Detailing Your Functional Limitations Will Help You To Prove Your Case

Posted on: 5 May 2015

If you have applied for social security disability, you have done so on the basis that you are unable to work. While this may be due to an accident, illness, or injury, what the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to be able to see in your record is exactly how your condition affects your ability to produce an income. When examining your record for the purposes of approving your claim, they will be looking to see what are your functional limitations are. Knowing what these are, and ensuring that they are clearly outlined in your record, will help move your disability claim along, and will hopefully give you a positive outcome in the end.

What Are Functional Limitations?

When you apply for Social Security disability, you are stating that you have one or more of the disabling impairments which would keep you from doing any gainful activity. You are also stating that your impairment is expected to last for at least a year, is permanent, or will eventually result in your death. 

Unfortunately, to be able to prove your claim to the SSA, it is not just enough to show that you have this condition, but you must be able to show how this condition limits your ability to work, or exactly what are you not able to do. This is referred to as your functional limitations

How Do You Prove Your Functional Limitations?

One of the things that the Disability Determination Specialist (DDS) will perform when looking through your record is a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. This assessment will help them to determine the type of work that you may be capable of doing even with the limitations that you may have. 

For example: If you were previously employed as a long distance truck driver, and you have sustained an injury which has made you partially blind, you may not be able to pass the medical certification which you need to maintain your commercial driver's license. This does not mean that you would be unable to work in another position in which you would not be required to drive.

You may be able to use your skills and training to work in dispatch, the warehouse, or some other division within the trucking industry. Depending on your level of education, you may be able to be retrained to work in another field altogether.

To be able to prove your case for disability, not only do you have to be able to show that your functional limitations will take you out of your current employment, but that they will prevent you from performing any type of meaningful employment full-time without excessive restrictions.

Some of the activities that are considered are:

  • How long can you sit or stand?
  • Can you crouch, stoop, and bend?
  • Can you reach up over your head, or reach forward?
  • Do you still have fine motor skills?
  • Can you see and hear?
  • Do you have cognitive issues?

While some of these are very generalized categories, the Disability Determination Specialist looking at your file will look for documentation that goes into greater detail.

How Do You Provide The Information Needed?

The easiest way to ensure that your record has all of your functional limitations included is to ask your physician to complete the actual Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Form. If possible, you will want to have one filled out by each type of physician you have seen. This includes not only your physician, but your psychologist or psychiatrist.

Although the SSA will still have their doctors complete their own forms, it will help your case to be able to have your treating physician voice their own opinion. After all, they have more first-hand knowledge of your condition. The form that your physician fills out may be the edge you need to get your claim approved. Once you have completed this step, a social security disability attorney can assist you in filing for social security disability.


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