Free Consumer Reports

  • Long Term Disability Guide

    Robbed of Your Peace of Mind? Your Guide to Long Term Disability Benefits

    View Details

  • Hiring a Great Long Term Disability Attorney

    The Key To Hiring The Right Long Term Disability Attorney

    View Details

  • #

    The Smart Long Term Disability Guide For Preparing Your Statement and Field Visit

    View Details

  • Social Security Disability Guide

    Your Rights To Social Security Disability Benefits - Your Guide to Getting Benefits Now

    View Details

Tag Archives: residual functional capacity form

The ABC Formula for Having Your Doctor Fill Out a Residual Functional Capacity Form

If your physician has told you that you are unable to work as a result of a disabling medical condition, you should immediately file for Social Security Disability benefits. But, a letter from your doctor simply stating that you are disabled and no longer able to work is not going to cut it. A residual function capacity form can make or break your disability case.

What’s the secret behind a residual functional capacity form? This form answers the question about your ability to engage in normal activities despite medical or physical conditions. Some common questions about how long you can sit, stand, walk or lift; whether you have good days or bad days; can you be expected to miss time from work?Doctor Capacity Forms

One of the secrets is that well put together RFC form can be a key piece of evidence in your Social Security Disability case.

It’s crucial that you have your physician complete the right RFC form and to complete it in a way that paints a picture for the Administrative Law Judge about your functionality.

Under the Social Security Law, ALJ’s are required to give significant weight to the opinions of treating physicians, particularly if the doctor’s opinion is documented and consistent with your medical evidence.

An opinion from your treating physician can mean the difference between a favorable and unfavorable decision.

Social Security Disability benefits may be available to you, but, unfortunately, the Social Security Administration doesn’t make it easy for the disabled to get the benefits that they deserve, they will never tell you about residual functional capacity forms and how they can make or break your Social Security Disability claim. If you medical condition makes it impossible for you to work, and you have been denied your Social Security Disability benefits, Sharon Barrett can help you cut through the red tape and have your doctor fill out the right residual functional capacity form for your Social Security Disability claim. Call today at 727.894.3188.

What is the Five Step Sequential Evaluation the Social Security Administration Uses in Every Case All the Time?

The Social Security Administration analyzes your claim using what is called a 5 STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION process which we outline below.

1. Have you engaged in substantial gainful activity?

At Step One, the issue is whether you have worked after the date you said you became disabled. Most Social Security applicants meet test one because they have not worked since their disability began. If you have worked after the date you said you became, disabled, we can determine whether that work may disqualify you from entitlement to benefits.

2. Do you have a severe impairment?

Step 2 is designed to weed out cases that involve no medically determinable impairment or a slight impairment that imposes only minor limitations on the ability to work. Most Social Security applicants meet test two.

3. Does your medical condition meet the criteria in the Listing of Impairments?

At Step 3, the Social Security Administration refers to a Listing of Impairments which has been created for most physical and mental conditions. Each condition has a detailed list of medical signs, findings, symptoms, and functional limitations resulting from those symptoms. If the medical records show that your condition meets or is equal to a condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, you will be found disabled based on the medical evidence alone without consideration of your age, education, or work history. Unfortunately, the Listings are very narrowly defined and thus, most cases do not meet a Listing. At The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey, we review the medical records to determine whether they show the necessary criteria to meet a listing and if necessary contact your physician for additional documentation to support your claim. If disability cannot be determined at Step 3, the decision process proceeds to Step 4.

4. Can you return to your past relevant work activity?

At Step 4, the question is whether you can return to the lightest job you actually performed in the last 15 years. Social Security consulting physicians normally review the medical records and render an opinion regarding your capacity to perform work activity. The consultants generally find that the claimant is capable of performing light-duty work activity.  In most cases, this results in a denial of the claim. The opinion of your treating physician regarding your functional capacity and his willingness to complete functional capacity forms, are crucial to winning at this stage.

If the Social Security administration determines that you can return to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years your claim will be denied. However, if the Social Security administration determines that you cannot return to your past relevant work you still have not won your case! You must proceed to Step 5.

5. Can you perform other work that exists in the national economy in significant numbers in view of your age, education and transferable skills?

