Residual Functional Capacity Assessment for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

What Is RFC?

If your complex regional pain syndrome is not severe enough to equal a listing at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process, the Social Security Administration will need to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC) to decide whether you are disabled at Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.

RFC is a claimant’s ability to perform work-related activities. In other words, it is what you can still do despite your limitations. An RFC for physical impairments is expressed in terms of whether the Social Security Administration believes you can do heavy, medium, light, or sedentary work in spite of your impairments. An RFC for mental impairments is expressed in terms of whether Social Security Administration believes the claimant can do skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled work in spite of impairments, or whether the claimant cannot even do unskilled work. The lower your RFC, the less the Social Security Administration believes you can do.

RSDS / CRPS and Residual Functional Capacity

If you have RSDS / CRPS, you may have significant residual limitations that could potentially result in allowance of your claim.

The Social Security Administration has issued a ruling on RSDS / CRPS that provides guidance to Social Security Administration adjudicators about what to consider in assessing a claimant’s RFC. In determining your RFC, the Social Security Administration adjudicator should consider all of your symptoms in deciding how they may affect your ability to function. Careful consideration should be given to the effects of pain and its treatment on your capacity to do sustained work-related physical and mental activities in a work setting on a regular and continuing basis.

Opinions from your treating doctors concerning the effects of RSDS / CRPS on your ability to function in a sustained manner in performing work activities, or in performing activities of daily living, are important in enabling adjudicators to draw conclusions about the severity of your impairments and your RFC. See Getting Your Doctor’s Opinion About What You Can Still Do.

Any information a medical source is able to provide contrasting your medical condition and functional capacities since the onset of RSDS / CRPS with your status before its onset is helpful to the adjudicator in evaluating your impairments and their functional consequences.

Evidence from medical practitioners who have provided services to you is often critical in deciding your credibility.

Statements from people who know you can help the adjudicator to assess your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. These statements can also help show how your condition has changed over time. Such evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Information from neighbors, friends, relatives, or clergy.
  • Statements from past employers, rehabilitation counselors, or teachers about your impairments and their effects on how your function in the work place, rehabilitation facility, or educational institution.
  • Statements from health care professional, other than doctors, who know you, such as nurse-practitioners, physicians' assistants, naturopaths, therapists, social workers, and chiropractors.
  • Your own record (such as a diary, journal, or notes) of your impairments and their impact on function over time.

Continue to Getting Your Doctor's Medical Opinion About What You Can Still Do or Complex Regional Pain Medical Source Statement.
Go back to How to Get Disability Benefits for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome by Meeting a Listing..