The goal of any disability adjudication is to determine what the claimant's maximum remaining ability is. Social Security calls this functional assessment the “residual functional capacity.” Every Social Security disability claimant will have their residual functional capacity assessed as part of their disability claim. All conditions both physical and mental are considered when determining the residual functional capacity. A claimant who does not have the residual functional capacity to do any work for which they are eligible is legally disabled. The residual functional capacity determination is the most important factor is determining the outcome of the case.
Every Social Security hearing decision will give a claimant the residual functional capacity to preform work at a certain exertional level. These levels include sedentary, light, moderate or heavy. These categories refer to how heavy of work an individual can perform. Under Social Security regulations a claimant who is limited to sedentary work only cannot perform work requiring them to stand more than 2 hours out of an 8-hour work day. The higher the exertional level the greater that individual's residual fictional capacity.
Based on a claimant's medical condition they may have additional restrictions outside of the four (4) above mentioned exertional categories. For example, someone with a respiratory condition like COPD may be additionally restricted in that they cannot be exposed to dusts, odors or fumes. Someone with severe mental health impairment may be restricted in the amount of time they can reasonably be expected to interact with customers, co-workers, supervisors or the general public in a work setting. These are examples of the types of additional restrictions that may be assessed in a residual functional capacity.
In short, every disability claimant will have their residual functional capacity assessed as part of their case. The assessment will determine what type of work that claimant can do or not do and with what restrictions. If there is no work the claimant can do under his or her residual functional capacity then they win their claim for disability benefits.
If you would like to discuss a potential claim for disability benefits, please reach out me. I would be more than happy to give you a free consultation.