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What is “residual functional capacity”?

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2015 | Social Security Disability Benefits

For a Los Angeles resident who is just beginning to look into the possibility of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the whole process can seem daunting. Just the sheer amount of information that is sometimes needed to make an application complete and strong enough to show all of the evidence of a disability can be a bit off-putting. On top of this, many of the terms involved can seem like technical, legal jargon. For instance, what is “residual functional capacity”?

This term, “residual functional capacity,” refers to a person’s remaining ability in a work setting despite their health condition. It is an important part of a person’s application for SSD benefits. This capacity will be determined by the Social Security Administration as part of a review of an applicant’s complete file.

Why is determining a person’s residual functional capacity so important? Well, the Social Security Administration uses this determination to weigh whether or not a person can continue to do the work that they had been doing prior to the onset of the disability. In other words, if the disability doesn’t prevent the person from continuing in the type of work they have always done, that person’s application for SSD benefits may be denied. Or, if the person’s residual functional capacity still leaves them with the ability to do some other form of work, an application can be denied on these grounds as well.

Understanding the terms involved when applying for SSD benefits can be crucial. Getting the right information both before and during the application process can be very beneficial for Los Angeles residents.

Source:, “Residual Functional Capacity,” Accessed March 29, 2015

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