January 2009
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Redefining disabled

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The ADA has been revised, and the new rules may affect you

by Jason C. Kim and Gray I. Mateo-Harris
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The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) promises to dramatically change the disability law landscape. Encouraged by the onslaught of lower court decisions ruling that numerous conditions were not disabilities under the existing Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress emphatically engaged in an extensive bipartisan effort to enact the ADAAA.

On June 25, 2008, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3195, the precursor to the ADAAA. On Sept. 11, 2008, the Senate followed suit by unanimously passing the ADAAA, a bill that differs only slightly from H.R. 3195 by offering even greater protection to individuals with disabilities. The House hurriedly passed the ADAAA Sept. 17, 2008. As expected, President Bush signed the act into law Sept. 25, 2008.

The ADAAA significantly broadens the definition of disability and lowers the standard for determining whether an impairment substantially limits an individual's major life activities. The act took effect Jan. 1, so you should prepare for the projected landslide of disability claims.



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