In America today, citizens of all ages experience pain or fatigue associated with an illness or injury. When the pain or fatigue occurs on a consistent basis, it can prevent you from performing the duties of your full-time job in the manner you are expected. In fact, over 10 million workers, ages 20 and up, suffer from some sort of illness or disability that affects their day-to-day functioning.


If you are experiencing your own symptoms of pain or fatigue, and feel that you can no longer work a full-time job to the best of your ability, it may be time to seriously consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. However, before doing so, you will need to gather together a substantial amount of information and evidence of your claim. This is needed so that you can greatly improve your chances of being the benefits you deserve.

To help you with this task, it is recommended that you contact a Chicago Illinois Social Security attorney. The attorney is well versed in what is needed to help you with your claim, and together you’ll be able to more easily put together all the forms and information required and present your case for SSR 96-8 (a social security ruling that provides an assessment of your ability to perform the full-time work-related activities required of you).

In addition, the following information will provide you with a better understanding of what is required for an SSR 96-8 case, and how SSR 96-8p, an additional and very important ruling, can be used to bolster your case.

Understanding Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

Put simply, your RFC is an assessment made by the SSA as to whether you possess the capabilities to perform your job functions. A determination of your RFC is the cornerstone of SSR 96-8p, and can greatly impact your possibility of receiving benefits.

SSR 96-8p refers to a series of factors that the SSA will use to make a final decision regarding your RFC and how it pertains to your SSR 96-8 case. For example, the criteria that are provided to the SSA may result in a determination that you can perform sedentary work, such as sitting at a computer, but not medium or heavy work, which requires more physical activity.

The following factors are used to make the determination regarding your RFC:

  •    Medical history including laboratory findings
  •    How treatment has affected you
  •    Daily activity reports
  •    Impressions from lay sources who are not medical professionals
  •    Recorded evidence
  •    Accounts of what happened when you tried to work
  •    Work evaluations
  •    Doctors’ statements

In order to ensure that you are able to submit the complete and proper information for your SSR 96-8 case, it is critically important that you maintain a positive, ongoing relationship with your doctors. It is also essential that you follow their treatment plans and obtain clear statements from them about how your impairment has affected your ability to work.

Your doctor’s opinions must be supported by diagnostic and clinical evidence. If they are, SSR 96-8p will help to give your medical professional’s judgment additional weight with the administrative law judge who hears your case.

How is Your RFC Used?

When your information relative to SSR 96-8p is submitted, it will be reviewed by a disability claims examiner at DDS. The examiner will also take into consideration your prior work history to see what type of work you have experience and what you should know how to do. This is important because is your work history involves a lot of sedentary work and your RFC is cleared for sedentary work, the determination will likely be that you are capable of returning to your job and performing those duties. (However, there may be cases where you have additional non-exertional restrictions).

It is also important to consider whether or not you have mental or emotional limitations that could prevent you from performing your work duties to the maximum, such as memory problems or a neurological disorder. If this is the case, you should also have a mental RFC created, with enough supporting documentation from a doctor and medical professionals.

The claims examiner needs to be able to determine whether or not you can attend work and perform your duties on a full-time basis, without the need for extra breaks. If the determination is made that you are not able to perform your work functions in this manner, the next step is to determine if you can learn to perform duties at another trade or occupation. This determination is based on your RFC factors, your age, and your current skills and education level.

The Importance of the SSR 96-8p Ruling

As you can see, it is vitally important that you keep and maintain all documentation in order to have the best chances of getting a positive and favorable outcome with your SSR 96-8 case. The SSR 96-8p ruling also enables you to show the law judge how any of your other non-severe but still disabling conditions combine with your major symptoms to prevent you from working.

In short, your RFC can be based on mental limitations such as an inability to focus or carry out instructions, and/or on physical ones such as how much you can lift, how long you can stand, whether you can use your hands or reach, and many others. It is definitely in your best interest to carefully study SSR 96-8p to show how your physical or cognitive limitations preclude you from doing your full-time job successfully.