How significant is an RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) assessment form in regards to appeals? Does one have to develop RFC evidence if the claimant meets a Listing?
RFC forms are very useful and can be a vehicle for the treating source to provide medical opinion evidence, forcing the ALJ to consider it. Sometimes the ALJ will discount the RFC form if he/she feels that it is not supported by the medical records. For instance, sometimes a doctor will give the opinion that the applicant “can sit for 30 minutes” but nowhere in the medical record is there anything about this at patient appointments. So, be aware of that. Also, be sure that the answers on the form are internally consistent.
For the second question, once DDS determines the applicant has met a Listing (at Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation), DDS stops developing the claim for other impairments. DDS looks at the applicant’s RFC at Step 4 and Step 5. The applicant’s RFC is determined and compared to the physical and mental demands of the past relevant work (Step 4). When it is determined that the applicant cannot perform past relevant work, RFC, age, education and past work experience must be considered to determine if there is other less demanding work the applicant can do.
Finally, RFC forms which are designed with space for the physician to provide their medical opinion, and not merely a form with check off boxes, is most effective.