20 CFR 416.926a - Functional equivalence for children.

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§ 416.926a Functional equivalence for children.
(a) General. If you have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that does not meet or medically equal any listing, we will decide whether it results in limitations that functionally equal the listings. By “functionally equal the listings,” we mean that your impairment(s) must be of listing-level severity; i.e., it must result in “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one domain, as explained in this section. We will assess the functional limitations caused by your impairment(s); i.e., what you cannot do, have difficulty doing, need help doing, or are restricted from doing because of your impairment(s). When we make a finding regarding functional equivalence, we will assess the interactive and cumulative effects of all of the impairments for which we have evidence, including any impairments you have that are not “severe.” (See§ 416.924(c).) When we assess your functional limitations, we will consider all the relevant factors in §§ 416.924a, 416.924b, and 416.929 including, but not limited to:
(1) How well you can initiate and sustain activities, how much extra help you need, and the effects of structured or supportive settings (see§ 416.924a(b)(5));
(2) How you function in school (see§ 416.924a(b)(7)); and
(3) The effects of your medications or other treatment (see§ 416.924a(b)(9)).
(b) How we will consider your functioning. We will look at the information we have in your case record about how your functioning is affected during all of your activities when we decide whether your impairment or combination of impairments functionally equals the listings. Your activities are everything you do at home, at school, and in your community. We will look at how appropriately, effectively, and independently you perform your activities compared to the performance of other children your age who do not have impairments.
(1) We will consider how you function in your activities in terms of six domains. These domains are broad areas of functioning intended to capture all of what a child can or cannot do. In paragraphs (g) through (l), we describe each domain in general terms. For most of the domains, we also provide examples of activities that illustrate the typical functioning of children in different age groups. For all of the domains, we also provide examples of limitations within the domains. However, we recognize that there is a range of development and functioning, and that not all children within an age category are expected to be able to do all of the activities in the examples of typical functioning. We also recognize that limitations of any of the activities in the examples do not necessarily mean that a child has a “marked” or “extreme” limitation, as defined in paragraph (e) of this section. The domains we use are:
(i) Acquiring and using information;
(ii) Attending and completing tasks;
(iii) Interacting and relating with others;
(iv) Moving about and manipulating objects;
(v) Caring for yourself; and,
(vi) Health and physical well-being.
(2) When we evaluate your ability to function in each domain, we will ask for and consider information that will help us answer the following questions about whether your impairment(s) affects your functioning and whether your activities are typical of other children your age who do not have impairments.
(i) What activities are you able to perform?
(ii) What activities are you not able to perform?
(iii) Which of your activities are limited or restricted compared to other children your age who do not have impairments?
(iv) Where do you have difficulty with your activities-at home, in childcare, at school, or in the community?
(v) Do you have difficulty independently initiating, sustaining, or completing activities?
(vi) What kind of help do you need to do your activities, how much help do you need, and how often do you need it?
(3) We will try to get information from sources who can tell us about the effects of your impairment(s) and how you function. We will ask for information from your treating and other medical sources who have seen you and can give us their medical findings and opinions about your limitations and restrictions. We will also ask for information from your parents and teachers, and may ask for information from others who see you often and can describe your functioning at home, in childcare, at school, and in your community. We may also ask you to go to a consultative examination(s) at our expense. (See§§ 416.912-416.919a regarding medical evidence and when we will purchase a consultative examination.)
(c) The interactive and cumulative effects of an impairment or multiple impairments. When we evaluate your functioning and decide which domains may be affected by your impairment(s), we will look first at your activities and your limitations and restrictions. Any given activity may involve the integrated use of many abilities and skills; therefore, any single limitation may be the result of the interactive and cumulative effects of one or more impairments. And any given impairment may have effects in more than one domain; therefore, we will evaluate the limitations from your impairment(s) in any affected domain(s).
(d) How we will decide that your impairment(s) functionally equals the listings. We will decide that your impairment(s) functionally equals the listings if it is of listing-level severity. Your impairment(s) is of listing-level severity if you have “marked” limitations in two of the domains in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, or an “extreme” limitation in one domain. We will not compare your functioning to the requirements of any specific listing. We explain what the terms “marked” and “extreme” mean in paragraph (e) of this section. We explain how we use the domains in paragraph (f) of this section, and describe each domain in paragraphs (g)-(l). You must also meet the duration requirement. (See§ 416.909.)
(e) How we define “marked” and “extreme” limitations—
(1) General.
(i) When we decide whether you have a “marked” or an “extreme” limitation, we will consider your functional limitations resulting from all of your impairments, including their interactive and cumulative effects. We will consider all the relevant information in your case record that helps us determine your functioning, including your signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings, the descriptions we have about your functioning from your parents, teachers, and other people who know you, and the relevant factors explained in §§ 416.924a, 416.924b, and 416.929.
