Functional Limitations

Last Updated: July 30, 2019

Definition - What does Functional Limitations mean?

Functional limitations is the term used to refer to mental and/or physical disabilities that inhibit autonomous control in executing personal and professional duties, responsibilities and tasks. In the workplace, many people experience a broad spectrum of functional limitations that can often lead to overlapping ramifications in areas where efficiency and productivity are key elements. For instance, individuals with mental disabilities may have general communication issues causing short attention span, weak listening skills, low comprehension level, difficulty conveying information, observing and interpreting both nonverbal and verbal cues, and following oral and/or written instructions.

WorkplaceTesting explains Functional Limitations

Although functional limitations are a common problem that often dictate employable candidacy for many people, they do not always serve as an effective benchmark in justifying career placement. This means, in some cases, accommodations and/or modifications might be required to assist individuals with functional limitations to perform at an equal level as their non-disabled peers.

Many individuals file disability benefit claims through the Social Security Administration (SSA) based on the relative extent and nature of their functional limitations. However, a formality called a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment is conducted by a claims observer or medical specialist to validate the claim. Health records substantiate a medical history describing physical and/or mental impairment(s) consistent with the claim being processed. The RFC report also accounts for a claimant’s previous work experience, factoring in environmental conditions and whether it is labor-intensive or a sedentary position. The claims representative or medical specialist may recommend a similar position matching their credentials or suggest a different occupation altogether in line with the progressive state of their disability.

Applicants and/or employees with functional limitations need to coordinate with their doctors and their employers about accommodations and/or modifications in tandem with company policy. However, legal counsel may be required involving an employer and doctor to determine if a filed disability claim is legitimate.

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