. Individuals between 18 and 49 meet a tougher standard discussed in this article.

Starting at age 50, and then again at age 55 and 60, Social Security lowers the requirements for proving disability. The rationale is that the older you are, the harder it is to work in a job that you have never done before.

  • After age 50, Social Security can approve you for disability benefits even though you are able to do some type of work.
  • The older you are, the more physically demanding the work can be and still allow you qualify for disability benefits.

However, this is not a free pass! Do not leave this article before you read the “gotchas” at the bottom. Continue reading Secrets to winning Social Security disability at age 50 (or above)

Playing doctor: SDMs in Social Security disability cases

This one will make you mad! Social Security frequently has single decision makers (SDMs) complete forms describing what an individual can and cannot do in the workplace.

What’s a single decision maker?

  • It’s not a doctor.
  • It’s not a PA.
  • It’s not a nurse.

Give up? A single decision maker is the title given to the Social Security technician who decides if you are disabled. That’s right! A SDM is a bureaucrat!  Continue reading Playing doctor: SDMs in Social Security disability cases

Do you need an FCE in a Social Security case?

stretching multiple images

I was recently asked if you need a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) in a Social Security disability case. No, but it really helps if you can get one.

As I previously wrote, it is vital to get a statement from your doctor about your abilities and limitations in the workplace. This is sometimes called a medical source statement, medical opinion, or a statement of your residual functional capacity.

Normally, this medical opinion is just your doctor’s “best guess” of what you can and cannot do.  I don’t want to put this down. A doctor who knows your condition, and who knows you, can make a very good guess about how the conditions affects you and how it would affect you in the workplace.

However, a functional capacity evaluation objectively tests what you can and cannot do. A typical FCE will take 4 to 6 hours to test what you can do. You will be tired and quite possibly sore after it is done. However, this is often the very best evidence of your abilities and limitations.

Social Security already sent me to a doctor who had me bend and stretch. Is that the same thing? Continue reading Do you need an FCE in a Social Security case?

Social Security hearing tip: Watch out for these questions!

The Social Security Disability Blog got me thinking about some of the questions I have heard Judges ask at hearings.

It is fairly common to be asked the following questions during a Social Security hearing:

  • How long can you sit?
  • How long can you stand?
  • How far can you walk?
  • How much can you carry?

Be careful, your answers might get you into hot water.

People want to answer by telling the Judge the most they can do:

Well, I can walk for about half a mile.

The problem is that the Judge is trying to determine your “residual functional capacity” (RFC): what you can still do despite your impairments in a work like environment. That is, what you are still able to do during an 8 hour day, five days a week (or a similar schedule).

While you may be telling the Judge that you can walk half a mile on a really good day (which only happens once or twice a week), the Judge may think you are saying that you can walk half a mile, several times a day, every day!

Even if an answer does not go completely right, it is not the end of the world. Your attorney can help you walk it back and get the correct information in front of the Judge.

Q: You told the Judge you can walk about half a mile?

A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: Would you be able to walk half a mile several times a day.

A: No.

Q: Would you be able to walk half a mile once a day, every day, Monday through Friday?

A: No, I can maybe walk half a mile on my good days — maybe twice a week.

Q: How far can you walk on your bad days?

A: Maybe from the bedroom to my couch.

Whether you are going to your hearing with an attorney or on your own, keep in mind that the unspoken part of the Judge’s “how long can you…” question, is “on a regular basis, day in and day out.”