Residual Functional Capacity


“Hi, my name is Andrew Kinney, and I practice Social Security disability law at Hoglund law offices. Today I wanted to talk about residual functional capacity, code word RFC. Now, this word is very important in social security disability claims. For clients we help, and we help a lot of them, we try to prove that they have a medical problem that keeps them from working fulltime.

How does RFC or residual functional capacity come into play? Well, I will explain it by an example: if you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and at that point you have a confirming MRI with white matter shown, at that point you might think that I should stop working and apply for social security benefits. One of the first questions we might ask is: what functional limitations do you have from MS. For instance, what symptoms do you have? Maybe you aren’t coordinated or are extremely fatigued. What I’m getting at is this: it’s not just a diagnosis that can establish that you are disabled. You need a medical diagnosis established by a doctor, but you also need restrictions, limitations from that diagnosis, symptoms.

Another example might be AIDS. If you have AIDS, it is a disease that we luckily have medication for, and there is another video on that particular topic. If you have problems with AIDS, let’s say chronic infections, that’s what social security uses to evaluate whether you are disabled, not just confirming laboratory work, but how you are limited day to day. Do you have encephalopathy? Do you have chronic sinusitis or any other chronic infections that perhaps lead to hospitalization?

So, if you can get the point of today, social security looks at your ability to function in addition to what is wrong with you. They have to consider everything together. Your residual function capacity is physical and mental limitations pooled together. If you have chronic low back problems and you have depression, both of those affect you differently, but your ability to function on a physical and mental level are impacted. Those both have to be considered in the residual functional capacity.

The goal of social security is to decide: could you work a fulltime job? We try to argue that the residual functional capacity does not allow you to work a fulltime job. If you have more questions about residual functional capacity or just questions about social security in general, please feel free to call our office at 1-800-850-7867. You can also go to our website at And finally, like I mentioned, we have different videos on different subjects, sometimes that is a little bit easier to read than our disability library, but however you want to learn it, we want to help you. Thank you.”