If you’re wondering if your disability qualifies under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), understanding the basics is a good place to start. Knowing how to properly define your condition under the ADA will allow you to better understand your rights and protections under the law, and hopefully help you get the benefits you’re entitled to.
The ADA definition of disability is written in legal terms, rather than being considered from a medical perspective. Since the basis of the ADA’s definition of disability is legal, it’s different from the Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) definitions.
ADA definition of disabilities:
The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on his or her association with a person with a disability. For example, the ADA also outlaws discrimination against those with a disability in government services, public accommodations, private employers, labor organizations, and labor-management committees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not provide a definitive list of medical conditions that are automatically considered ADA disabilities. On the other hand, some of the most common physical and mental impairments typically covered under the ADA include:
The law does not consider mitigating measures when determining whether a particular impairment is an ADA disability. For instance, medication, therapy, or other steps that an individual takes to help manage and control symptoms are not part of the qualification process under the ADA.
Under the ADA, impairments must be considered physiological or mental disorders. For example, impairments that aren’t covered under this definition of ADA disability include:
On the other hand, depression and stress can count as impairments, but only if the depression or stress results from a documented mental or physiological disorder. If they are the consequence of personal life or job pressures, or if they limit at least one major life activity, they may not.
The same can be said of drug use; if there’s a history of illegal drug use present that may have contributed to symptoms, or if illegal drugs are used to cope with a disability, individuals will not be protected by the ADA.
Mental illnesses are typically used in a medical context to refer to conditions related to mental and emotional health. However, mental ADA disabilities are typically used in a legal or policy context to refer to impairments covered under the ADA. For instance, when individuals have a mental health condition that meets the general definition of a disability under the ADA, they may qualify for coverage under the ADA.
Some of the most common mental ADA disabilities covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act include:
Furthermore, mental disorders that affect one’s ability to think, learn, concentrate, sleep, communicate, or impact major life activities are recognized under the ADA. However, these impairments are frequently defined by disordered or impaired brain function.
Applicants with mental or psychiatric disabilities are granted certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act; foremost among these is the right to privacy. It’s up to an employee as to whether or not they share their disability with their employer, but in the event that they do, they’re entitled to reasonable accommodations to make working in conjunction with their disability easier.
The definition of mental impairment under the ADA includes any emotional or mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders. For example, the following anxiety disorders:
However, if you have general anxiety while working, or have an anxious personality, it does not automatically qualify you for coverage under the ADA. To rise to the level of a disability, your anxiety must substantially limit one or more of your major life activities such as learning, thinking, speaking, or general interaction with others.
ADA protection isn’t something that you apply for, it’s a series of rights offered by the law. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers covered by the ADA include:
Simply stated: If you have an eligible disability and are qualified to do a job, you are protected by the ADA from discrimination on the basis of your disability.
If you feel that your rights under the ADA have been violated, whether through failure to provide reasonable accommodation or through discrimination on the basis of your disability, you may have a lawsuit on your hands.
The Department of Justice ADA information line answers questions about Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and is available to businesses, state and local governments, and the public. You can call 1- 800-514-0301 (TTY: 1-800-514-0383) to talk to a representative to see if you qualify for ADA protection.
An attorney experienced in disability cases is bound to be one of the most helpful resources to have on your team. Navigating the legal and technical aspects of a case can be tricky, and most employers will fight disability lawsuits to the best of their ability.
At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz L.P.A., our attorneys specialize in disability cases in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. We understand just how frustrating it can be to deal with the court system when all you need is help. We’ll work together with you to make sure you’re armed with the information you need, and ultimately get you the benefits that you deserve. Get in touch today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
– First, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities or bodily functions.
– Second, a record of impairment, even if it isn’t classified as a medical disability.
– Finally, an individual who does not have a medical disability, but is regarded as having a disability.
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