(ii) The medical evidence may include formal testing that provides information about your development or functioning in terms of percentiles, percentages of delay, or age or grade equivalents. Standard scores (e.g., percentiles) can be converted to standard deviations. When you have such scores, we will consider them together with the information we have about your functioning to determine whether you have a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in a domain.
(2) Marked limitation.
(i) We will find that you have a “marked” limitation in a domain when your impairment(s) interferes seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Your day-to-day functioning may be seriously limited when your impairment(s) limits only one activity or when the interactive and cumulative effects of your impairment(s) limit several activities. “Marked” limitation also means a limitation that is “more than moderate” but “less than extreme.” It is the equivalent of the functioning we would expect to find on standardized testing with scores that are at least two, but less than three, standard deviations below the mean.
(ii) If you have not attained age 3, we will generally find that you have a “marked” limitation if you are functioning at a level that is more than one-half but not more than two-thirds of your chronological age when there are no standard scores from standardized tests in your case record.
(iii) If you are a child of any age (birth to the attainment of age 18), we will find that you have a “marked” limitation when you have a valid score that is two standard deviations or more below the mean, but less than three standard deviations, on a comprehensive standardized test designed to measure ability or functioning in that domain, and your day-to-day functioning in domain-related activities is consistent with that score. (See paragraph (e)(4) of this section.)
(iv) For the sixth domain of functioning, “Health and physical well-being,” we may also consider you to have a “marked” limitation if you are frequently ill because of your impairment(s) or have frequent exacerbations of your impairment(s) that result in significant, documented symptoms or signs. For purposes of this domain, “frequent means that you have episodes of illness or exacerbations that occur on an average of 3 times a year, or once every 4 months, each lasting 2 weeks or more. We may also find that you have a “marked” limitation if you have episodes that occur more often than 3 times in a year or once every 4 months but do not last for 2 weeks, or occur less often than an average of 3 times a year or once every 4 months but last longer than 2 weeks, if the overall effect (based on the length of the episode(s) or its frequency) is equivalent in severity.
(3) Extreme limitation.
(i) We will find that you have an “extreme” limitation in a domain when your impairment(s) interferes very seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Your day-to-day functioning may be very seriously limited when your impairment(s) limits only one activity or when the interactive and cumulative effects of your impairment(s) limit several activities. “Extreme” limitation also means a limitation that is “more than marked.” “Extreme” limitation is the rating we give to the worst limitations. However, “extreme limitation” does not necessarily mean a total lack or loss of ability to function. It is the equivalent of the functioning we would expect to find on standardized testing with scores that are at least three standard deviations below the mean.
(ii) If you have not attained age 3, we will generally find that you have an “extreme” limitation if you are functioning at a level that is one-half of your chronological age or less when there are no standard scores from standardized tests in your case record.
(iii) If you are a child of any age (birth to the attainment of age 18), we will find that you have an “extreme” limitation when you have a valid score that is three standard deviations or more below the mean on a comprehensive standardized test designed to measure ability or functioning in that domain, and your day-to-day functioning in domain-related activities is consistent with that score. (See paragraph (e)(4) of this section.)
(iv) For the sixth domain of functioning, “Health and physical well-being,” we may also consider you to have an “extreme” limitation if you are frequently ill because of your impairment(s) or have frequent exacerbations of your impairment(s) that result in significant, documented symptoms or signs substantially in excess of the requirements for showing a “marked” limitation in paragraph (e)(2)(iv) of this section. However, if you have episodes of illness or exacerbations of your impairment(s) that we would rate as “extreme” under this definition, your impairment(s) should meet or medically equal the requirements of a listing in most cases. See§§ 416.925 and 416.926.
(4) How we will consider your test scores.
(i) As indicated in § 416.924a(a)(1)(ii), we will not rely on any test score alone. No single piece of information taken in isolation can establish whether you have a “marked” or an “extreme” limitation in a domain.
(ii) We will consider your test scores together with the other information we have about your functioning, including reports of classroom performance and the observations of school personnel and others.
(A) We may find that you have a “marked” or “extreme” limitation when you have a test score that is slightly higher than the level provided in paragraph (e)(2) or (e)(3) of this section, if other information in your case record shows that your functioning in day-to-day activities is seriously or very seriously limited because of your impairment(s). For example, you may have IQ scores above the level in paragraph (e)(2), but other evidence shows that your impairment(s) causes you to function in school, home, and the community far below your expected level of functioning based on this score.
(B) On the other hand, we may find that you do not have a “marked” or “extreme” limitation, even if your test scores are at the level provided in paragraph (e)(2) or (e)(3) of this section, if other information in your case record shows that your functioning in day-to-day activities is not seriously or very seriously limited by your impairment(s). For example, you may have a valid IQ score below the level in paragraph (e)(2), but other evidence shows that you have learned to drive a car, shop independently, and read books near your expected grade level.
