Fair Housing Act Definition of Disability

Art: Robin Mead

Where do these rules apply?

  • Accommodations for exceptions to housing policies – Yes!
  • Accommodations for deadlines, communications, meetings – Yes!
  • Accommodations for moving, porting, transferring – Yes!
  • Accommodations for building modifications – Yes
  • Requests for Live in Aides – Yes!
  • All Other Reasonable Accommodation Request – Yes!
  • Disability discrimination – Yes!
  • Medical Expense Deductions – No!  Different Rules
  • Applying for “Elderly” or “Disabled” building – No!  Different Rules
  • Income deduction for disabled family – No! Different Rules
  • Applying for disability preference on wait lists – No!  Different Rules

“I’m On Disability”

If you are already on Social Security disability, you are definitely going to be considered disabled by HUD. No need to read this page!

“I’m Not On Disability”

You do not need to be on disability to be considered disabled by HUD. You can work full time and still be considered disabled under the Fair Housing Act.

The disabled person can be an adult or a child. If your child is disabled, you can make an accommodation request on their behalf.

Fair Housing Act Definition of Disability

Here’s how The Fair Housing Act defines disabled:

🌸 “Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.”

🌸 “In general, a physical or mental impairment includes hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

🌸 “Major life activities include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning, performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself.”

How Do I Prove That I Meet This Definition?

All you need is a letter from your doctor or medical professional that includes the sentence “This person meets the definition of disabled under the Fair Housing Act.” Or if you have a reasonable accommodation form, your doctor can just sign that.

Some doctors think being “disabled” means you have to be using a wheelchair or not working. If your doctor doesn’t know what the Fair Housing Act definition is, here’s something you can print and bring: Print and Bring: Fair Housing Act

You do not need to prove to your landlord or Housing agency that you are disabled. If your doctor or provider writes that you are disabled, this is all that is needed.

For simple accommodation requests, some housing agencies will accept your word if you just tell them you are disabled. For example, “Because of my disability, I cannot come into your office to fill out that form. Could you please email or mail it to me instead?” Some agencies will require further paperwork, but many will simply grant this request.

Am I “Substantially Limited in One or More Major Life Activities”? 

If you have a chronic illness, you may be wondering if you meet this definition. Many people with severe chronic illness would be considered substantially limited in “caring for oneself.” If your impairments make eating, bathing, or dressing difficult, your doctor may find that you meet the Fair Housing Act definition.

Many people would also be considered having “mobility impairments.” You do not need to be in a wheelchair. If your chronic illness makes walking or standing difficult or causes symptoms, your doctor may find that you meet the Fair Housing Act definition.

If your illness makes it difficult to perform physical activities such as bending, lifting and grasping, you might also fall into the criteria for impaired in “performing manual tasks”.

If your illness does not fit into one of the categories above, you may still qualify if it substantially limits one or more major life activities.

When writing a letter for you, your doctor does not need to disclose your diagnosis or symptoms. Your doctor needs to confirm that you meet the definition, and to provide information on what disability limitations you have that make you need this accommodation.

Is Drug and Alcohol Addiction a Disability?

Sometimes. Is Drug and Alcohol Addiction a Disability?

Tools for Troublemakers

How to Request Disability Accommodations in HUD Housing

Disability Support & Self Advocacy in HUD & Section 8 Housing

The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

Thanks for Reading

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

1 thought on “Fair Housing Act Definition of Disability”

  1. My daughter lives with me her name is Kellan Kay Bruce!
    She is 38 year old and she is disabled since birth has always lived with me!
    She did not get any kind of stimulus check? Will she be eligible for any stimulus check!


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