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Is A Food Allergy Considered A Disability

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What Is A 504 Plan

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A 504 plan is a legally binding care plan between you and your childs school. It addresses how the school will accommodate your childs food allergies.

Its name comes from the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under this law, schools that get federal funding cannot exclude or discriminate against students who have disabilities.1 According to Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act , a food allergy is often considered a disability depending on how severe the allergy is.

Is A Food Allergy A Disability


Under the Americans with Disabilities Act , it is illegal discrimination for a place of public accommodation to fail to make reasonable accommodations for the disabilities of its patrons .; The same is true under the Maine Human Rights Act and other states disability rights laws.; Some types of reasonable accommodations are quite obvious; for example, restaurants must provide wheelchair access and handicapped restrooms.; A recent settlement between the Lesley University in Massachusetts and the United States government shows that the accommodations requirement of disabilities laws may also extend to food menu offerings.

-Maintaining ready-made hot and cold gluten- and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines;

-Setting up an interactive process for students with food allergies to work directly with disability services to develop individualized meal plans;

-Allowing students to pre-order their meals or request specific foods to be made available in campus dining halls;

-Dedicating spaces for the storage and preparation of gluten-free and allergen-free foods in order to avoid cross-contamination;

-Displaying notices about food allergy risks and identify foods containing specific allergens; and

-Training food service workers and University staff members about celiac disease and other types of food allergies.

Accommodating Employees With Food Allergy

People with food allergies may develop some of the limitations discussed below, but seldom develop all of them. Also, the degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Be aware that not all people with arthritis will need accommodations to perform their jobs and many others may only need a few accommodations. The following is only a sample of the possibilities available. Numerous other accommodation solutions may exist.

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Does My Child Qualify For A 504 Plan

Having a food allergy does not mean your child qualifies for a 504 plan. Your child must first be evaluated by the school to see if they are eligible for a 504 plan. Your child must meet the official definition of having a disability.

To help the school with this process, have documents from your childs doctor showing that your childs food allergy seriously limits a major life activity. Eating is a major life activity.

Did You Know That Life Threatening Food Allergies Are Considered A Disability Under Section 504

Disability Benefits

What is Section 504?

Section 504 is a Federal law that prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance .

Section 504 is NOT special education. ;It provides the necessary accommodations and modifications to allow for equal access for students with disabilities to a Free and Appropriate Public Education . ;Section 504 levels the playing field for individuals with disabilities.

Section 504 also requires that a student with a disability receive an equal opportunity to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities, and to be free from bullying and harassment based on disability.

Who is eligible for Section 504?

A disability that meets the eligibility criteria for section 504 is defined as:

a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Physical and Mental Impairments:

  • physiological disorder or condition,
  • cosmetic disfigurement, or
  • anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genito-urinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine.

Examples of Major Life Activities

How do Food Allergies qualify an individual for protections under Section 504.

Sample Accommodations that may be included in a 504 plan for Life Threatening food allergies:

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Food Allergies May Be Considered A Workplace Disability

It is important for employers to know that in some circumstances, a peanut allergy may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This requires a reasonable accommodation, as is the case with all disabilities.

However, if accommodating the employee would cause an undue hardship, the employer is not required to provide it. The following ideas are suggestions from the Job Accommodation Network on ways that your business may be able to reasonably accommodate an employees request for accommodation due to a food allergy.

Limitations On Your Ability To Work

If Social Security doesn’t find that yourallergies don’t meet the qualifications of one of the disabilitylistings, you could still be eligible for Social Security Disabilitybenefits if you are unable to work because of the limitations caused byyour allergy. The greatest limitations caused by allergies areenvironmental restrictions. For instance, those with a severe latexallergy may be restricted from working around latex-containing products,such as rubber gloves, computer parts, medical products, some furnishings and clothing, and more. Thosewho suffer from allergies that result in dermatitis or asthma might be prevented from returning to work basedon their physical limitations as well.

If you suffer severe allergies andneed a very restrictive environment to function at a level that allowsyou to successfully complete a job, Social Security will include thesedetails in a residual functional capacity assessment that lays outyour limitations.

