Last time, we talked about the disability benefits available to children. Today, I want to talk to you about how Social Security evaluates children for disability. When Social Security is evaluating whether a child under the age of 18 is disabled they look to see if the child meets a listing, equals a listing, or functionally equals a listing. Social Security has a book containing numerous conditions and they will first look to see whether your impairment is one of these listed conditions. If it is, they will look to see if you meet the severity requirements for payment of disability and if your child does, he/she will be found to be disabled. This is called meeting a listing.
If you do not meet or equal a listed impairment, Social Security will assess the child’s functioning in six separate areas, called domains. The six areas are: acquiring and using information; attending and completing tasks; interacting and relating to others; moving about and manipulating objects; caring for him/herself; and health and physical well-being. Social Security has standards to evaluate children of different ages because older children would be expected to be able to do more than younger children. To be entitled to a finding of disabled, you have to show that your child has a Marked impairment (Serious impairment) in 2 of the 6 domains, or, an Extreme impairment (Very Serious impairment) in 1 of the 6 domains. This is called functional equivalence. You can combine multiple impairments to show a Marked or Extreme impairment in one area. Similarly, one impairment can affect multiple domains.
If you are pursing a case for children’s benefits and you have questions, please feel free to contact me to discuss your case.