How To Avoid Function Form Mistakes

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Artist: Robin Mead

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.

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Exercise Physiologists – These types of practitioners are not considered Acceptable Medical Sources and sometimes their reports are ignored. If you have had a CPET, an FCE, or another kind of functional exam, please bring a copy or the report to your doctor. If your doctor agrees with the report, she can list this report as part of your medical evidence on your RFC form. She can also write a letter stating the test results and her medical opinion about the test outcomes. Once your doctor reviews the report and writes something about it, it will magically become evidence from an acceptable medical source!

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. We 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.

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. You can also fill out your own version to show your doctor as a reference (don’t send a form you filled out yourself to Social Security – this is something you can give to your doctor to assist them is learning more about your limitations).

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.

Bring Your Doctor Your Medical Evidence – When you bring your doctor the RFC form, it’s very helpful if you can hand them a short list of any medical evidence you have – including any abnormal test results, dates, labs or medical facilities, and outcomes. If you got a function test or any kind of evaluation, you can bring the report for reference.

Help Your Doctor. Do not assume that your doctor will remember/find all your test results, if you do not hand it to her and point it out to her. A brief list that includes any important medical test outcomes or medical findings can be a big help.

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. Learn more about Representative Payees.

Last but not least by a mile: Make sure your function form gets into your Social Security file. I mean, really make sure.

Updated January 2018. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please use one of these magic buttons to share this post on Facebook or Twitter:

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