What’s the Difference Between Activity Limitation and Participation Restriction

Published on: April 25, 2019

DisabilityExperts_ActivityLimitationsWhen it comes to determining disability, there are a lot of factors. These factors play a significant role in your ability to receive Social Security disability benefits. One aspect of disability an administrative law judge (ALJ) and others involved in the approval process will look at is activity limitation versus participation restriction. So what do each of these circumstances mean, and how are they different from one another? For answers, it’s best to look to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Disability as Defined by the CDC

The CDC defines disability as “any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).” Conditions include, but are not limited to, communicating, hearing, mental health, movement, remembering, social relationships, thinking, and vision. How are the conditions categorized?

The Difference Between Activity Limitation and Participation Restriction

Categorization comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), and was published in their International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) in 2001. The ICF document provides a standard language for classifying body function and structure, activity, participation levels, and conditions in the world around us that influence health. This description helps to assess the health, functioning, activities, and factors in the environment that either help or create barriers for people to fully participate in society.

According to the ICF:

  • Activity is the execution of a task or action by an individual.
  • Participation is a person’s involvement in a life situation.

Confused? Well, the ICF itself acknowledges that the distinction between these two categories is somewhat unclear. Because of this, the ICF often combines the two due to an individual’s personal level and participation in life roles, such as employment, education, or relationships, and their activity limitations and participation restrictions, which is attuned toward performing tasks and engaging in social roles. Activities and participation can be made easier or more difficult as a result of environmental factors, such as technology, support, and relationships, along with services, policies, or the beliefs of others.

The ICF includes the following in the categories of activities and participation:

  • Learning and applying knowledge
  • Managing tasks and demands
  • Mobility (moving and maintaining body positions, handling and moving objects, moving around in the environment, moving around using transportation)
  • Managing self-care tasks
  • Managing domestic life
  • Establishing and managing interpersonal relationships and interactions
  • Engaging in major life areas (education, employment, managing money or finances)
  • Engaging in community, social, and civic life

Understanding Limitation and Participation

Applying for disability can mean navigating some muddy waters, especially when it comes to Activity Limitation and Participation Restriction and the overlap between the two. If you’re feeling confused and need an expert by your side, contact the Disability Experts of Florida. What sets us apart from the rest is our 100 years of combined experience specializing in SSI and SSDI claims. Our team of reputable advocates will handle everything for you, so let us help remove the burden of dealing with the Social Security Administration while getting you the advocate you need to receive the outcomes you seek.

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