At Step 5, the burden shifts to the Social Security Administration to show that you retain the capacity to perform other work and that such other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy. In making this determination, the Social Security Administration uses Medical-Vocational Rules which are commonly called “grids”. These grids are biased against younger and more educated workers. In other words, the younger and more educated you are the less likely you will be able to prevail under the grid rules. If you do not meet the Grids, the key to winning at step five is to present evidence that demonstrates that the combined effect of your physical and/or mental impairments, chronic pain, and side effects of medication prevent you from performing even sedentary work activity on a regular and continuing basis, that is 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.

The most helpful evidence to establish such limitations is a Residual Functional Capacity Form which has been accurately completed by your treating physician. In completing this form, your physician will be asked to address whether you have exertional limitations on your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, push, and pull. Your physician will also be asked to address your non-exertional limitations including postural, manipulative, environmental, mental, and sensory impairments. These can include your need to alternate between sitting and standing, your need to elevate your legs, problems with balance, or difficulty bending, stooping or squatting, and difficulty with reaching, grasping, handling, and fingering objects. Non-exertional limitations also include difficulty relating to others, understanding or carrying out simple and structures, ability to maintain attention and concentration, and the ability to cope with stress.

There are over 30 different Residual Functional Capacity Forms which can be used to secure the correct information from your physician. It is important that the right form, that is one most suited to your medical condition, be used for your case. It is also important to understand that a Residual Functional Capacity Form accurately completed by your physician can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

*Click here for a FREE copy of "Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits"

Answering these broad-based questions isn't easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.

What Can I Expect at a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge?

At the hearing, you will appear and give testimony under oath regarding your pain and other symptoms and how your symptoms limit your ability to perform every day tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping, household chores, driving, and engaging in social activities. This testimony is evidence that the judge must consider along with the medical evidence in your file when making a decision regarding your ability to perform work activities.

The judge may also have a vocational expert appear at the hearing to give testimony as to whether a hypothetical person of your age, education, work history, impairments, and functional limitations could return to your past relevant work. The Administrative Law Judge will also ask the vocational expert whether this hypothetical person could perform other work activity that exists in a "mythical" national economy.

If your treating physician has completed a Residual Functional Capacity Form, the Administrative Law Judge will use the limitations and restrictions cited by your physician in forming his questions to the vocational expert to determine if your restrictions would prevent you from performing your past work activity and any other work activity. If it can be shown that you are unable to return to your past relevant work and cannot perform any other work activity on a regular and continuing basis, you will likely win your disability claim.

However, if your physician has not been asked to provide detailed information about your exertional and non-exertional limitations, the Administrative Law Judge will rely on the opinions of the Social Security Consulting physicians in asking the vocational rehabilitation counselor questions about your ability to work. In most cases, this means your claim will be denied because the consulting physicians almost always find that the claimant can perform at least light work activity on a regular basis.

Keep in mind, that the Social Security Administration never asks your physician to complete a Residual Functional Capacity form. Unless you or your representative requests this information, it is unlikely that your doctor’s opinion regarding your functional capacity will make it into your claims file.

Since most claims are denied at the first two levels, the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is your best opportunity to get a full and fair hearing regarding your disability. However, it is unreasonable for you to expect that you can simply walk into a hearing and win without preparation and solid evidence! At The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey, we are committed to developing the evidence necessary to accurately document your impairments and the functional limitations resulting from those impairments, submitting the evidence to the court and making sure that you are properly prepared for your hearing.

*Click here for a FREE copy of "Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits"

Answering these broad-based questions isn't easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.

Long Term Disability Benefits and Your Records | Long Term Disability Denied Lawyer in Tampa Bay

When you apply for Long Term Disability Benefits, your Long Term Disability carrier will ask for your medical records. However, the Long Term Disability carrier will not tell you what medical records are the most important in your disability claim. There are three types of medical records each of which can result in a denial of your Long Term Disability claim, or an approval.

1. Chart Notes

When you go to see your physician, a nurse or assistant will take information regarding your complaints, symptoms, medications and perhaps the difficulty of how you are functioning.

Chart notes are important because Long Term Disability carriers will first determine whether or not they can deny your disability claim on the basis that your condition is a preexisting condition excluded by the terms of your Long Term Disability policy.

A Long Term Disability adjuster will look to see whether or not you have received treatment for the disabling condition, during the pre-existing exclusionary period. If so, chart notes will be used to deny your claim for Long Term Disability benefits.

