Am I disabled?

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In this blog we will explore what counts as a disability and try to answer the question “Am I disabled?”

We will also explore what is disability and what are the criterias for disability in major countries such as the US and the UK. 

Am I disabled?

To answer the question of whether you are disabled or meet the criteria for disability differs according to the laws of your country that check for the disability of its citizens that are applicable to claim disability benefits. 

If you meet the criteria for disability according to state and country laws, you will go through the process of verification where various government agencies and departments will examine your claims that are failed by you and have yo go through various assessments, including a medical one, to check whether you are diabilied or meet the criteria for disability. 

Let us take a closer look at what disability is and understand what are the various criterias for disability in the US and the UK. 

What is disability?

According to the CDC,

“…disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).” (Centre for disease control and prevention)

According to this board definition, a person is designable when they have been affected by a physical or mental condition that impairs their ability to do certain activities- for example, taking care of themselves, feeding themselves- and limit their ability to frutifully engage with the world around them- in terms of employment and childcare. 

Some of the disabilities that the CDC highlights include:

  • Vision
  • Movement
  • Thinking
  • Remembering
  • Learning
  • Communicating
  • Hearing
  • Mental health
  • Social relationships

According to the WHO, disability involves three aspects:

  • There is Impairment in a person’s body structure or function, or mental functioning like loss of a limb, and inability to remember due to memory loss and dementia. 
  • Limitations in activity, such as difficulty seeing or problem solving.
  • Restrictions Of participation  in normal daily activities, such as working, engaging in social activities. (WHO)

Another definition of disability has been put forward by the American Disability act though it is more of a legal term. 

The ADA defines a person with a disability as

“… a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” (American disability Act. 1990)

According to the ADA, the definition include:

  • People who have a record of such an impairment in the past as well. 
  • Individuals who do not have a disability that is actively affecting them but are regarded as having a disability. 

What are the criterias for disability in the US and the UK?

The question of whether you are diabled or not can be discerned in terms of whether you meet the criteria for disability according to state and government laws that make you eligible for benefits related to disability. 

In the UK

The Equality Act of 2010 provides a broad definition of disability that covers the following conditions:

  • you have a physical or mental impairment
  • that impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities (Equality Act, 2010)

This act also protects the following conditions and considers them under the term of disability:

  • cancer, including skin growths that are cancerous.
  • a visual impairment irrespective of degree of impairment
  • multiple sclerosis
  • an HIV infection even without symptoms
  • a severe, long-term disfigurement 

The act also includes impairment- both physical and mental abilities- that reduce your functioning which may or may not be a disposable medical condition but has substantial and long-term adverse effects on your ability to carry out day-to-day activities can be covered under this law.

The Equality act also listed out some conditions that are not considered as disabilities. These include:

  • hay fever
  • tattoos or piercings
  • voyeurism or exhibitionism
  • a tendency to set fire to things- pyromania
  • a tendency to steal things-Kleptomania
  • a tendency to physically or sexually abuse others
  • Addictions to substances, uness the addiction causes impairment such as liver disease or depression caused by alcohol dependency.

The law also considered impairments a disability even when the impairments are not long term- meaning that they come and go or the sym0toms fluctuate as look as there is substantial impact on your day to day activities such as:

  • It takes you longer to do every task such as getting dressed, going to the toilet or preparing meals because of pain.
  • You find it difficult to go out on your own because of a phobia, physical restriction or learning disability
  • You are unable to concentrate on watching TV or reading a newspaper because of mental health issues
  • You find it difficult to talk to people and avoiding socialising because you have mental conditions that make you unable understand what people mean
  • You have seizures 
  • being unable to read a book without an aid because of a learning impairment (Equality Act, 2010)

The law also covers conditions that are worsening. Meaning that even if the impairment at the present is not as limiting and its effects not substantial;- if there is potential for the effects to worsen and become substantial in the future it is considered aprogressive condition that is protected by law 

In the US

In the US, the Social Security Administration has a very strict definition of “disability.” 

To be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the US, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You cannot perform your occupation that you previously held due to the condition.
  • You cannot adjust to work in other roles and opportunities because of your medical condition(s).
  • Your medical condition(s) must last or be expected to last for at least one year and/or to result in death.
  • Also, a child under age 18 will be considered disabled if he or she has a medically diagnosable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations- such as inability to study, work, take care of their needs, etc.

For the SSA for a person to be considered disabilities they must be affected by a condition that is medically determinable which means that the condition should result from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be validated by clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 

If you are unable to work because of a medical condition, in the US you may qualify for disability benefits from the SSA and the SSA uses the medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine eligibility for the benefits. 

The Blue Book is the major source with which the criteria for eligibility is determined and it has sections for different body systems and each section has listings for disabling conditions with criteria for each listing that must be met for a claimant to qualify.

According to the SSA, there are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits, these include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Spinal disorders
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hearing and vision loss
  • Organ transplants
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Mental disorders. 

To claim benefits, individuals will need to provide hard medical evidence to support their claim to prove that they meet the criteria while also having their conditions determinable medically. 

It is to be mentioned that different conditions have different criteria that must be met. For example, if you have asthma, you will need to provide treatment proof, provide breathing test results, and show how the condition has affected your ability to work and function.


In this blog we have explored what counts as a disability and try to answer the question “Am I disabled?”

We have also explored what is disability and what are the criterias for disability in major countries such as the US and the UK. 

FAQ related to am I disabled?

How do you know if you’re disabled?

To determine whether you are diabled or meet the criteria for disability, you have to meet the criteria for disability according to the laws of your country that check for the disability of its citizens that are applicable to claim disability benefits. 

Disability generally involves an inability to perform work or gainful activity that is caused by “medically determinable” physical or mental impairments which have lasted or will last at least 12 months, or will likely cause death.

What is a list of disabilities?

Common Disabilities that are recognized in almost every country include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning Disabilities.
  • Mobility Disabilities.
  • Medical Disabilities.
  • Psychiatric Disabilities.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Visual Impairments.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

What diagnosis automatically qualifies you for disability?

Neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injuries are disorders which upon diagnosis is considered a disability and qualifies the individual for benefit claims. 

Is being overweight a disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists obesity as a complex and chronic condition due to excessive body fat. However that alone won’t qualify you for disability benefits unless your condition causes impairments in your functioning.

How hard is it to get a disability?

It is very hard to get disability benefits because the governing bodies such as SSA take the claim very seriously to avoid fraud and to get people who actually need the benefits the sport they need, 

Approximately 70% of initial SSDI claims are denied every year because of the strict protocol and verifying process. 

What should you not say in a disability interview?

A few things to avoid mentioning in disability interviews and assessment unless asked include:

  • Family members who are receiving disability or unemployment benefits.
  • Criminal history.
  • Drugs or alcohol issues along with other substances
  • Noncompliance to doctor’s orders or treatment plans.


What counts as disability. Citizens Advice. 22nd February 2020. Retrieved on 4th January 2022.

What is the definition of disability under the ADA? NationalNetwork. Retrieved on 4th January 2022.

Disability and Health Overview. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on 4th January 2022.

Disability Evaluation Under Social Security. Social Security Administration. Retrieved on 4th January 2022.

How does the SSA define “disability”? Disability benefits help. Retrieved on 4th January 2022.

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