You should include the following in your medical record or the documentation you submit to Social Security:

  • a history of exposure to allergens
  • a family history of similar allergies
  • variations in symptoms by season
  • stress factors, and
  • your inability to function outside of a highly protective environment.

Your personal history regarding allergies and your ability tofunction outside of a highly protective area are very important inshowing how your allergies are affecting your life.

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    Benefits Of A 504 Plan For Food Allergies

    There are numerous potential benefits of establishing 504 plans for students with food allergies. The plans can:

    • Address where life-saving anaphylaxis medications will be stored
    • Detail where students will eat lunches and snacks
    • Determine whether allergens will be permitted on the school campus, and if so, where.
    • Explain how teachers, nurses, and other school personnel will be trained to recognize food allergy symptoms

    Plans crafted under the 504 plan umbrella also may help parents teach their children how to manage their own medical conditions, and they can help parents explain to school personnel what their children can and cannot do for themselves with respect to keeping safe from allergens in a school setting.

    Introduction To Food Allergies

    Lesson 1: What is a food allergy? Allergy Adventures Workshop for schools

    Food is an important part of our work culture. We celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions by coming together with our colleagues for a potluck meal and dessert. We meet customers at restaurants to network and seal the deal. We attend conferences and eat the lunch that is included in the registration fee. All of these things can affect the environment in which we work if we are one of the 15 million Americans who have food allergies.i

    A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response. An immune response occurs when the immune system views normally harmless proteins in the food as intruders and attacks. These proteins are called allergens. The eight major food allergens milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish result in most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States. In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause anaphylactic shock, difficulty swallowing or breathing, asthma, and death.ii

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    Are Food Allergies Considered A Disability

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    Are Asthma And Allergies Disabilities

    Has a preschool rejected your child? Or was your child left out of a field trip because a teacher was afraid to use an epinephrine auto-injector? Does a moldy carpet at work or school make you sick? Does stale smoke in offices, hotel rooms or conference centers make it hard for you to work?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law. It gives people with disabilities the right to ask for changes where policies, practices or conditions leave you out or put you at a disadvantage. Public companies and places must give people with disabilities full access to all facilities, programs, goods and services. They must also give them the chance to enjoy these places and services just like someone without disabilities.

    The ADA borrows from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act says agencies, programs and services that receive federal money cannot discriminate based on disability when it comes to jobs or education.

    This includes public accommodations, such as:

    • Restaurants
    • Non-religious private schools
    • Child care programs

    These places must be accessible to and usable by those with disabilities. No one can be left out or denied services because of a disability. They also cannot be left out due to ignorance, attitudes or stereotypes others may have about disabilities.

    Can I Get Disability For Severe Allergies

    Can Eczema Be Considered a Disability?

    There are two ways to qualify for SocialSecurity disability benefits for allergies. First, if your allergieshave caused a chronic-related condition, such as asthma or dermatitis,the condition must meet the qualifications of Social Security’sdisability listing for that condition. Second, if you can show that youneed to work in a highly restrictive environment to prevent thepossibility of anaphylaxis, you might be approved for benefits if SocialSecurity determines that there isn’t a job you can do in a safeenvironment.

    Anaphylaxis is a severe allergicreaction that affects the respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestivesystems. Generally it is characterized by swelling, hives, lowered bloodpressure, and dilated blood vessels. Specifically, the effects on therespiratory system may include wheezing, difficulty breathing, anddifficulty swallowing. The effects on the cardiovascular system mayinclude a change in heart rate and even cardiac arrest. The effects onthe digestive system may include cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting. Insevere cases and without treatment, an individual can go into shock.Hospitalization and close monitoring by doctors is needed if anaphylaxisoccurs.

