Legal conceptions of impairment: Implications for the assessment of psychiatric disabilities

Benjamin J. Lovett, Michael Gordon, Lawrence J. Lewandowski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

9 Scopus citations


The measurement of functional impairment is hardly a mere academic enterprise, given the current demand for clinical evaluations of disability status. For instance, witness the recent controversies over US military veterans seeking benefits through certification of psychiatric disability (e.g., McNally & Frueh, 2012) or individuals convicted of murder who may feign intellectual disability to avoid the death penalty (e.g., Chafetz & Biondolillo, 2012). More generally, individuals seeking access to specialized accommodations and services in school or at work are pursuing assessments that establish their qualification as having a disability. To satisfy those requests, clinicians have to understand how the law defines disability and the level of documentation required to establish that an individual has a disability. These legal definitions of disability push clinicians to shift focus from the familiar terrain of symptom counts and psychological test scores to the less traveled path of assessing impairment in actual functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAssessing Impairment
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Theory to Practice
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781489979964
ISBN (Print)9781489979940
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Americans with disabilities Act
  • Legal issues
  • Special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Medicine
  • General Social Sciences


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