Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. impairment of function to below the maximal level, either physically or mentally.
2. anything that causes such impairment.
3. the United States Government defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities:” this includes both those individuals with a record of an impairment and those regarded as having such an impairment.
4. the World Health Organization defines disability as loss of function at the level of the whole person, which may include inability to communicate or to perform mobility, activities of daily living, or necessary vocational or avocational activities; rehabilitation is aimed at teaching patients to remediate or compensate and thus maximize functional independence. See also handicap and impairment.
developmental disability a substantial handicap in mental or physical functioning, with onset before the age of 18 and of indefinite duration. Examples are autism, cerebral palsy, uncontrolled epilepsy, certain other neuropathies, and mental retardation.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. According to the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (World Health Organization), any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. The term disability reflects the consequences of impairment in terms of functional performance and activity by the person; disabilities thus represent disturbances at the individual level.
2. An impairment or defect of one or more organs or members.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n. pl. disabili·ties
a. A physical or mental condition that significantly limits a person's motor, sensory, or cognitive abilities.
b. The state of having such a condition. discrimination based on disability.
a. A program that provides financial support to people with such conditions: has been on disability for a month.
b. The economic assistance provided by such a program: has been getting disability since the accident.
3. Law Lack of legal capacity to perform some act, such as to enter into a contract, because of infancy or lack of soundness of mind.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Occupational medicine An inability to work because of physical or mental impairment, which precludes performing expected roles or tasks Degree Partial–some types of labor can be performed; total–degree of impairment precludes any type of gainful employment; disability is affected by various factors, including age, education, economic and social environments Social medicine Handicap A limitation in a person's mental or physical ability to function in terms of work, learning or other socially required or relevant activities, to the extent that the person might be regarded as having a need for certain benefits, compensation, exemptions, special training because of said limitations Examples Impaired hearing, mobility, speech, vision, infection with TB, HIV, or etc, malignancy, past Hx of alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness. See Ambulatory disability, Americans with Disabilities Act, Handicap, Learning disability, Reading disability, Reversible ischemic neurologic, Political correctness, Serious emotional or behavioral disability/disorder, Temporary partial disability, Temporary total disability. Cf Impairment.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Diminished capacity to perform a physical or mental function within a prescribed range.
2. An impairment or defect of one or more organs or members.
See also: handicap
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


A term whose definition has been much debated. The current UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reads: ‘Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and active participation in society on an equal basis with others.’ A definition proposed in 2006, subject to WHO approval is: ‘Difficulty in functioning at the body, person or societal levels, in one or more life domains, as experienced by an individual with a health condition in interaction with contextual factors.’
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


According to the International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps (World Health Organization), any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about disability

Q. Is it true that fibromyalgia is a disability? I haven't worked long enough to draw my regular social security, the fibromyalgia i have had since 1996 keeps me from working, so why can't i get ssi and some health insurance please help me.

A. Fibromyalgia is a relatively new term in the medical world, which primarily is defined by muscle and tissue pain and the etiology, or reason is unknown. Also, sufferers react to pain with a light touch often. Other symptoms include stiff joints and insomnia.

Fibromyalgia is considered a symptom, as this is when a set of symptoms occur together without known cause. A disability, however, is a physical defect or illness that is clearly defined.

Fibromyalgia shares symptoms of those who have a high degree of stress and/or anxiety, so this has been suggested as the cause as well. These links that follow might help more:

About.com: Fibromyalgia - News, information, and support for sufferers of fibromyalgia.
Arthritis Insight-Fibromyalgia - Definition, the symptoms, and how is it diagnosed and treated.
Autonomic (Sympathetic) Nervous System Dysfunction in Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia symptoms can be explained by autonomic (sympathetic) nervous system dysfunction
Diagnosis a

Q. What kind of job would suit a person with a disability like arthritis? My Dad is settled in USA, and he suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Can anyone suggest me a job which he can take up, which he can do, without too much of physical work? He is well educated and was a teacher in India, but he is waiting for his certificates to get to USA, to apply for teaching positions.