(iii) If there is a material inconsistency between your test scores and other information in your case record, we will try to resolve it. The interpretation of the test is primarily the responsibility of the psychologist or other professional who administered the test. But it is also our responsibility to ensure that the evidence in your case is complete and consistent or that any material inconsistencies have been resolved. Therefore, we will use the following guidelines when we resolve concerns about your test scores:
(A) We may be able to resolve the inconsistency with the information we have. We may need to obtain additional information; e.g., by recontact with your medical source(s), by purchase of a consultative examination to provide further medical information, by recontact with a medical source who provided a consultative examination, or by questioning individuals familiar with your day-to-day functioning.
(B) Generally, we will not rely on a test score as a measurement of your functioning within a domain when the information we have about your functioning is the kind of information typically used by medical professionals to determine that the test results are not the best measure of your day-to-day functioning. When we do not rely on test scores, we will explain our reasons for doing so in your case record or in our decision.
(f) How we will use the domains to help us evaluate your functioning.
(1) When we consider whether you have “marked” or “extreme” limitations in any domain, we examine all the information we have in your case record about how your functioning is limited because of your impairment(s), and we compare your functioning to the typical functioning of children your age who do not have impairments.
(2) The general descriptions of each domain in paragraphs (g)-(l) help us decide whether you have limitations in any given domain and whether these limitations are “marked” or “extreme.”
(3) The domain descriptions also include examples of some activities typical of children in each age group and some functional limitations that we may consider. These examples also help us decide whether you have limitations in a domain because of your impairment(s). The examples are not all-inclusive, and we will not require our adjudicators to develop evidence about each specific example. When you have limitations in a given activity or activities in the examples, we may or may not decide that you have a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in the domain. We will consider the activities in which you are limited because of your impairment(s) and the extent of your limitations under the rules in paragraph (e) of this section. We will also consider all of the relevant provisions of §§ 416.924a, 416.924b, and 416.929.
(g) Acquiring and using information. In this domain, we consider how well you acquire or learn information, and how well you use the information you have learned.
(1) General.
(i) Learning and thinking begin at birth. You learn as you explore the world through sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. As you play, you acquire concepts and learn that people, things, and activities have names. This lets you understand symbols, which prepares you to use language for learning. Using the concepts and symbols you have acquired through play and learning experiences, you should be able to learn to read, write, do arithmetic, and understand and use new information.
(ii) Thinking is the application or use of information you have learned. It involves being able to perceive relationships, reason, and make logical choices. People think in different ways. When you think in pictures, you may solve a problem by watching and imitating what another person does. When you think in words, you may solve a problem by using language to talk your way through it. You must also be able to use language to think about the world and to understand others and express yourself; e.g., to follow directions, ask for information, or explain something.
(2) Age group descriptors—
(i) Newborns and young infants (birth to attainment of age 1). At this age, you should show interest in, and explore, your environment. At first, your actions are random; for example, when you accidentally touch the mobile over your crib. Eventually, your actions should become deliberate and purposeful, as when you shake noisemaking toys like a bell or rattle. You should begin to recognize, and then anticipate, routine situations and events, as when you grin with expectation at the sight of your stroller. You should also recognize and gradually attach meaning to everyday sounds, as when you hear the telephone or your name. Eventually, you should recognize and respond to familiar words, including family names and what your favorite toys and activities are called.
(ii) Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3). At this age, you are learning about the world around you. When you play, you should learn how objects go together in different ways. You should learn that by pretending, your actions can represent real things. This helps you understand that words represent things, and that words are simply symbols or names for toys, people, places, and activities. You should refer to yourself and things around you by pointing and eventually by naming. You should form concepts and solve simple problems through purposeful experimentation (e.g., taking toys apart), imitation, constructive play (e.g., building with blocks), and pretend play activities. You should begin to respond to increasingly complex instructions and questions, and to produce an increasing number of words and grammatically correct simple sentences and questions.
(iii) Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6). When you are old enough to go to preschool or kindergarten, you should begin to learn and use the skills that will help you to read and write and do arithmetic when you are older. For example, listening to stories, rhyming words, and matching letters are skills needed for learning to read. Counting, sorting shapes, and building with blocks are skills needed to learn math. Painting, coloring, copying shapes, and using scissors are some of the skills needed in learning to write. Using words to ask questions, give answers, follow directions, describe things, explain what you mean, and tell stories allows you to acquire and share knowledge and experience of the world around you. All of these are called “readiness skills,” and you should have them by the time you begin first grade.
