Identification Number:
DI 24510 TN 57
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP ODP
Title:Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:Disability
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part DI – Disability Insurance
Chapter 245 – Medical Evaluation
Subchapter 10 – Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
Transmittal No. 57, 02/12/2021

Audience

PSC: DE, DEC;
OCO-OEIO: CR, ERE, FDE, RECONE;
OCO-ODO: DE, DEC, DS, RECONE;
OCO: ODD;
ODD-DDS: ADJ, DHU;

Originating Component

ODP

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

This is a Quick Action Transmittal. These revisions do not change or introduce new policy or procedure.

Summary of Changes

DI 24510.057 Sustainability and the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment

The purpose of this update is to clarify how to address situations of physical incapacitation under current policy. It also includes minor changes to improve readability, remove redundancies, update language for conformity with current policy, and correct punctuation errors.

DI 24510.057 Sustainability and the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) Assessment

CITATIONS:

Sections 223(d) and 1614(a) of the Social Security Act, as amended.
Regulations No. 4, subpart P, Sections 404.1513, 404.1520, 404.1520a, 404.1545, 404.1546, 404.1560, 404.1569a, and
Appendix 2; and Regulations No. 16, subpart I, Sections 416.913, 416.920, 416.920a, 416.945, 416.946, 416.960, 416.969a; and
Social Security Ruling 96-8p.

A. Policy for Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

RFC represents the most a claimant can do despite his or her limitations or restrictions. Ordinarily, RFC is the individual's maximum remaining ability to do sustained work activities:

  • In an ordinary work setting,

  • On a regular and continuing basis, and

  • For 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule.

However, if a claimant is unable to sustain a 40-hour workweek because of a severe medically determinable impairment (MDI), the adjudicator or medical consultant must discuss sustainability in the RFC.

B. Procedure for assessing the RFC

1. Claimant’s ability to sustain a 40-hour workweek

In assessing RFC, consider the individual's ability to perform work activities in an ordinary work setting on a regular and continuing basis and describe the maximum amount of each work-related activity the claimant can perform on a sustained basis based on the evidence available in the case record.

2. Claimant’s inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek

If a claimant is unable to sustain work activities in an ordinary work setting on a regular and continuing basis, explain why the claimant is not capable of sustaining a 40-hour workweek. For information on when more than one medical assessment may be required, see DI 24501.002B.1.b.

REMINDER: To be assessed in RFC, the claimant’s impairment(s) and impairment-related limitation(s) must meet the duration requirement for disability. For information on the duration requirement, see DI 25505.025 and DI 25505.030.

a. RFC reflects some ability to do sustained work-related activity

In most cases, the exertional and nonexertional limitations resulting from an MDI can be measured using the functions listed in the check boxes on the RFC form. For completion of the RFC form, see DI 24510.050, DI 24510.061, and DI 24510.063 through DI 24510.065. The check boxes should reflect the conclusions reached in the narrative portion of the RFC. The adjudicator must explain in the narrative how the claimant’s MDI(s) prevents him or her from sustaining a 40-hour workweek. See DI 24510. 057B.3 in this section.

NOTE: With the RFC for inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek, the claimant may be able to perform past relevant work (PRW) as explained in DI 24510.057B.4 in this section. However, the claimant is unable to perform PRW as generally performed in the national economy or do other work that exists in the national economy.

b. RFC reflects complete inability to do sustained work related activity

In the rare situation when the claimant’s impairment(s) does not meet or medically equal a listing, but the evidence clearly indicates the claimant is unable to sustain any work-related activity, assess that he or she is unable to sustain any work for this period.

Provide a rationale in the narrative portion of the RFC that meets the requirements listed in DI 24510.057B.3 in this section. The narrative must clearly explain how the evidence supports the conclusion that the claimant is physically incapacitated and unable to do any work-related activity (for example, in a medically-induced coma, in hospice care, or otherwise requiring constant medical attention).

NOTE: With the RFC for inability to sustain any work-related activity, the claimant is unable to perform PRW or do other work that exists in the national economy.

3. RFC narrative requirements

In all cases involving inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek, the narrative must:

  • Clearly explain how and why the medical evidence (signs, symptoms, laboratory findings) and other evidence support the conclusion;

  • Provide a detailed explanation of what limitation(s) the claimant has that render him or her unable to sustain a 40-hour workweek;

  • Provide an in-depth analysis of what prevents the claimant from sustaining work activity, and not just repeat what is contained in the RFC check boxes;

  • Evaluate the claimant’s statements about pain, fatigue, and other symptoms;

  • Address all medical opinions in the case file; and

  • Consider limitations and restrictions imposed by all of a claimant's impairments, even those that are not “severe.”

4. Part-time work that is substantial gainful activity (SGA)

If a claimant’s RFC reflects an inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek and he or she has part-time PRW, address in the file whether the claimant can sustain the part-time PRW. If a claimant’s RFC reflects an inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek and he or she has part time PRW, do a function-by-function comparison of the claimant’s RFC and the requirements of his or her relevant part-time work. The file must specifically address the number of hours the claimant performed the part-time PRW and the claimant’s ability to sustain the work as he or she describes it. For example, if the claimant worked 30 hours a week, 6 hours a day, the claimant’s ability to stand and/or walk in a 6-hour workday could be addressed in the narrative portion of the RFC. For determination of capacity for PRW, see DI 25005.001.

REMINDER: Inability to sustain a 40-hour workweek is an RFC finding. The adjudicator must use that RFC finding to complete the sequential evaluation process. If the claimant’s part-time PRW is within his or her RFC, deny the case at step 4 of the sequential evaluation process. If the claimant cannot do PRW, proceed to step 5. An inability to sustain a 40-hour work week at step 5 would result in a significantly eroded occupational base at all exertional levels. For information on the sequential evaluation process, see DI 24001.015B.


DI 24510 TN 57 - Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) - 2/12/2021