What Is Considered Disability – Overview
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not include a list of conditions that are considered as disabilities under the Act.
A disabled person is considered someone who has a mental or physical impairment that significantly restricts one or more of their daily life routines or if a person has a record of such an impairment, including being considered as having said disability.
According to regulations, disability is defined as mental or physical impairment. This may include any physiological condition or disorder, anatomical loss of one or multiple body systems, aesthetic disfigurement, etc.
Anatomical loss of body systems may include loss of function in reproductive, respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, digestive, immune, circulatory, hemic, skin, endocrine, lymphatic or genitourinary systems.
The regulations also include mental impairments and disorders as disability, such as intellectual disability, emotional or mental illness, organic brain syndrome, and specific learning disabilities.
List of Conditions Considered Disability Under ADA
As mentioned above, the ADA does not have an exhaustive list of disabilities. However, the regulations do identify medical conditions that are virtually considered disabilities under the meaning of the law.
The following are the medical conditions and disorders that are considered a disability under ADA provisions:
- Intellectual disabilities
- Partial/completely missing limbs
- Mobility impairments (requiring the use of a wheelchair)
- Cerebral palsy
- HIV infection
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Major depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
Additionally, the ADA defines specific conditions that are not considered to be a disability or impairment under the law, which are excluded from disability coverage.
According to the ADA regulations, the following health conditions and disorders are not considered Impairments/Disabilities:
- Bisexuality or homosexuality
- Compulsive gambling
- Sexual behavior disorders
- Physical characteristics (such as eye color, hair color, etc.)
- Common personality traits
- Psychoactive substance abuse disorder resulting from illegal use of drugs
- Gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments
5 Factors for Determining Disability Under ADA Regulations
If you can work enough to qualify for disability benefits, the ADA uses a step-by-step process. It involves five questions that help the authorities to determine if a person has a qualifying disability.
The five questions that ADA considers the answers to before determining disability qualification are:
1 – Are you working?
The ADA usually uses earnings guidelines to check if a person’s work activity is substantial gainful activity (SGA).
For instance, if you are working in the current year and earn an average of US$ 1,350 a month, you are not generally considered to have a disability.
On the other hand, if a person is not working, or they are working but not at par with SGA standards, then the ADA will send them an application to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) office, which will review their documented medical condition. The DDS, in turn, will use the following four questions to determine disability.
2 – Is your condition severe?
A person whose physical or mental impairment is significantly limited to doing basic work-related activities (standing, walking, sitting, lifting, or remembering) for a minimum of 12 months is generally considered as being disabled under ADA regulations. If not, the ADA will find you not having a qualifying disability.
In contrast, if your mental or physical condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, the ADA will ask question no. 3.
3 – Is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions?
The ADA has a list of medical conditions pertaining to each of the major body systems. These are considered severe enough to prevent a person from doing SGA.
If your condition is not on the list, the ADA will decide if it is a severe medical condition. If your condition is found to be severe, then the ADA will classify your disability. If not, then the ADA will ask question no. 4.
4 – Can you do the work you did previously?
This question helps the ADA to determine if your medical impairment or impairments keep you from performing any of your past work. If it does not prevent you from performing your previous work responsibilities, then the ADA will determine that you do not qualify for disability.
If the condition prevents you from working as you did previously, then they will move to consider the answer to question no. 5.
5 – Can you do other types of work?
If a person cannot do the work they did previously, then the ADA will check if there is any other type of work they can do, despite their impairment.
The ADA will consider the person’s age, medical conditions, education, past work experience and any transferrable skills that the person may have.
If the person cannot do any other work, then the ADA will determine whether the person is qualified, disabled and eligible for disability benefits.
On the other hand, if the person can do other work, then the ADA will decide that the person does not qualify as being disabled and their disability claim will be denied.
The ADA uses highly specific standards to determine mental and physical disabilities. These are considered before a person is classified as eligible to receive disability benefits. To know more about disabilities and the different medical and health conditions included in the definition, we recommend you consult your physician or doctor.