(iv) School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12). When you are old enough to go to elementary and middle school, you should be able to learn to read, write, and do math, and discuss history and science. You will need to use these skills in academic situations to demonstrate what you have learned; e.g., by reading about various subjects and producing oral and written projects, solving mathematical problems, taking achievement tests, doing group work, and entering into class discussions. You will also need to use these skills in daily living situations at home and in the community (e.g., reading street signs, telling time, and making change). You should be able to use increasingly complex language (vocabulary and grammar) to share information and ideas with individuals or groups, by asking questions and expressing your own ideas, and by understanding and responding to the opinions of others.
(v) Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18). In middle and high school, you should continue to demonstrate what you have learned in academic assignments (e.g., composition, classroom discussion, and laboratory experiments). You should also be able to use what you have learned in daily living situations without assistance (e.g., going to the store, using the library, and using public transportation). You should be able to comprehend and express both simple and complex ideas, using increasingly complex language (vocabulary and grammar) in learning and daily living situations (e.g., to obtain and convey information and ideas). You should also learn to apply these skills in practical ways that will help you enter the workplace after you finish school (e.g., carrying out instructions, preparing a job application, or being interviewed by a potential employer).
(3) Examples of limited functioning in acquiring and using information. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You do not demonstrate understanding of words about space, size, or time; e.g., in/under, big/little, morning/night.
(ii) You cannot rhyme words or the sounds in words.
(iii) You have difficulty recalling important things you learnedin school yesterday.
(iv) You have difficulty solving mathematics questions or computing arithmetic answers.
(v) You talk only in short, simple sentences and have difficulty explaining what you mean.
(h) Attending and completing tasks. In this domain, we consider how well you are able to focus and maintain your attention, and how well you begin, carry through, and finish your activities, including the pace at which you perform activities and the ease with which you change them.
(1) General.
(i) Attention involves regulating your levels of alertness and initiating and maintaining concentration. It involves the ability to filter out distractions and to remain focused on an activity or task at a consistent level of performance. This means focusing long enough to initiate and complete an activity or task, and changing focus once it is completed. It also means that if you lose or change your focus in the middle of a task, you are able to return to the task without other people having to remind you frequently to finish it.
(ii) Adequate attention is needed to maintain physical and mental effort and concentration on an activity or task. Adequate attention permits you to think and reflect before starting or deciding to stop an activity. In other words, you are able to look ahead and predict the possible outcomes of your actions before you act. Focusing your attention allows you to attempt tasks at an appropriate pace. It also helps you determine the time needed to finish a task within an appropriate timeframe.
(2) Age group descriptors—
(i) Newborns and young infants (birth to attainment of age 1). You should begin at birth to show sensitivity to your environment by responding to various stimuli (e.g., light, touch, temperature, movement). Very soon, you should be able to fix your gaze on a human face. You should stop your activity when you hear voices or sounds around you. Next, you should begin to attend to and follow various moving objects with your gaze, including people or toys. You should be listening to your family's conversations for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, as you are able to move around and explore your environment, you should begin to play with people and toys for longer periods of time. You will still want to change activities frequently, but your interest in continuing interaction or a game should gradually expand.
(ii) Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3). At this age, you should be able to attend to things that interest you and have adequate attention to complete some tasks by yourself. As a toddler, you should demonstrate sustained attention, such as when looking at picture books, listening to stories, or building with blocks, and when helping to put on your clothes.
(iii) Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6). As a preschooler, you should be able to pay attention when you are spoken to directly, sustain attention to your play and learning activities, and concentrate on activities like putting puzzles together or completing art projects. You should also be able to focus long enough to do many more things by yourself, such as getting your clothes together and dressing yourself, feeding yourself, or putting away your toys. You should usually be able to wait your turn and to change your activity when a caregiver or teacher says it is time to do something else.
(iv) School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12). When you are of school age, you should be able to focus your attention in a variety of situations in order to follow directions, remember and organize your school materials, and complete classroom and homework assignments. You should be able to concentrate on details and not make careless mistakes in your work (beyond what would be expected in other children your age who do not have impairments). You should be able to change your activities or routines without distracting yourself or others, and stay on task and in place when appropriate. You should be able to sustain your attention well enough to participate in group sports, read by yourself, and complete family chores. You should also be able to complete a transition task (e.g., be ready for the school bus, change clothes after gym, change classrooms) without extra reminders and accommodation.
(v) Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18). In your later years of school, you should be able to pay attention to increasingly longer presentations and discussions, maintain your concentration while reading textbooks, and independently plan and complete long-range academic projects. You should also be able to organize your materials and to plan your time in order to complete school tasks and assignments. In anticipation of entering the workplace, you should be able to maintain your attention on a task for extended periods of time, and not be unduly distracted by your peers or unduly distracting to them in a school or work setting.
(3) Examples of limited functioning in attending and completing tasks. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You are easily startled, distracted, or overreactive to sounds, sights, movements, or touch.
(ii) You are slow to focus on, or fail to complete activities of interest to you, e.g., games or art projects.
