Question: What is the definition of a disability? How does the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act define whether a disability prevents someone from being able to Work?
Response: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) adopts the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1975, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) definition of disability. The three prong definition of disability is defined as:
– Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual (prong 1);
– A Record of such an impairment (prong 2); and
– Being regarded as having such an impairment (prong 3).
To clarify the terms in this definition the follow phrases are also defined.
- The phrase physical or mental impairment means:
- any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems; neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine;
- any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
- The phrase physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such contagious and noncontagious diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, specific learning disabilities, HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism. The phrase “physical or mental impairment” does not include homosexuality or bisexuality.
- The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
- The phrase has a record of such an impairment means has a history of, or has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment” that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- The phrase is regarded as having an impairment means:
- has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but that is treated by the recipient as being such a limitation;
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward such impairment; or
- has none of the impairments but is treated by the recipient as having such as impairment.
The use of “recipient” is this defined in 29 CFR 37.4, and includes State and Local Workforce Development Boards, one-stop operators, service providers, Job Corp contractors, and sub-recipients, as well as other types of individuals and entities.
Disabilities must be self-identified by the applicant. Once an applicant has identified that he or she has a disability, the LWDA must request documentation of the disability for income calculations for eligibility purposes, where required in the WIOA Title I-B Youth Program Policy, and for data validation purposes.
Resources: Youth Program policyThe acceptable verification and documentation for a disability is located on the WIOA Title I-B Eligibility Checklist, which is located in the Exhibits section of the WIOA Policy and Procedure Manual-Chapter 2.