A. Assuming you don't consider teaching in a classroom too much physical work, he should probably wait for his teaching certificates to clear and then work as a teacher. I meas, why do you feel he should change his career?

Q. Could ADHD be the reason my nine year old can not read or tell the difference between 16 and 60? My nine year old can not read or remember how to spell little words like as and on. She also has major problems with complicated sorting that other child younger then her can do. The school says it is because she is not on medication for her ADHD. She has a younger sister who has ADHD and is not on medication and she is doing well in school. Can ADHD cause all her problems or is there something else going on.

A. I have a 13-year-old child who has ADHD along with learning disabilities including an auditory processing disorder and a working memory disorder (diagnosed in 2nd grade). Not sure if the attention symptoms are because of the learning disabilities, etc. LD goes hand in hand with ADHD and vice verse. A very high percentage of people who have ADHD also have something else going on such as learning disabilities, oppositional defiance disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. My child is 13 now and has always exhibited signs of ADHD, LD and ODD. You should have your child tested at the school level for learning disabilities. Write a letter requesting testing for learning disabilities and give it to your school's principal. The school then has I believe 30 days to respond with testing.This will let you know if your child also has a learning disability going on with the ADHD. It also gives you the option of allowing your child to receive Special Education services in a resource class.

More discussions about disability
This content is provided by iMedix and is subject to iMedix Terms. The Questions and Answers are not endorsed or recommended and are made available by patients, not doctors.
References in periodicals archive ?
Mike Simonds, senior vice president of marketing and product development for UnumProvident, said the long-term disability claim cost of an average 55-year-old worker is more than double that of an average 45-year-old.
The handling of information on someone's disability and their status as a person with a disability is a very sensitive issue.
Wright (1983) referred to this as "spread phenomenon" whereby one aspect of an individual's disability permeates all aspects of his/her life.
For example, it's not just about whether a lunch table is made accessible so that a faculty member with a disability can sit there; it's about whether someone will sit next to that person.
"Whoever 'really' advocates for people with muscular dystrophy and other congenital diseases," he says, "needs to promote public figures who have the conditions in order to move our culture away from the concept that the disability is a private tragedy."
Members included: Brian Arnold, a tax lawyer; Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Association for Community Living; Laurie Beachell, National Co-ordinator, Council of Canadians with Disabilities; Harry Beatty, a lawyer specializing in disability law; Gail Beck, M.D., Director, Youth Inpatient Psychiatry, Royal Ottawa Hospital; Gary Birch, Executive Director, Neil Squire Foundation; Lembi Buchanan, Chair, Coalition for Disability Tax Credit Reform; Karen Cohen, Associate Director, Canadian Psychological Association; Yude Henteleff, Honorary Solicitor, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada; and Guy Lord, Senior Partner, Osier, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
Since the information gathered from these public meetings can be useful to a State VR agency's refinement and improvement of a proposed policy or procedure, the agency should make special efforts to inform consumer organizations of these meetings so that they have the opportunity to express their views, thus ensuring the voice of the larger disability community is heard.
Numerical and arithmetical cognition: Patterns of functions and deficits in children at risk for a mathematical disability. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 74, 213-239.
Reforms contained in SB 899 will change the system for determining the level of injury and amount of disability assigned to that injury.
After a dark history of excluding students with disabilities from regular public schools, Congress in 1975 passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, guaranteeing all children, regardless of disability, the right to a "free and appropriate public education" in the "least restrictive environment." The "special education" law, as it came to be known, is a civil-rights statute.
The first step in determining whether an employer has a duty to accommodate an employee suffering from stress is to determine whether the employee's stress amounts to a disability, as that term is defined by the Code.
(4) In neither case, did the interviewers imagine that all the people included disabled people, with disability seen as integral to identity.

Full browser ?