(iii) You repeatedly become sidetracked from your activities or you frequently interrupt others.
(iv) You are easily frustrated and give up on tasks, including ones you are capable of completing.
(v) You require extra supervision to keep you engaged in an activity.
(i) Interacting and relating with others. In this domain, we consider how well you initiate and sustain emotional connections with others, develop and use the language of your community, cooperate with others, comply with rules, respond to criticism, and respect and take care of the possessions of others.
(1) General.
(i) Interacting means initiating and responding to exchanges with other people, for practical or social purposes. You interact with others by using facial expressions, gestures, actions, or words. You may interact with another person only once, as when asking a stranger for directions, or many times, as when describing your day at school to your parents. You may interact with people one-at-a-time, as when you are listening to another student in the hallway at school, or in groups, as when you are playing with others.
(ii) Relating to other people means forming intimate relationships with family members and with friends who are your age, and sustaining them over time. You may relate to individuals, such as your siblings, parents or best friend, or to groups, such as other children in childcare, your friends in school, teammates in sports activities, or people in your neighborhood.
(iii) Interacting and relating require you to respond appropriately to a variety of emotional and behavioral cues. You must be able to speak intelligibly and fluently so that others can understand you; participate in verbal turntaking and nonverbal exchanges; consider others' feelings and points of view; follow social rules for interaction and conversation; and respond to others appropriately and meaningfully.
(iv) Your activities at home or school or in your community may involve playing, learning, and working cooperatively with other children, one-at-a-time or in groups; joining voluntarily in activities with the other children in your school or community; and responding to persons in authority (e.g., your parent, teacher, bus driver, coach, or employer).
(2) Age group descriptors—
(i) Newborns and young infants (birth to attainment of age 1). You should begin to form intimate relationships at birth by gradually responding visually and vocally to your caregiver(s), through mutual gaze and vocal exchanges, and by physically molding your body to the caregiver's while being held. You should eventually initiate give-and-take games (such as pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo) with your caregivers, and begin to affect others through your own purposeful behavior (e.g., gestures and vocalizations). You should be able to respond to a variety of emotions (e.g., facial expressions and vocal tone changes). You should begin to develop speech by using vowel sounds and later consonants, first alone, and then in babbling.
(ii) Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3). At this age, you are dependent upon your caregivers, but should begin to separate from them. You should be able to express emotions and respond to the feelings of others. You should begin initiating and maintaining interactions with adults, but also show interest in, then play alongside, and eventually interact with other children your age. You should be able to spontaneously communicate your wishes or needs, first by using gestures, and eventually by speaking words clearly enough that people who know you can understand what you say most of the time.
(iii) Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6). At this age, you should be able to socialize with children as well as adults. You should begin to prefer playmates your own age and start to develop friendships with children who are your age. You should be able to use words instead of actions to express yourself, and also be better able to share, show affection, and offer to help. You should be able to relate to caregivers with increasing independence, choose your own friends, and play cooperatively with other children, one-at-a-time or in a group, without continual adult supervision. You should be able to initiate and participate in conversations, using increasingly complex vocabulary and grammar, and speaking clearly enough that both familiar and unfamiliar listeners can understand what you say most of the time.
(iv) School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12). When you enter school, you should be able to develop more lasting friendships with children who are your age. You should begin to understand how to work in groups to create projects and solve problems. You should have an increasing ability to understand another's point of view and to tolerate differences. You should be well able to talk to people of all ages, to share ideas, tell stories, and to speak in a manner that both familiar and unfamiliar listeners readily understand.
(v) Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18). By the time you reach adolescence, you should be able to initiate and develop friendships with children who are your age and to relate appropriately to other children and adults, both individually and in groups. You should begin to be able to solve conflicts between yourself and peers or family members or adults outside your family. You should recognize that there are different social rules for you and your friends and for acquaintances or adults. You should be able to intelligibly express your feelings, ask for assistance in getting your needs met, seek information, describe events, and tell stories, in all kinds of environments (e.g., home, classroom, sports, extra-curricular activities, or part-time job), and with all types of people (e.g., parents, siblings, friends, classmates, teachers, employers, and strangers).
(3) Examples of limited functioning in interacting and relating with others. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You do not reach out to be picked up and held by your caregiver.
(ii) You have no close friends, or your friends are all older or younger than you.
(iii) You avoid or withdraw from people you know, or you are overly anxious or fearful of meeting new people or trying new experiences.
(iv) You have difficulty playing games or sports with rules.
(v) You have difficulty communicating with others; e.g., in using verbal and nonverbal skills to express yourself, carrying on a conversation, or in asking others for assistance.
(vi) You have difficulty speaking intelligibly or with adequate fluency.
(j) Moving about and manipulating objects. In this domain, we consider how you move your body from one place to another and how you move and manipulate things. These are called gross and fine motor skills.
