§ 416.924b. Age as a factor of evaluation in the sequential evaluation process for children.

(a) General. In this section, we explain how we consider age when we decide whether you are disabled. Your age may or may not be a factor in our determination whether your impairment(s) meets or medically equals a listing, depending on the listing we use for comparison. However, your age is an important factor when we decide whether your impairment(s) is severe (see § 416.924(c)) and whether it functionally equals the listings (see § 416.926a). Except in the case of certain premature infants, as described in paragraph (b) of this section, age means chronological age.

(1) When we determine whether you have an impairment or combination of impairments that is severe, we will compare your functioning to that of children your age who do not have impairments.

(2) When we determine whether your impairment(s) meets a listing, we may or may not need to consider your age. The listings describe impairments that we consider of such significance that they are presumed to cause marked and severe functional limitations.

(i) If the listing appropriate for evaluating your impairment is divided into specific age categories, we will evaluate your impairment according to your age when we decide whether your impairment meets that listing.

(ii) If the listing appropriate for evaluating your impairment does not include specific age categories, we will decide whether your impairment meets the listing without giving consideration to your age.

(3) When we compare an unlisted impairment or a combination of impairments with the listings to determine whether it medically equals the severity of a listing, the way we consider your age will depend on the listing we use for comparison. We will use the same principles for considering your age as in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) and (a)(2)(ii) of this section; that is, we will consider your age only if we are comparing your impairment(s) to a listing that includes specific age categories.

(4) We will also consider your age and whether it affects your ability to be tested. If your impairment(s) is not amenable to formal testing because of your age, we will consider all information in your case record that helps us decide whether you are disabled. We will consider other generally acceptable methods consistent with the prevailing state of medical knowledge and clinical practice that will help us evaluate the existence and severity of your impairment(s).

(b) Correcting chronological age of premature infants. We generally use chronological age (that is, a child's age based on birth date) when we decide whether, or the extent to which, a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments causes functional limitations. However, if you were born prematurely, we may consider you to be younger than your chronological age. When we evaluate the development or linear growth of a child born prematurely, we may use a “corrected” chronological age; that is, the chronological age adjusted by a period of gestational prematurity. We consider an infant born at less than 37 weeks' gestation to be born prematurely.

(1) We apply a corrected chronological age in these situations—

(i) When we evaluate developmental delay in premature children until the child's prematurity is no longer a relevant factor; generally no later than about chronological age 2 (see paragraph (b)(2) of this section);

(ii) When we evaluate an impairment of linear growth, such as under the listings in § 100.00 in appendix 1 of subpart P of part 404 of this chapter, until the child is 12 months old. In this situation, we refer to neonatal growth charts which have been developed to evaluate growth in premature infants (see paragraph (b)(2) of this section).

(2) We compute a corrected chronological age as follows—

(i) If you have not attained age 1, we will correct your chronological age. We compute the corrected chronological age by subtracting the number of weeks of prematurity (i.e., the difference between 40 weeks of full-term gestation and the number of actual weeks of gestation) from your chronological age. The result is your corrected chronological age.

(ii) If you are over age 1, have a developmental delay, and prematurity is still a relevant factor in your case (generally, no later than about chronological age 2), we will decide whether to correct your chronological age. Our decision will be based on our judgment and all the facts of your case. If we decide to correct your chronological age, we may correct it by subtracting the full number of weeks of prematurity or a lesser number of weeks. We will also decide not to correct your chronological age if we can determine from the evidence that your developmental delay is the result of your medically determinable impairment(s) and is not attributable to your prematurity.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, we will not compute a corrected chronological age if the medical evidence shows that your treating source or other medical source has already taken your prematurity into consideration in his or her assessment of your development. Also, we will not compute a corrected chronological age when we find you disabled using the examples of functional equivalence based on low birth weight in § 416.926a(m)(6) or (7).

[65 FR 54778, Sept. 11, 2000, as amended at 72 FR 59431, Oct. 19, 2007]