Many lawyers say the RFC function form is the single most important document in your entire file! You want a function form. But you don’t want just any old function form. You want a GOOD form that helps your case. Here’s how to get one:
Get the right kind of doctor to fill out the form. Social Security would like this form to be signed by an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source.
Go with Plan B. If your doctor is not an acceptable medical source, you can ask for another doctor to co-sign. For example, if your form is filled out by a therapist or counselor, you can ask if a supervising psychiatrist or psychologist who can co-sign the form.
Go with Plan C. If you have more than one doctor, you can have one form that is filled out by an acceptable medical source and one that is not. As long as they have similar medical opinions, this is a great plan!
Cautionary Tale. No one ever told Patty the wrong kind of doctor was signing her RFC forms. Here’s what happened to Patty.
Find out where your doc stands. For the love of God, please do not give a form to a doctor that does not support your disability claim. If you are not 100% certain what your doctor thinks, try Having The Talk with your doc before you do anything.
Do not call the doctor’s office. I repeat: Do not call the doctor’s office and ask if the doctor will fill out a form! You will almost certainly be told no. Set up an appointment and ask in person.
Get around paperwork policies. If your doctor says “I won’t fill out paperwork.” This is not the end of the story. This is the beginning of the story. There are still a whole bunch of things you can do to try to get your doctor to fill out paperwork. Try it! It works!
Read the form yourself. Your doctor may have questions for you or wish to review parts of the form with you. Read it yourself and think ahead of time about what is true for you.
Set up a special appointment. If possible, it is helpful to set up a visit. For about a thousand different reasons, this is about a thousand times better than just mailing it or handing it to your doctor. You can try requesting an longer appointment so that you can review the form together and your doctor can fill it out during the visit. If possible, try to dedicate the entire appointment to this form and do not ask for or try to do anything else.
Don’t make it a one-time event. The function form is a great document, but Social Security is going to want to see that functioning problems is mentioned in different places in your records, not just this one time. If it is only written down one time, the judge may decide to ignore the form. (Seriously, it happens).
Collect Medical Evidence. One of the most important questions on the form is the objective medical evidence. If nothing is listed here, Social Security may just ignore your form! You do not need a million pieces of medical evidence, but one or two pieces of evidence can make a big difference. Here’s some more info on how to get some medical evidence.
Tell Your Doctor. Your doctor doesn’t know Social Security policies. Your doctor may not know how important it is to include something for that question. You can let your doctor know that question is important, and hand her a brief list of any medical evidence you have. Brief is good. Just a few sentences.
Help Your Doctor. When your doctor answers the medical evidence question, she may or may not have all your test results in the file and she may or may not take the time to look through the file to find what is there. Don’t take the risk! If you have an important test result, bring your doctor a copy. If you have had more than one good test result, it is really great if you can put together a brief list of test dates, locations, and outcomes. Do not assume that your doctor will remember/find test results if you do not hand it to her and point it out to her.
Use the right function form. The function form created by Social Security is not very specific and is missing a lot of important questions. It is better to use a specific function form with the right kind of questions.
Think About Finances. Many RFC forms include a question asking your doctor if you can are capable of handling your own finances. This appears on all mental forms and some physical ones. In some cases, your doctor may discuss this topic with you before answering the question. In other cases, you may decide to bring it up or point it out. What your doctor writes here can have a big impact on the rest of your life. Most doctors have no idea this question is so important and may answer it quickly without thinking it through. It is up to you how you want to approach this question. If a doctor writes that you cannot handle finances, then after your case is approved, you will not be allowed to manage your own disability money. You will need to select someone you trust to handle your disability money for you, or social security may appoint someone. Many people hate having representative payees and once you get rep payee status it can be difficult or impossible to change. To learn more about this google: social security representative payee.
Last but not least by a mile: Make sure your function form gets into your Social Security file. I mean, really make sure.