(1) General.
(i) Moving your body involves several different kinds of actions: Rolling your body; rising or pulling yourself from a sitting to a standing position; pushing yourself up; raising your head, arms, and legs, and twisting your hands and feet; balancing your weight on your legs and feet; shifting your weight while sitting or standing; transferring yourself from one surface to another; lowering yourself to or toward the floor as when bending, kneeling, stooping, or crouching; moving yourself forward and backward in space as when crawling, walking, or running, and negotiating different terrains (e.g., curbs, steps, and hills).
(ii) Moving and manipulating things involves several different kinds of actions: Engaging your upper and lower body to push, pull, lift, or carry objects from one place to another; controlling your shoulders, arms, and hands to hold or transfer objects; coordinating your eyes and hands to manipulate small objects or parts of objects.
(iii) These actions require varying degrees of strength, coordination, dexterity, pace, and physical ability to persist at the task. They also require a sense of where your body is and how it moves in space; the integration of sensory input with motor output; and the capacity to plan, remember, and execute controlled motor movements.
(2) Age group descriptors—
(i) Newborns and infants (birth to attainment of age 1). At birth, you should begin to explore your world by moving your body and by using your limbs. You should learn to hold your head up, sit, crawl, and stand, and sometimes hold onto a stable object and stand actively for brief periods. You should begin to practice your developing eye-hand control by reaching for objects or picking up small objects and dropping them into containers.
(ii) Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3). At this age, you should begin to explore actively a wide area of your physical environment, using your body with steadily increasing control and independence from others. You should begin to walk and run without assistance, and climb with increasing skill. You should frequently try to manipulate small objects and to use your hands to do or get something that you want or need. Your improved motor skills should enable you to play with small blocks, scribble with crayons, and feed yourself.
(iii) Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6). As a preschooler, you should be able to walk and run with ease. Your gross motor skills should let you climb stairs and playground equipment with little supervision, and let you play more independently; e.g., you should be able to swing by yourself and may start learning to ride a tricycle. Your fine motor skills should also be developing. You should be able to complete puzzles easily, string beads, and build with an assortment of blocks. You should be showing increasing control of crayons, markers, and small pieces in board games, and should be able to cut with scissors independently and manipulate buttons and other fasteners.
(iv) School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12). As a school-age child, your developing gross motor skills should let you move at an efficient pace about your school, home, and neighborhood. Your increasing strength and coordination should expand your ability to enjoy a variety of physical activities, such as running and jumping, and throwing, kicking, catching and hitting balls in informal play or organized sports. Your developing fine motor skills should enable you to do things like use many kitchen and household tools independently, use scissors, and write.
(v) Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18). As an adolescent, you should be able to use your motor skills freely and easily to get about your school, the neighborhood, and the community. You should be able to participate in a full range of individual and group physical fitness activities. You should show mature skills in activities requiring eye-hand coordination, and should have the fine motor skills needed to write efficiently or type on a keyboard.
(3) Examples of limited functioning in moving about and manipulating objects. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You experience muscle weakness, joint stiffness, or sensory loss (e.g., spasticity, hypotonia, neuropathy, or paresthesia) that interferes with your motor activities (e.g., you unintentionally drop things).
(ii) You have trouble climbing up and down stairs, or have jerky or disorganized locomotion or difficulty with your balance.
(iii) You have difficulty coordinating gross motor movements (e.g., bending, kneeling, crawling, running, jumping rope, or riding a bike).
(iv) You have difficulty with sequencing hand or finger movements.
(v) You have difficulty with fine motor movement (e.g., gripping or grasping objects).
(vi) You have poor eye-hand coordination when using a pencil or scissors.
(k) Caring for yourself. In this domain, we consider how well you maintain a healthy emotional and physical state, including how well you get your physical and emotional wants and needs met in appropriate ways; how you cope with stress and changes in your environment; and whether you take care of your own health, possessions, and living area.
(1) General.
(i) Caring for yourself effectively, which includes regulating yourself, depends upon your ability to respond to changes in your emotions and the daily demands of your environment to help yourself and cooperate with others in taking care of your personal needs, health and safety. It is characterized by a sense of independence and competence. The effort to become independent and competent should be observable throughout your childhood.
(ii) Caring for yourself effectively means becoming increasingly independent in making and following your own decisions. This entails relying on your own abilities and skills, and displaying consistent judgment about the consequences of caring for yourself. As you mature, using and testing your own judgment helps you develop confidence in your independence and competence. Caring for yourself includes using your independence and competence to meet your physical needs, such as feeding, dressing, toileting, and bathing, appropriately for your age.
(iii) Caring for yourself effectively requires you to have a basic understanding of your body, including its normal functioning, and of your physical and emotional needs. To meet these needs successfully, you must employ effective coping strategies, appropriate to your age, to identify and regulate your feelings, thoughts, urges, and intentions. Such strategies are based on taking responsibility for getting your needs met in an appropriate and satisfactory manner.