Chart notes can also be used to establish when your disability began and your diagnosis. Picking the right date of disability can be crucial and the Long Term Disability carrier will compare the chart notes with your disability application to determine whether or not your date of disability is consistent with the chart notes.

2. Narrative Notes

Narrative Notes are those written by your doctor and generally include information about your appearance, any changes since your last appointment, any changes in your medication, examination findings and the doctor’s comments regarding your diagnosis and prognosis.

The narrative chart notes are crucial to your disability claim because it will show how your condition may have worsened over a period of time. Unfortunately, most doctors do not write chart notes for the disability insurance companies and it is up to you to make sure that the narrative notes reflect accurately your complaints, difficulties in functioning and any changes that you have experienced between visits.

Some Long Term Disability benefits applicants think it is best to get a narrative letter drafted by your doctor addressed to a Long Term Disability carrier confirming that you are disabled and unable to work. Unfortunately, that letter is not worth the paper that it is written on.

What is important is to have your doctor accurately complete the Residual Functional Capacity questionnaires that the Long Term Disability carrier requires.

3. Residual Functional Capacity Forms

I have written extensively about the completion of Activities of Daily Living forms and their role in your Long Term Disability claim. I believe it is important that your doctor have your Activity of Daily Living forms to assist them in completing a Residual Functional Capacity questionnaire.

Unfortunately, there is no uniform functional capacity form and they do take a lot of time to complete. More often then not a nurse and not your doctor will complete these forms.

These forms will ask questions about how much you can lift, how often, how far, whether you need to sit or lie down, whether you are likely to miss work.

The doctor will fill out the forms circling the appropriate response and write notes clarifying their responses.

It is important that your doctor understands how to answer these questions properly. If your doctor writes that you can lift a lot, stand or sit for long periods of time and work in sedentary position, the Long Term Disability carrier will take the position that you are not disabled.

If your doctor does not understand how to fill out Residual Functional Capacity forms you should consider hiring a disability lawyer such as Nancy Cavey to educate your physician as to how to complete these forms.

If your doctor does not consider you to be disabled, you should strongly consider changing physicians.

It is important for you to be treated by a physician who is not only competent and qualified to treat your disabling condition, but is also willing to assist you with your disability claim.

If you have questions about medical records for your Long Term Disability claim, how your physician should complete a functional capacity form, ask Nancy Cavey, your Long Term Disability denied lawyer in Tampa Bay Florida. You may feel overwhelmed in completing Activity Daily Living forms or dealing with your physician. A Long Term Disability attorney may be your best option, since Florida disability lawyers, such as Nancy Cavey, know what to ask the doctors and can educate them about how to accurately complete Residual Functional Capacity forms that will greatly increase your chances of success.

Long Term Disability Denials Based On Vocational Opinions

In determining whether you are entitled to Long Term Disability benefits, the Long Term Disability carrier must determine whether or not your diagnosis and disability prevent you from doing your own occupation during the first twenty four months of your disability and any occupation thereafter.

Long Term Disability carriers routinely use vocational rehabilitation counselors to review disability claims to determine whether or not you can do your former work or any work in the national economy. Unfortunately, vocational rehabilitation counselors hired by the Long Term Disability carriers make a number of mistakes. First, they will use the Residual Functional Capacity forms completed by the carrier’s doctors, which will most likely say that you can do at least sedentary work. The vocational rehabilitation counselor will rarely consider the opinion of your doctor about your abilities.

Secondly, they will determine that you have certain transferable skills based on the kinds of work you have done in the past that would make you able to engage in your current job or some job in the national economy.

Thirdly, vocational counselors will perform what is called a labor market survey, which will allegedly document that there are jobs available in the open market based on your age, education and transferable skills. However, labor market surveys don’t deal with reality. There might be jobs available but is there a job you can in fact obtain?

Vocational rehabilitation counselors never address these issues and when Nancy Cavey, Long Term Disability denied attorney, asks for this material, it’s never supplied.

If your Long Term Disability claim has been denied based on a vocational opinion, you may need the services of an experienced Long Term Disability attorney like Nancy Cavey. Ms. Cavey, who is well versed in transferable skills analysis and labor market surveys will obtain and review your Long Term Disability file and secure the services of a vocational evaluator who will give an honest opinion about your ability to do your former job or any work in the national economy.