How to Get a Great RFC Function Form

Artwork: Robin Mead

If you are applying for disability, you may be surprised to learn that Social Security is not going to ask your doctor any questions about you!

They will just collect your regular medical records and you have to hope that what is already in there is good enough. Sometimes they don’t even collect all your records.

Luckily, there is a special form you can ask your doctor to fill out. This form will tell Social Security a whole lot more about you and your disability.

Many disability lawyers say this is the most important form in your whole file. It is called an Residual Function Capacity (RFC) form, and if you can get one, you want one!

Where do I find an RFC Function Form?

Social Security has it’s own RFC function form, but most lawyers do not use this one. I would recommend not using the Social Security form because it is missing some key questions that can be very important in winning a case.

Here are some excellent forms that include more specific questions that can help your case. You can print them out and bring them to your doctor yourself:

  • Mental Function Form – Ideally, this would be filled out by a licensed psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. If you are seeing more than one practitioner, then you could have a second form filled out by a therapist, counselor or Social Worker.
  • Fibromyalgia Function Form – This can be filled out by any primary care doctor, but it is better if it is filled out by a rheumatologist.

How do I get a function form filled out?

If you have a lawyer, your lawyer can send the form to your doctor for you, but it is much much better to set up a special appointment with to sit with your doctor while she fills out the form. If you don’t believe me, just ask Violet: How Violet Won Her Case Using Function Forms

How many RFC forms do I need?

You only need one. If you can get more than one, that is extra great! If you have more than one doctor, it is great to get more than one rfc as long as both forms say similar things about how disabled you are. It is extremely important that at least one of your doctors is an acceptable medical source. If it has been more than a year since your rfc was filled out, you can consider asking your doctor to fill out an additional new one, if they are willing.

What’s the Catch?

I know what you’re thinking: Yipee!! I want me one of those great RFC Function Forms!!! Sign me up!!

But wait… don’t run out and get one just yet…. there’s a problem. Sometimes a function form gets ignored, or doesn’t help your case, or may even hurt your case!

No worries. You can avoid any of these problems and get the function form of your dreams. Here’s how to avoid function form mistakes

Meeting with Your Doc

When your doctor fills out the forms, she may ask you some questions to better understand your daily activities and limitations. It is important to be honest. If you have good and bad days, many disability lawyers suggest using the magic words “When my symptoms are bad…” Learn more: How Roselyn Used the Magic Words

What If My Doctor Says No?

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 disability form! I think the front desk staff are trained to automatically say no to this question. Ask your doctor yourself in person. It’s great if you can set up a special appointment just for this form (don’t hand it to them in the middle of an appointment for something else.) If your doctor says no, 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!

Trick Questions

Many RFC forms include a question asking your doctor if you can manage your own finances. This question is especially common for mental health. What your doctor writes here can have a big impact on the rest of your life.

If your doctor leaves this blank, Social Security may decide this question on their own. It is better if your doctor answers.

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. To learn more about this google: social security representative payee.

I should probably mention: Nearly everyone who has a representative payee hates it. Once you get assigned representative payee status, you will probably have it the rest of your life. It is very difficult and sometimes impossible to get out of.

Your doctor probably has no idea how important this question is or how much it will impact your life. She may write something quickly without knowing. If this is important to you, talk to your doc about it.


Updated April 2017. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

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