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Loss of Function

  1. General. Under this section, loss of function may be due to bone or joint deformity or destruction from any cause; miscellaneous disorders of the spine with or without radiculopathy or other neurological deficits; amputation; or fractures or soft tissue injuries, including burns, requiring prolonged periods of immobility or convalescence. For inflammatory arthritides that may result in loss of function because of inflammatory peripheral joint or axial arthritis or sequelae, or because of extra-articular features, see 114.00B6. Impairments with neurological causes are to be evaluated under 111.00ff.
  2. How we define loss of function in these listings.
    1. General. Regardless of the cause(s) of a musculoskeletal impairment, functional loss for purposes of these listings is defined as the inability to ambulate effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, including pain associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment, or the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively on a sustained basis for any reason, including pain associated with the underlying musculoskeletal impairment. The inability to ambulate effectively or the inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least 12 months. For the purposes of these criteria, consideration of the ability to perform these activities must be from a physical standpoint alone. When there is an inability to perform these activities due to a mental impairment, the criteria in 112.00ff are to be used. We will determine whether an individual can ambulate effectively or can perform fine and gross movements effectively based on the medical and other evidence in the case record, generally without developing additional evidence about the individual's ability to perform the specific activities listed as examples in 101.00B2b(2) and (3) and 101.00B2c(2) and (3).
    2. What we mean by inability to ambulate effectively.
      1. Definition. Inability to ambulate effectively means an extreme limitation of the ability to walk; i.e., an impairment(s) that interferes very seriously with the individual's ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Ineffective ambulation is defined generally as having insufficient lower extremity functioning (see 101.00J) to permit independent ambulation without the use of a hand-held assistive device(s) that limits the functioning of both upper extremities. (Listing 101.05C is an exception to this general definition because the individual has the use of only one upper extremity due to amputation of a hand.)
      2. How we assess inability to ambulate effectively for children too young to be expected to walk independently. 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.
      3. How we assess inability to ambulate effectively for older children. 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.
    3. What we mean by inability to perform fine and gross movements effectively.
      1. Definition. 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.
      2. How we assess inability to perform fine and gross movements in very young children. 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.
      3. How we assess inability to perform fine and gross movements in older children. 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.
    4. Pain or other symptoms. Pain or other symptoms may be an important factor contributing to functional loss. In order for pain or other symptoms to be found to affect an individual's ability to perform basic work activities, medical signs or laboratory findings must show the existence of a medically determinable impairment(s) that could reasonably be expected to produce the pain or other symptoms. The musculoskeletal listings that include pain or other symptoms among their criteria also include criteria for limitations in functioning as a result of the listed impairment, including limitations caused by pain. It is, therefore, important to evaluate the intensity and persistence of such pain or other symptoms carefully in order to determine their impact on the child's functioning under these listings. See also §§ 404.1525(f) and 404.1529 of this part, and §§ 416.925(f) and 416.929 of part 416 of this chapter.

Diagnosis and Evaluation

  1. General. Diagnosis and evaluation of musculoskeletal impairments should be supported, as applicable, by detailed descriptions of the joints, including ranges of motion, condition of the musculature (e.g., weakness, atrophy), sensory or reflex changes, circulatory deficits, and laboratory findings, including findings on x-ray or other appropriate medically acceptable imaging. Medically acceptable imaging includes, but is not limited to, x-ray imaging, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), with or without contrast material, myelography, and radionuclear bone scans. "Appropriate" means that the technique used is the proper one to support the evaluation and diagnosis of the impairment.
  2. Purchase of certain medically acceptable imaging. While any appropriate medically acceptable imaging is useful in establishing the diagnosis of musculoskeletal impairments, some tests, such as CAT scans and MRIs, are quite expensive, and we will not routinely purchase them. Some, such as myelograms, are invasive and may involve significant risk. We will not order such tests. However, when the results of any of these tests are part of the existing evidence in the case record we will consider them together with the other relevant evidence.
  3. Consideration of electrodiagnostic procedures. Electrodiagnostic procedures may be useful in establishing the clinical diagnosis, but do not constitute alternative criteria to the requirements of 101.04.

Physical Examination

The physical examination must include a detailed description of the rheumatological, orthopedic, neurological, and other findings appropriate to the specific impairment being evaluated. These physical findings must be determined on the basis of objective observation during the examination and not simply a report of the individual's allegation; e.g., "He says his leg is weak, numb." Alternative testing methods should be used to verify the abnormal findings; e.g., a seated straight-leg raising test in addition to a supine straight-leg raising test. Because abnormal physical findings may be intermittent, their presence over a period of time must be established by a record of ongoing management and evaluation. Care must be taken to ascertain that the reported examination findings are consistent with the child's age and activities.

Examination of the Spine

  1. General. Examination of the spine should include a detailed description of gait, range of motion of the spine given quantitatively in degrees from the vertical position (zero degrees) or, for straight-leg raising from the sitting and supine position (zero degrees), any other appropriate tension signs, motor and sensory abnormalities, muscle spasm, when present, and deep tendon reflexes. Observations of the child during the examination should be reported; e.g., how he or she gets on and off the examination table.

    Inability to walk on the heels or toes, to squat, or to arise from a squatting position, when appropriate, may be considered evidence of significant motor loss. However, a report of atrophy is not acceptable as evidence of significant motor loss without circumferential measurements of both thighs and lower legs, or both upper and lower arms, as appropriate, at a stated point above and below the knee or elbow given in inches or centimeters. Additionally, a report of atrophy should be accompanied by measurement of the strength of the muscle(s) in question generally based on a grading system of 0 to 5, with 0 being complete loss of strength and 5 being maximum strength. A specific description of atrophy of hand muscles is acceptable without measurements of atrophy but should include measurements of grip and pinch strength. However, because of the unreliability of such measurement in younger children, these data are not applicable to children under 5 years of age.
  2. When neurological abnormalities persist. Neurological abnormalities may not completely subside after treatment or with the passage of time. Therefore, residual neurological abnormalities that persist after it has been determined clinically or by direct surgical or other observation that the ongoing or progressive condition is no longer present will not satisfy the required findings in 101.04. More serious neurological deficits (paraparesis, paraplegia) are to be evaluated under the criteria in 111.00ff.

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(248) 549-3485
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Call Social Security Professionals now to discuss your claim for free

You need no money to hire Attorney Donald H. Peters

(248) 549-3485
FREE CONSULTATION

Southfield Lawyer Donald Peters of the Law Office of Donald H. Peters, P.C. in Southfield, Michigan, handles Social Security Disability claims throughout Michigan and in the Tri-County Metro Detroit area including Detroit, Southfield, Novi, Warren, Royal Oak, Roseville, Livonia, Mount Clemens, Sterling Heights, Farmington Hills, Birmingham, Berkley, Oak Park, West Bloomfield, Ann Arbor, Eastpointe, Waterford, Flint, Canton, Taylor, Romulus, Westland, Clinton Township, Troy, Dearborn, Brighton, Howell, Pontiac, Rochester Hills,  as well as Wayne County, Oakland County, Macomb County, Ingham County, and Livingston County, Michigan.

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