(iv) Caring for yourself means recognizing when you are ill, following recommended treatment, taking medication as prescribed, following safety rules, responding to your circumstances in safe and appropriate ways, making decisions that do not endanger yourself, and knowing when to ask for help from others.
(2) Age group descriptors—
(i) Newborns and infants (birth to attainment of age 1. Your sense of independence and competence begins in being able to recognize your body's signals (e.g., hunger, pain, discomfort), to alert your caregiver to your needs (e.g., by crying), and to console yourself (e.g., by sucking on your hand) until help comes. As you mature, your capacity for self-consolation should expand to include rhythmic behaviors (e.g., rocking). Your need for a sense of competence also emerges in things you try to do for yourself, perhaps before you are ready to do them, as when insisting on putting food in your mouth and refusing your caregiver's help.
(ii) Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3). As you grow, you should be trying to do more things for yourself that increase your sense of independence and competence in your environment. You might console yourself by carrying a favorite blanket with you everywhere. You should be learning to cooperate with your caregivers when they take care of your physical needs, but you should also want to show what you can do; e.g., pointing to the bathroom, pulling off your coat. You should be experimenting with your independence by showing some degree of contrariness (e.g., “No! No!”) and identity (e.g., hoarding your toys).
(iii) Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6). You should want to take care of many of your physical needs by yourself (e.g., putting on your shoes, getting a snack), and also want to try doing some things that you cannot do fully (e.g., tying your shoes, climbing on a chair to reach something up high, taking a bath). Early in this age range, it may be easy for you to agree to do what your caregiver asks. Later, that may be difficult for you because you want to do things your way or not at all. These changes usually mean that you are more confident about your ideas and what you are able to do. You should also begin to understand how to control behaviors that are not good for you (e.g., crossing the street without an adult).
(iv) School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12). You should be independent in most day-to-day activities (e.g., dressing yourself, bathing yourself), although you may still need to be reminded sometimes to do these routinely. You should begin to recognize that you are competent in doing some activities and that you have difficulty with others. You should be able to identify those circumstances when you feel good about yourself and when you feel bad. You should begin to develop understanding of what is right and wrong, and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. You should begin to demonstrate consistent control over your behavior, and you should be able to avoid behaviors that are unsafe or otherwise not good for you. You should begin to imitate more of the behavior of adults you know.
(v) Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18). You should feel more independent from others and should be increasingly independent in all of your day-to-day activities. You may sometimes experience confusion in the way you feel about yourself. You should begin to notice significant changes in your body's development, and this can result in anxiety or worrying about yourself and your body. Sometimes these worries can make you feel angry or frustrated. You should begin to discover appropriate ways to express your feelings, both good and bad (e.g., keeping a diary to sort out angry feelings or listening to music to calm yourself down). You should begin to think seriously about your future plans, and what you will do when you finish school.
(3) Examples of limited functioning in caring for yourself. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You continue to place non-nutritive or inedible objects in your mouth.
(ii) You often use self-soothing activities showing developmental regression (e.g., thumbsucking, re-chewing food), or you have restrictive or stereotyped mannerisms (e.g., body rocking, headbanging).
(iii) You do not dress or bathe yourself appropriately for your age because you have an impairment(s) that affects this domain.
(iv) You engage in self-injurious behavior (e.g., suicidal thoughts or actions, self-inflicted injury, or refusal to take your medication), or you ignore safety rules.
(v) You do not spontaneously pursue enjoyable activities or interests.
(vi) You have disturbance in eating or sleeping patterns.
(l) Health and physical well-being. In this domain, we consider the cumulative physical effects of physical or mental impairments and their associated treatments or therapies on your functioning that we did not consider in paragraph (j) of this section. When your physical impairment(s), your mental impairment(s), or your combination of physical and mental impairments has physical effects that cause “extreme” limitation in your functioning, you will generally have an impairment(s) that “meets” or “medically equals” a listing.
(1) A physical or mental disorder may have physical effects that vary in kind and intensity, and may make it difficult for you to perform your activities independently or effectively. You may experience problems such as generalized weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, reduced stamina, fatigue, psychomotor retardation, allergic reactions, recurrent infection, poor growth, bladder or bowel incontinence, or local or generalized pain.
(2) In addition, the medications you take (e.g., for asthma or depression) or the treatments you receive (e.g., chemotherapy or multiple surgeries) may have physical effects that also limit your performance of activities.
(3) Your illness may be chronic with stable symptoms, or episodic with periods of worsening and improvement. We will consider how you function during periods of worsening and how often and for how long these periods occur. You may be medically fragile and need intensive medical care to maintain your level of health and physical well-being. In any case, as a result of the illness itself, the medications or treatment you receive, or both, you may experience physical effects that interfere with your functioning in any or all of your activities.
