The mental residual functional capacity report explains how a person’s mental illness or mental health condition impacts his or her ability to work. Just as a residual functional capacity report demonstrates the limitations regarding a claimant’s ability to lift a certain amount of weight, how long a person can stand and other physical assessments, the mental residual functional capacity report assesses how a claimant’s psychological, emotional, psychiatric and cognitive impairments affect a claimant’s ability to work.

Mental RFC Reports

The Social Security Administration uses the mental RFC report to determine whether a claimant can perform his or her previous job or another job. The mental RFC is focused on the claimant’s ability to perform basic mental activities that are a necessary part of work. These abilities are ranked as “not significantly limited,” “moderately limited” or “markedly limited.” A claimant must usually have one of the basic abilities classified as “markedly limited” if applying for a disability that is based on a mental disorder. This classification is reserved for cases when a person is unable to perform the ability that makes him or her not qualified to perform even a sedentary position.

Abilities that Are Considered

A Social Security disability attorney can explain that the Social Security Administration assesses four basic categories when determining a claimant’s mental RFC, including:

  • Understanding and memory – The Social Security Administration focuses on whether a person can understand, remember and complete instructions.
  • Social interactions – The Social Security Administration assesses how a person generally gets along with others and whether he or she interacts appropriately in a social setting for a sustained period of time. Specifically, the SSA assesses whether a claimant asks for help, accepts feedback in an appropriate manner and interacts with others without demonstrating distracting behaviors.
  • Sustained concentration and persistence – This characteristic focuses on the claimant’s ability to concentrate on certain tasks and to complete them within a reasonable time. This is assessed by looking at how a claimant maintains concentration and attention, keeps a routine without the need for constant supervision, carries out simple instruction, stays on schedule, shows up to work at a regularly-scheduled time and prevents distractions in the workplace.
  • Adaptation – The Social Security Association assesses a claimant’s ability to respond and deal with typical work stresses.

If a person is markedly impaired in one or more of these categories, he or she may be entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits.