Over 60 various definitions of “disability” have been generated for legislative and policy uses. Definitions of disability often vary by agency for the purpose of establishing eligibility criteria for services and programs. Definitions vary because the legislative and policy outcomes often differ.
Example: Joe works at the local Social Security Administration office and uses an agency specific disability definition to determine eligibility of persons applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Francine works at the Health and Human Services Agency. She is a nurse and uses an agency specific definition of disability to determine eligibility of adults for long term services and supports.
Example: Civil rights legislation emphasizes a broad definition of disability, such as in the ADA, while the definition of disability used to determine eligibility for Social Security is a much narrower definition.