SSA Evaluations: What Is a Mental RFC?

Mental RFC Evaluations

When the Social Security Administration uses the acronym RFC, it stands for residual functional capacity. In the case of a mental RFC, the goal of this evaluation is to determine whether you’re capable of doing the work you were before, as well as any other type of job. A RFC takes into account both your impairment and any treatment you’re receiving. If the outcome of a mental RFC is the SSA determining that you’re not capable of performing any type of work on a full-time basis your Social Security benefits will be awarded.

The mental RFC evaluation looks at a person’s functioning in the following areas: activities of daily living, social functioning, and maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace. For each area that’s evaluated, the assessment can be one of the following:

  • slight/not significantly limited
  • moderately limited
  • markedly limited
  • extremely limited
  • insufficient evidence

In order to be approved for disability benefits, it’s almost always necessary to be judged as markedly limited in one of the evaluated areas. This means that even work that’s classified as unskilled and simple isn’t an option for you. The SSA also looks at episodes of decompensation and intellectual functioning.

How Does the SSA Actually Make Mental RFC Assessments?

While it’s useful to know the areas a mental RFC focuses on, what most applicants really want to know is how the SSA completes their evaluations. During the course of determining an applicant’s residual functional capacity, the SSA will look at both non-medical and medical evidence. In terms of the former, reports from people you interact with on a regular basis are the most common type of non-medical evidence. Whether it’s a family member or social worker, the SSA will want to know if you’re capable of handling tasks like shopping, paying bills, cleaning and maintaining good hygiene.

For medical evidence, any observations, reports or tests that come from medical sources may be used as part of the SSA’s evaluation. These sources will be used to identify if you’ve experienced specific symptoms, including withdrawn behavior, depression, anxiety, phobias, paranoid ideas, hallucinations or delusions. Based on the combination of all the evidence that’s collected and assessments that are made, the SSA will decide how limited they think you are in terms of activities you’re capable of doing.

If you’re trying to secure Social Security benefits for a mental impairment but are feeling overwhelmed by this process, get in touch with Lisa M. Ritacco. As a Social Security disability lawyer, she fights har