major life activity

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The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and subsequent ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) define a “major life activity” as including, but not limited to, “caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.” The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 expanded the definition of “major life activity” to include “major bodily function” which non-exhaustively entails “functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.” To qualify as having an “actual” disability, an individual’s impairment must substantially limit a “major life activity.” A condition that substantially impairs a major life activity qualifies as a disability even if the condition is episodic in nature or in remission. 

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]