What Every Social Security Disability Applicant Must Know About Non-Exertional Limitations
In evaluating your claim for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider how your exertional and non-exertional limitations affect your ability to work.
Residual functional capacity forms.
Residual functional capacity forms (RFC) are detailed reports your physician completes that discusses how your impairments impact your ability to perform work related activities. The Social Security Administration has never told you about these forms! Your doctor probably doesn’t have one in their office.
Having a properly completed residual functional capacity form is crucial to winning your Social Security disability claim.
Many Social Security disability applicants have exertional limitations that impact their ability to do the physical demands of the job. Exertional limitations are strength related and can affect your ability to:
• Carry; and
Just as important as these exertional limitations are non-exertional impairments.
What are non-exertional limitations? They are functional limitations that affect your ability to do non-strength work related activities. Examples of non-exertional limitations include:
• Difficulty using fingers and hands to manipulate, reach or handle objects (manipulative restrictions);
• Stooping, climbing, crawling or crouching (postural restrictions);
• Seeing, speaking or hearing (visual and communication restrictions);
• Functioning because of nervousness, anxiety or depression;
• Paying attention or concentrating;
• Understanding or remembering detailed instructions; and
• Being around noise, dust or hot and cold temperature.
Non-exertional limitations caused by pain can also be caused by pain or can result from mental illness.
The combination of exertional and non-exertional impairments
The Social Security Administration will combine your exertional and non-exertional impairments to determine your level of physical functioning. It’s crucial that your physician complete a winning residual functional capacity form documenting your exertional and non-exertional impairments.
When the Social Security Administration looks at Step 5 of the 5 Step sequential evaluation to determine whether there are less demanding jobs that you can perform, having non-exertional restrictions can rule out jobs. So, for example, it’s not unusual for vocational evaluators to testify in Social Security hearings at Step 5 that there are sedentary jobs you might be capable of doing. However, non-exertional limitations such as problems using your fingers or hands to manipulate, reach or handle objects can eliminate sedentary jobs such as assembly work and ticket taker.
Getting help with your RFC
Having your physician complete the RFC is crucial and having an attorney assist you in developing the right residual functional capacity form is key to winning your case. If you have non-exertional limitations that prevent you from working, contact Tampa Bay Social Security disability attorney, Nancy Cavey, who can help you get the Social Security disability benefits you deserve.