The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              CONTACT:   Claire Gonzales
February 12, 1997                             Reginald Welch
                                              (202) 663-4900
                                              TDD:   (202) 663-4494


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today advised that representations made in connection with an application for disability benefits should not be an automatic bar to a claim under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Commission clarified its position by issuing Enforcement Guidance on the Effect of Representations Made in Applications for Disability Benefits on the Determination of Whether a Person Is a "Qualified Individual with a Disability" Under the ADA.

EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas said, "The guidance addresses a significant and recurring issue on which the Commission has filed several amicus briefs. It clarifies why a person may be able to meet the eligibility requirements for disability benefits and still be a ‘qualified individual with a disability' for ADA purposes."

The guidance explains that the ADA's purposes and standards are fundamentally different from those of other disability benefits programs such as social security, workers' compensation, and disability insurance. Because of these differences, the guidance explains, representations made in connection with an application for benefits may be relevant to, but not determinative of, whether a person is a "qualified individual with a disability" under the ADA. The guidance emphasizes that, when assessing whether a person who has applied for disability benefits is a "qualified individual with a disability," it is crucial to consider all the relevant evidence, including:

The guidance further explains that public policy supports the conclusion that representations made in other contexts about the ability to work should not be an absolute bar to bringing an ADA claim.

Along with enforcing Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments, EEOC also enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; prohibitions against discrimination affecting individuals with disabilities in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

This page was last modified on February 12, 1997.

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