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Childhood SSI and the Domain of Caring for Yourself

     Parents applying for childhood SSI benefits are often confused by how the Social Security Administration evaluates the claim. The SSA looks at the child's functioning in terms of six domains. This entry dealing with Caring for Yourself and is the fifth in a series discussing domains of function. In this domain, SSA considers how well someone maintains a healthy emotional and physical state, including how well she gets her physical and emotional wants and needs met in appropriate ways; coping with sress and changes in environemtn; and whether she takes care of her own health, possessions, and living area.

     Caring for yourself effectively 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. It includes becoming increasingly independent in making and following your own decisions, as well as having a basic understanding of your body, including its normal functioning, and of your physical and emotional needs.

     Newborns and infants sense of independence and competence begins in being able to recognize the body's signals, to alert the caregiver of needs.

     Older infants and toddlers should be trying to do more things for oneself that increase the sense of independence and competence in the environment. 

    Preschool children should want to take care of many of their physical needs, and also want to try doing some things that they cannot do fully (e.g., tying your shoes, taking a bath).

     School-age children should be independent in most day-to-day activities (e.g., dressing yourself, bathing yourself), although they may still need to be reminded sometimes to do these routinely.

     Adolescents should feel more independent from others and should be increasingly independent in all day-to-day activities. They may sometimes experience confusion in the way they feel about themselves.  

Examples of limited functioning in caring for yourself:

  • You continue to place non-nutritive or inedible objects in your mouth.
  • You often use self-soothing activities showing developmental regression, or you have restrictive or stereotyped mannerisms.
  • You do not dress or bathe yourself appropriately for your age because you have an impairment(s) that affects this domain.
  • You engage in self-injurious behavior, or you ignore safety rules.

     If you need more information about a Social Security Disability/SSI, personal injury, EEOICPA, 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 or through our website. Our office handles claims throughout Tennessee.

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