(4) Examples of limitations in health and physical well-being. The following examples describe some limitations we may consider in this domain. Your limitations may be different from the ones listed here. Also, the examples do not necessarily describe a “marked” or “extreme” limitation. Whether an example applies in your case may depend on your age and developmental stage; e.g., an example below may describe a limitation in an older child, but not a limitation in a younger one. As in any case, your limitations must result from your medically determinable impairment(s). However, we will consider all of the relevant information in your case record when we decide whether your medically determinable impairment(s) results in a “marked” or “extreme” limitation in this domain.
(i) You have generalized symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, agitation (e.g., excitability), lethargy (e.g., fatigue or loss of energy or stamina), or psychomotor retardation because of your impairment(s).
(ii) You have somatic complaints related to your impairments (e.g., seizure or convulsive activity, headaches, incontinence, recurrent infections, allergies, changes in weight or eating habits, stomach discomfort, nausea, headaches, or insomnia).
(iii) You have limitations in your physical functioning because of your treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, chelation, pulmonary cleansing, or nebulizer treatments).
(iv) You have exacerbations from one impairment or a combination of impairments that interfere with your physical functioning.
(v) You are medically fragile and need intensive medical care to maintain your level of health and physical well-being.
(m) Examples of impairments that functionally equal the listings. The following are some examples of impairments and limitations that functionally equal the listings. Findings of equivalence based on the disabling functional limitations of a child's impairment(s) are not limited to the examples in this paragraph, because these examples do not describe all possible effects of impairments that might be found to functionally equal the listings. As with any disabling impairment, the duration requirement must also be met (see§§ 416.909 and 416.924(a)).
(1) Documented need for major organ transplant (e.g., liver).
(2) Any condition that is disabling at the time of onset, requiring continuing surgical management within 12 months after onset as a life-saving measure or for salvage or restoration of function, and such major function is not restored or is not expected to be restored within 12 months after onset of this condition.
(3) Effective ambulation possible only with obligatory bilateral upper limb assistance.
(4) Any physical impairment(s) or combination of physical and mental impairments causing complete inability to function independently outside the area of one's home within age-appropriate norms.
(5) Requirement for 24-hour-a-day supervision for medical (including psychological) reasons.
(6) Infants weighing less than 1200 grams at birth, until attainment of 1 year of age.
(7) Infants weighing at least 1200 but less than 2000 grams at birth, and who are small for gestational age, until attainment of 1 year of age. (Small for gestational age means a birth weight that is at or more than 2 standard deviations below the mean or that is below the 3rd growth percentile for the gestational age of the infant.)
(8) Major congenital organ dysfunction which could be expected to result in death within the first year of life without surgical correction, and the impairment is expected to be disabling (because of residual impairment following surgery, or the recovery time required, or both) until attainment of 1 year of age.
(n) Responsibility for determining functional equivalence. In cases where the State agency or other designee of the Commissioner makes the initial or reconsideration disability determination, a State agency medical or psychological consultant or other designee of the Commissioner (see§ 416.1016 of this part) has the overall responsibility for determining functional equivalence. For cases in the disability hearing process or otherwise decided by a disability hearing officer, the responsibility for determining functional equivalence rests with either the disability hearing officer or, if the disability hearing officer's reconsideration determination is changed under § 416.1418 of this part, with the Associate Commissioner for Disability Programs or his or her delegate. For cases at the administrative law judge or Appeals Council level, the responsibility for deciding functional equivalence rests with the administrative law judge or Appeals Council.
[62 FR 6424, Feb. 11, 1997; 62 FR 13538, 13733, Mar. 21, 1997, as amended at 65 FR 54782, Sept. 11, 2000; 65 FR 80308, Dec. 21, 2000; 66 FR 58045, Nov. 19, 2001; 71 FR 16460, Mar. 31, 2006; 72 FR 59431, Oct. 19, 2007; 76 FR 24811, May 3, 2011]

Title 20 published on 2012-04-01

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  • 2014-08-28; vol. 79 # 167 - Thursday, August 28, 2014
    1. 79 FR 51241 - Extension of the Expiration Date for State Disability Examiner Authority To Make Fully Favorable Quick Disability Determinations and Compassionate Allowances
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      SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
      Final rule.
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Title 20 published on 2012-04-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 20 CFR 416 after this date.

  • 2014-08-28; vol. 79 # 167 - Thursday, August 28, 2014
    1. 79 FR 51241 - Extension of the Expiration Date for State Disability Examiner Authority To Make Fully Favorable Quick Disability Determinations and Compassionate Allowances
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
      Final rule.
      This final rule is effective August 28, 2014.
      20 CFR Parts 404 and 416