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Disability & HR: Tips for Human Resource Professionals

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Disability Nondiscrimination Regulations

Disability Nondiscrimination Regulations

Definition of Disability Under the ADA: A Practical Overview and Update


Sheila D. Duston

About the author(s):

an attorney-mediator practicing in the Washington, DC metropolitan area


September, 2001

(The following is an excerpt from the above listed information. We have added underscoring.)

What is a Major Life Activity?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated in its ADA regulations and other guidance documents that major life activities include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, sleeping and mental/emotional processes such as thinking, concentrating and interacting with others. In litigation, the EEOC has also argued that eating and elimination are major life activities.

Overall, there has been a lot of litigation examining what constitutes a major life activity. Courts have generally, but not always agreed with the EEOC�s listed activities and have also addressed other major life activities that the EEOC has not previously articulated. At the highest level, in a case involving asymstomatic HIV infection, the Supreme Court found that the individual had a disability, holding that reproduction is a major life activity. The Court noted that an activity does not have to have a public, economic, or daily dimension to be a major life activity. The Supreme Court has also noted in passing that running is a major life activity.





[Only notice date of the �Plan_Final.5-25-04.pdf as being May 26, 2004] 

Final Plan Documents

The following documents represent the various agreements reached between the Tort Claimants' Committee and Dow Corning Corporation in the Dow Corning Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. These documents were signed and became final on June 1, 2004, the Effective Date of the Plan, and are the controlling documents that describe the rights of claimants including tort claimants.

  • Plan_Final.5-26-04.pdf - Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization of Dow Corning Corporation -- This document summarizes the terms and classes of claimants in the Plan of Reorganization for Dow Corning Corporation.
  • FPA_5-26-04.pdf - Funding Payment Agreement -- This document details the obligations of Dow Corning to fund the Settlement Facility - Dow Corning Trust for claimants in classes 5 through 19.
  • Assignment_and_Security_Agm.pdf - Assignment and Security Agreement Between Dow Corning Corporation and the Depository Trust -- This document details the security agreement on insurance funds that are to be paid into the Settlement Facility - Dow Corning Trust.
  • DTA_Final_5-28-04.pdf - Depository Trust Agreement -- This document establishes the trust account to hold and receive funds received pursuant to the Funding Payment Agreement and will disburse payments to claimants pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Facility Agreement and Annex A (described below).
  • Settlement_Facility_Agmt.pdf - Settlement Facility and Fund Distribution Agreement -- This document describes the overall structure and financial management for the Settlement Facility - Dow Corning Trust and generally summarizes the settlement options and payment processes for tort claimants (except for Canadian claimants in Classes 6A, 6B and 6C).
  • Annex_A_to_SFA_Final.5-26-.pdf - Annex A to the Settlement Facility Agreement, Claims Resolution Procedures -- This document describes in detail the settlement options for tort claimants and lists the specific criteria needed to qualify for compensation. It also contains detailed product identification protocols and medical criteria and symptoms.
  • Annex_B_to_SFA.pdf
  • Case Management Order #1 - This Order of the United States District Court describes the actions that must be taken by persons who opt-out of the Settlement Option to pursue a lawsuit in court.




(We have added color or underscoring for emphasis.) 


Social Security Online

Disability Planner



What We Mean By Disability

The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs.

Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.

Disability under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). Your disability must also last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers' compensation, insurance, savings and investments.


Social Security Online

Disability Planner


How We Decide If You Are Disabled

Updated: October 25, 2005

To decide whether you are disabled, we use a step-by-step process involving five questions.

They are:

1.      Are you working?

If you are working in 2006 and your earnings average more than $860 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. If you are not working, we go to Step 2.

2.      Is your condition "severe"?

Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, we go to Step 3.





[This is the BEST attachment to see! Please take a look at this form by clicking the LINK below.It must be viewed in Adobe Reader.]

This is the FUNCTION REPORT used by Social Security Disability as they evaluate a much more broad view of taking care of oneself.

This would be the only instance when �self-care� could have been written in the original settlement agreement of the Plan using the word �and�.  This demonstrates Social Security's more fair way that they look at the loss of vocation together with other limitations to one's life activities





Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary (


Main Entry: dis�abil�i�ty


Pronunciation: "di-s&-'bi-l&-tE
Function: noun

1 a : the condition of being disabled

�� b : inability to pursue an occupation because of physical or mental impairment


2 : lack of legal qualification to do something

3 : a disqualification, restriction, or disadvantage





Medline � National Institutes of Health

(refers to Merriam-Webster�s Online Dictionary)


Main Entry: dis�abil�i�ty

Pronunciation: secondarystress
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural

1 : the condition of being disabled

2 : inability to pursue an occupation because of physical or mental impairment



Merriam-Webster�s Online Dictionary (


Main Entry:  work

Pronunciation: �w&rk
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English werk, work, from Old English werc, weorc; akin to Old High German werc work, Greek ergon, Avestan var&zem activity

1 : activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:


    a : sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result


    b : the labor, task, or duty that is one�s accustomed means of livelihood c : a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activity


Main Entry: av�o�ca�tion

Pronunciation: "a-v&-'kA-sh&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin avocation-, avocatio, from avocare to call away, from ab- + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice -- more at VOICE


2 : customary employment : VOCATION

3 : a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one's vocation especially for enjoyment : HOBBY






Social Security Program Rules


Current Program Rules

Our current program rules include the law; regulations; Commissioner rulings; and, employee operating instructions.



The Law

Compilation of Social Security Laws -- Volume I contains the full text of the Social Security Act, as amended, and selected provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (order hardcopy?)

Volume II of the Compilation contains provisions of the Internal Revenue Code and other public laws and statutes cited in, and affecting administration of, the Social Security Act.

Legislation -- recent legislation affecting Social Security benefits

The Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations for Social Security -- revised as of April 1, 2005 (order hardcopy?)

Rules in Effect Today -- see both rules revised as of April 1, 2005, and regulatory changes from April 1, 2005, to Date

Final Rules -- regulatory changes from April 1, 2005, to Date

SSI Law and Regulations Finder -- specific references to Supplemental Security Income law and regulations

The Rulings

Complete Social Security Rulings and Acquiescence Rulings -- includes rulings for 1960 to date

Recent Social Security Rulings and Acquiescence Rulings



Employee Operating Instructions


Program Operations Manual System
-- instructions used by employees and agents of SSA to carry out the law, regulations, and rulings

Hearings, Appeals and Litigation
Law (HALLEX) Manual

-- instructions used by employees of SSA's
Office of Hearings and Appeals in processing and adjudicating claims at the hearing, Appeals Council review, and civil actions levels of appeal

Federal Register Announcements

Disability Insurance Redesign

Organizational Changes

Miscellaneous Announcements


Social Security Handbook



If you have comments that relate to the layout or usability of these pages -- or any other technical suggestions, we will be glad to consider them. Our E-mail address for these comments is:


(This Program Rules and Regulations Home Page contains links to listings of manuals, laws, rules, etc.)






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