Domains of Functioning for Children

March 29, 2018
Dayes Law Firm

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that disabilities affect children differently than adults. With adults, a primary consideration for awarding benefits is whether an impairment prevents a person from working. Since children are not yet working-age, the SSA evaluates how an impairment affects their ability to function in different areas or domains.

These domains include how a child applies information, completes tasks, interacts with others and more. If a child suffers an impairment that is equal to the level of severity of an impairment found in the SSA’s Blue Book, he or she may qualify for Supplemental Security Income for children.

For help with your child’s disability application or gathering the information to prove his or her claim, contact the trusted disability attorneys at Dayes Law Firm PC for a free consultation.

Levels of Domain Functioning

In order to meet the requirements of a Blue Book listing, the child must have a severe limitation in two or more of the domains of functioning or an extreme limitation in one domain.

A severe limitation is one that severely interferes with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain or complete activities.

An extreme limitation is one that very seriously interferes with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain or complete activities related to a domain of functioning.

Different Types of Domains

The SSA has six different domains of functioning used for evaluating children, including the following:

Acquiring and Using Information

This domain centers upon how well a child is able to learn and acquire information and then how well he or she is able to apply this information. As children develop, they should acquire skills in communication, literacy, reasoning and arithmetic. These skills should continue to develop and progress throughout the child’s life.

A marked or extreme limitation may exist if the child:

  • Does not understand how things relate through size, space or time
  • Cannot rhyme words
  • Has difficulty retaining information about important concepts
  • Has problems solving simple arithmetic problems
  • Has difficulty explaining things and speaks primarily in concise sentences

Attending and Completing Tasks

This domain centers on the child’s ability to focus and keep attention on a task. This focuses on the child’s ability to start a task, continue it and complete it at a normal pace based on his or her age. While children may get distracted, they should be able to retain focus on a given task. It is important that a child be able to follow instructions and complete assignments in a timely manner.

A marked or extreme limitation may be present in the following situations:

  • A child is easily distracted or overreacts to sensory impulses
  • A child has trouble focusing on a task or cannot finish an activity
  • A child easily becomes frustrated, causing him or her to give up on tasks
  • A child requires extra supervision to stay engaged with an activity
  • A child often interrupts others or is sidetracked from his or her activity

Interacting and Relating with Others

A child is expected to interact well with his or her peers, follow rules and respond to authority. He or she should be able to develop personal relationships with others, such as parents, peers and teachers. He or she should also know that there are social rules and laws that regulate behavior and should be able to comply with them.

A severe or extreme limitation may be present when a child:

  • Does not have close friends of the same age
  • Avoids contact with others, including those whom he or she intimately knows
  • Does not reach out to his or her parents to be picked up
  • Has problems following rules for age-based activities like sports or board games
  • Struggles with expressing emotions, maintaining a conversation or requesting help
  • Experiences difficulties with sufficient fluency when speaking

Moving About and Manipulating Objects

This domain is focused on the use of gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve moving your arms and legs and are used on activities like crawling and running. Fine motor skills are used for smaller movements, such as the movement of your fingers or toes. They are used on activities like grasping and writing.

A marked or extreme limitation may be present if the child:

  • Has sensory loss, joint stiffness or muscle weakness
  • Has problems coordinating gross or fine motor movement
  • Has problems maintaining balance or climbing stairs
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination when using utensils or tools

Caring for Self

A child should be able to take care of himself or herself as he or she ages. Children learn how to take care of their own personal needs, health and safety as they get older and mature. This domain also explores how a child deals with changes in his or her environment.

A severe or extreme limitation may be present when the child:

  • Tries to eat inedible items
  • Is unable to bathe or dress himself or herself, based on age
  • Has regressive behaviors
  • Does not try to entertain himself or herself
  • Does not follow safety rules
  • Has problems eating or sleeping

Health and Physical Well-Being

This domain considers the physical effects of a child’s impairment and treatment. A marked or severe limitation may be present if the child:

  • Requires intensive medical treatment to maintain his or her health and well-being
  • Suffers from physical limitations due to medication or treatment
  • Has other physical manifestations, such as agitation, lethargy, dizziness or weakness

Contact a Lawyer for Help

It can be difficult to prove the requirements necessary for your child to qualify for benefits. A disability lawyer is experienced in all aspects of the claims process. We can gather medical evidence to support your child’s claim and present a clear picture regarding the extent of his or her impairment.

All claims are pursued on a contingency fee basis, so there is no risk in contacting us to explore your legal options. Schedule a free consultation today.

Call 1-800-503-2000 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form.