Childhood SSI Benefits for Dysfunction of Joints

     Children suffering from musculoskeletal problems may qualify for Childhood SSI benefits.  Childhood SSI claims are evaluated differently than adult claims for Social Security Disability or SSI.  The requirements are actually more stringent.  If the child is not working and has “severe” impairments, the Social Security Administration determines whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the criteria of a listing, or that functionally equals the listings.  If the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets, medically equals or functionally equals the listings, and it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, he is presumed to be disabled.

     101.02 Major dysfunction of a joint(s) (due to any cause): Characterized by gross anatomical deformity (e.g., subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, instability) and chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joint(s), and findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging of joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis of the affected joint(s). With:

A. Involvement of one major peripheral weight-bearing joint (i.e., hip, knee, or ankle), resulting in inability to ambulate effectively;

or

B. Involvement of one major peripheral joint in each upper extremity (i.e., shoulder, elbow, or wrist-hand), resulting in inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively.

     Inability to ambulate effectively means an extreme limitation of the ability to walk; i.e., an impairment that interferes very seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Ineffective ambulation is defined generally as having insufficient lower extremity functioning to permit independent ambulation without the use of a hand-held assistive device(s) that limits the functioning of both upper extremities. 

     For children who are too young to be expected to walk independently, consideration of function must be based on assessment of limitations in the ability to perform comparable age-appropriate activities with the lower extremities, given normal developmental expectations. For such children, an extreme level of limitation means skills or performance at no greater than one-half of age-appropriate expectations based on an overall developmental assessment rather than on one or two isolated skills.

     Older children, who would be expected to be able to walk when compared to other children the same age who do not have impairments, must be capable of sustaining a reasonable walking pace over a sufficient distance to be able to carry out age-appropriate activities. They must have the ability to travel age-appropriately without extraordinary assistance to and from school or a place of employment.

     Therefore, examples of ineffective ambulation for older children include, but are not limited to, the inability to walk without the use of a walker, two crutches or two canes, the inability to walk a block at a reasonable pace on rough or uneven surfaces, the inability to use standard public transportation, the inability to carry out age-appropriate school activities independently, and the inability to climb a few steps at a reasonable pace with the use of a single hand rail. The ability to walk independently about the child’s home or a short distance at school without the use of assistive devices does not, in and of itself, constitute effective ambulation.

     Inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively means an extreme loss of function of both upper extremities; i.e., an impairment that interferes very seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. To use their upper extremities effectively, a child must be capable of sustaining such functions as reaching, pushing, pulling, grasping, and fingering in an age-appropriate manner to be able to carry out age-appropriate activities.

     For very young children, we consider limitations in the ability to perform comparable age-appropriate activities involving the upper extremities compared to the ability of children the same age who do not have impairments. For such children, an extreme level of limitation means skills or performance at no greater than one-half of age-appropriate expectations based on an overall developmental assessment.

     For older children, examples of inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively include, but are not limited to, the inability to prepare a simple meal and feed oneself, the inability to take care of personal hygiene, or the inability to sort and handle papers or files, depending upon which activities are age-appropriate.

      If the Listing cannot be proven, the claim can still be won if an impairment or combination of impairments functionally equals the listings and one must assess the claimant’s functioning in terms of six domains: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for yourself; and (6) health and physical well-being. In making this assessment, one must compare how appropriately, effectively and independently the claimant performs activities compared to the performance of other children of the same age who do not have impairments. To functionally equal the listings, the claimant’s impairment or combination of impairments must result in “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one domain.

     If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI matter, personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), EEOICPA claim, long or short-term disability, VA disability, Railroad Retirement Board disability, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation.  We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611, through Facebook, or through our website.  Our office handles claims throughout East Tennessee, including Knoxville, ChattanoogaKingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Morristown, Maryville, Rogersville, Dandridge, Tazewell, New Tazewell, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Loudon, Kingston, Halls, Maynardville, Crossville, Cookeville, Jamestown, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Athens, Oak Ridge, Clinton, LaFollette, Lake City, Jacksboro, Bean Station, Cosby, Newport, White Pine, Mosheim, Wartburg, Sunbright, Pigeon Forge, and Deer Lodge.

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About farmerdreiser

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser provide comprehensive representation to injured victims throughout eastern Tennessee in personal injury, Social Security disability, and workers' compensation cases.
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