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    What Is The Significance Of Section 504 To A Student With Food Allergies

    Students with food allergies are at risk for anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that can significantly impact the âmajor life activityâ of breathing. Food allergies may also significantly limit other major life activities such as digestion and eating. As such, students with food allergies may be entitled to accommodations under Section 504, typically referred to as a â504 plan.â

    Accommodations under Section 504 are meant to provide a student with a disability access to education equal to that of his non-disabled peers. In other words, accommodations under Section 504 do not give preferential access. Instead, they are intended to level the playing field for the student with a disability â in this case, a food allergy. It is likely that the food-allergic student enters the school environment already at a disadvantage due to an unsafe environment that promotes exclusion or a lack of food allergy education among school educators. Section 504 provides a written plan to safely include the student in all programs and activities provided or sponsored by the school. When the school provides a safe, inclusive environment, the food-allergic student has the opportunity to access education and activities on equal footing with his or her non-disabled peers.

    Is A Food Allergy Considered A Disability

    The answer is, it depends.;

    Under the Americans with Disabilities Act , a disability is defined as a mental or physical;impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, such as eating. Major life activities also;include major bodily functions, such as the functions of the gastrointestinal system.

    Some individuals with food allergies have a disability as defined by the ADA, particularly those;with more significant or severe responses to certain foods.

    This fact sheet explores:

    • What is the Colorado Schoolchildren’s Asthma and Anaphylaxis Act and what does it do?
    • Can my child self-carry his or her medication?
    • Can a school charge more for a meal that requires modifications?
    • What documentation is required in Colorado for food modification?

    And many more questions. To learn more about this issue, download the fact sheet.

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    Know Your Food Allergy Rights: College

    The rights for people with food allergies and celiac disease in college have come a long way. There are two main legal documents which apply, and a 2012 Department of Justice complaint which resulted in a settlement all but confirms that severe food allergies can constitute a disability under U.S. law.

    Rehabilitation Act, 1973

    Applies to: Any public entity that receives federal financial assistance.

    Rights given: Nobody may discriminate against an individual with a disability.

    Administered by: Office for Civil Rights

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first federal legislation aimed at providing equal rights to individuals with disabilities. Section 504 of this act deals with ensuring equal rights for individuals with disabilities in public elementary and secondary schools. Individuals with disabilities must have an equal opportunity to benefit from services offered, such as education. This is where the 504 Plan comes from, which is a legally binding document that ensures the individual with a disability will be accommodated.

    Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990

    Applies to: All public and private schools, regardless of federal funding, plus other areas.

    Rights given: Expanded coverage of Section 504 to different areas, including all public and private schools, regardless of federal funding. A disability in the ADA is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

    Administered by: Department of Justice

    How The Ada Can Help

    Webinar: COVID-19 vaccines and food allergy: Is any approved vaccine the best vaccine?

    If you have asthma or allergies, the ADA can help you feel safe and healthier when you work, shop, go to school, or eat. Under the ADA, a business canât deny you if youâre qualified because of your allergies or asthma. Instead, they will need to provide an allergy-friendly lunchroom or work environment.

    Public and nonreligious private schools also must create friendly environments that are free of asthma or allergy triggers. Even if the school doesnât get funds from the government, they must follow the ADA.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act calls a change made to make you more comfortable an accommodation. You and the people in your space will work together to make a shift that best fits your well-being.

    An accommodation may include a workspace reorganization to get rid of things youâre allergic to, lower triggers like odors, or replace old carpets. But organizations donât need to make a change that causes a huge alteration.

    For example, if the company doesnât have enough money to support your change or it would drastically adjust the way it does business, you wouldnât be able to ask for it to accommodate you in that way. But your company must make a strong effort to help you stay comfortable before it denies your request. The only way a business can deny your accommodation is if it has considered all options first.

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    Is Celiac Disease Or Food Allergy Ada Disability

    Synopsis: Questions and Answers regarding the Lesley University Agreement and potential implications for people with food allergies. The ADA does not require that every place of public accommodation that serves food to the public provide gluten-free or allergen-free food. Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye.

    Does My Child Need A 504 Plan For Their Food Allergy

    Not all students with food allergies need a 504 plan.3 Think about your childs needs. Does the school have a full-time nurse on site? Are the schools resources limited? Does the school already have effective policies and procedures in place for managing food allergies? How well is the school responding and cooperating with requests?

    Your child may only need an individual health care plan , especially if the school already has food allergy policies in place.

    But if your child has extra needs you are concerned about, you may want a 504 plan.

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