Albuquerque Social Security Lawyer on Disability assessments in New Mexico children’s SSI cases
Your Albuquerque Social Security Lawyer will tell you that New Mexico children under the age of 18 may qualify for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSI program is a federal program that provides benefits to needy disabled children and adults. A child must satisfy both financial need requirements and medical disability requirements to be eligible.
When is a child “disabled” under SSI rules in New Mexico
A child under the age of 18 who applies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is “disabled” if the child:
- Is not engaged in substantial gainful activity and
- Has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that
- Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or result in death and
- Results in “marked and severe functional limitations.”
This means that the child’s impairment must meet or medically equal a listing in the Listing of Impairments (the listings), or functionally equal the listings (also referred to as “functional equivalence”). For each major body system, the listings describe medical conditions the Social Security Administration considers severe enough to cause “marked and severe functional limitations.”
Functional equivalence in New Mexico children’s SSI cases
If a child’s impairment does not meet or medically equal a listing, a functional equivalence assessment is necessary. Many children’s cases require this type of assessment. The Social Security Administration looks at how the child functions compared to children of the same age who do not have impairments. The Social Security Administration considers what activities the child cannot do, has difficulty doing, needs help doing, or is restricted from doing because of the impairment.
The Social Security Administration evaluates the effects of a child’s impairment on activities by rating the degree to which the impairment limits the child’s functioning in six “domains.” The six domains are:
- Acquiring and using information,
- Attending and completing tasks,
- Interacting and relating with others,
- Moving about and manipulating objects,
- Caring for oneself, and
- Health and physical well-being.
To functionally equal the listings, an impairment must result in “marked” limitations in two domains of functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one domain.
Evidence needed in New Mexico children’s SSI cases
Evidence of a child’s functioning can come from a wide variety of sources. The Social Security Administration will consider all of the relevant evidence it receives about a child’s functioning to understand how the impairment affects the child’s day-to-day activities.
Acceptable medical sources. First, the Social Security Administration needs evidence from an acceptable medical source that establishes that the child has at least one medically determinable impairment. Acceptable medical sources are a physician (a medical or osteopathic doctor), psychologist (including a school psychologist), podiatrist, optometrist, and qualified speech-language pathologist.
In addition to evidence that a child has a medically determinable impairment, acceptable medical sources can provide information about how the impairment affects the child’s everyday activities. For example, a pediatrician might discuss the impact of asthma on a child’s participation in physical activities, or a speech-language pathologist might discuss how a language disorder contributes to limited attention and problems in school.
Other medical sources. The Social Security Administration will not accept evidence from medical sources who are not “acceptable medical sources” to establish that a child has a medically determinable impairment. However, it does use evidence from these sources, such as nurse-practitioners, physicians’ assistants, chiropractors, audiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and psychiatric social workers, to determine the severity of the impairment and how it affects the child’s ability to function compared to children of the same age who do not have impairments. For example:
- A psychiatric social worker might comment on the child’s ability to handle stressful situations.
- An occupational or physical therapist may evaluate the impact of a musculoskeletal disorder on the child’s activities and comment on muscle tone and strength and how it affects the child’s ability to walk with a brace.
- An occupational therapist might comment on the child’s ability to use motor skills to get dressed without assistance.
Non-medical sources. Evidence from other sources who know your child can also be very important to establishing the severity of your child’s impairment and how it affects day-to-day functioning. These sources include parents and caregivers, educational personnel (for example, teachers, early intervention team members, counselors, developmental center workers, and daycare center workers), public and private social welfare agency personnel, and others (for example, siblings, friends, neighbors, and clergy).
An Albuquerque New Mexico SSI attorney can assist with children’s SSI cases
If you are the parent or guardian of a seriously disabled child, and are not already represented by an Albuquerque Social Security lawyer, I am available to help. Please give me a brief description of your claim using the form to the right. Or you may contact me at:
Albuquerque Social Security Lawyer
6301 Indian School Road NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110