What is the first of the six “Functional Domains”?
The first domain is “Acquiring and using information”. This domain considers how well a child is able to acquire or learn information, and how well a child uses the information she has learned (20 CFR 416.926a(g)).
The regulations provide that a preschooler (i.e., a child age 3 to attainment of age 6) without an impairment should begin to learn and use the skills that will help her to read and write and do arithmetic when she is older. For example, listening to stories, rhyming words, and matching letters are skills needed for learning to read. Counting, sorting shapes, and building with blocks are skills needed to learn math. Painting, coloring, copying shapes, and using scissors are some of the skills needed in learning to write. Using words to ask questions, give answers, follow directions, describe things, explain what she means, and tell stories allows the child to acquire and share knowledge and experience of the world around her. All of these are called “readiness skills” and the child should have them by the time she beings first grade (20 CFR 416.926a(g)(2)(iii)).
The regulations provide that a school-age child (i.e., a child age 6 to the attainment of age 12) without an impairment should be able to learn to read, write, and do math, and discuss history and science. The child will need to use these skills in academic situations to demonstrate what she has learned by reading about various subjects and producing oral and written projects, solving mathematical problems, taking achievement tests, doing group work, and entering into class discussions. The child will also need to use these skills in daily living situations at home and in the community (e.g., reading street signs, telling times, and making change). The child should be able to use increasingly complex language (vocabulary and grammar) to share information and ideas with individuals or groups, by asking questions and expressing her own ideas, and by understanding and responding to the opinions of others (20 CFR 416.926a(g)(2)(iv)).
Social Security regulation 20 CFR 416.926a(g)(3) sets forth some examples of limited functioning in this domain that children of different ages might have. The examples do not apply to a child of a particular age; rather, they cover a range of ages and developmental periods. In addition, the examples do not necessarily describe “marked” or “extreme” limitation in the domain. Some examples of difficulty children could have in acquiring and using information are: (i) does not understand words about space, size, or time (e.g., in/under, big/little, morning/night); (ii) cannot rhyme words or the sounds in words; (iii) has difficulty recalling important things learned in school yesterday; (iv) has difficulty solving mathematics questions or computing arithmetic answers; or (v) talks only in short, simple sentences, and has difficulty explaining what she means.
If the claimant has no limitation in acquiring and using information, the claimant would normally be in a regular classroom setting with no difficulty shown.