BREAKING NEWS

Do I qualify for a service dog?

The answer to this question may be more complicated than you expect. First, there are different definitions of disability in different federal laws. The definition for Social Security Disability Income is not the same as that in the Americans with Disabilities Act (which determines whether you qualify to use a service dog in public places where dogs are not generally permitted). It is possible for an individual to qualify for SSDI and not qualify for a service dog and vice versa. You must evaluate your situation separately for each context.

The definition of disability under the ADA is a legal, not medical, definition. Since a lawyer generally can't diagnose medical conditions and a doctor generally can't interpret the law, you may get stuck somewhere in the middle trying to figure it all out.

We've made a flow chart that incorporates the elements of the definition of disability contained within the ADA to try to help you sort through this question systematically.

You may want to review the legal definition as written by Congress for yourself, or review the entire Americans with Disabilities Act which includes some additional fine points you may notice in our flow chart in other sections.

Ultimately, what we recommend is that you take the flow chart or the written definition with you and discuss it with any doctor who is treating you or has treated you for your disability to get his opinion and to have his opinion entered into your permanent medical records.

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Flowchart to help determine if you qualify for a service dog176.76 KB