What is a Disability in Colorado?

small picture of attorney bill henry
By: Bill Henry
PublishedSep 28, 2018
3 minute read

Quick Guide To Disability Rights in Colorado by R&H’s Colorado Disability Lawyers

When someone is, or becomes, disabled, they are afforded certain protections under the law. To benefit from these protections, one must first understand what is considered a disability, if it is covered and what rights that person has.

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing defines a disability as, “an impairment, mental or physical in nature that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for one’s self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working and learning.” Disability and its effect on major life activities can manifest in two ways: physical or mental impairments.

Physical – a physical impairment may be present at birth, or may arise later in life due to injury or disease. Impairments can include malfunctions of the immune system, digestive system, neurological system, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions. Examples of such impairments include (but not limited to) deafness, blindness, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and muscular dystrophy.

Mental – a mental impairment is any mental or psychological disorder that impacts a person’s ability to function normally. This can include learning disabilities, mental retardation, and emotional or mental illness. Examples include (but are not limited to) ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and eating disorders, memory loss, mood disorders, drug addiction, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Depression, Schizoaffective Disorder and chronic insomnia.

If you have a disability, it’s important to know what your rights are. Various local and federal laws are in place to protect people with disabilities within various sectors of their lives, from health and housing to employment and finances.


The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (ADA) prohibits an employer from discriminating against or harassing you based on your disability. However, this act doesn’t consider it discriminatory if the employer cannot reasonably accommodate the individual’s disability, like if the disability disqualifies the person from the job, or if it would cause a significant impact on the job.



The Federal Housing Act (FHA) prohibits landlords from discriminating against disabled persons, whether in public or private housing. In addition to forbidding a landlord from refusing to rent to someone with a disability, it also requires the landlord to accept reasonable accommodation requests to make the house more accessible.

Service Animals

Under the FHA, a landlord must make reasonable accommodations for a disabled person. One such accommodation is a service animal. A service animal can be a trained dog who performs certain tasks or it can also be an emotional support animal. If a tenant provides the landlord with proof, then the landlord is required to allow these animals, regardless of their policies and are not allowed to charge pet rent or deposits from the person with the disability. Read more here.

Workers’ Compensation

In Colorado, workers who are temporarily or permanently unable to earn a wage due to injury or illness that was sustained on the job, are entitled a form of wage replacement. Colorado breaks down workers’ compensation into four categories: temporary partial, temporary total, permanent partial and permanent total disability. Read more and find applications at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website (www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/disability-and-benefits).


There are many local and federal laws that protect against exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment of persons with disabilities. These laws protect a person’s ability to freely move and access different resources by requiring them to make certain accommodations. Some of these accommodations include the ability to physically access things like voting facilities, buildings, public schools, air carriers, telecommunications, public transportation and public accommodations to various businesses and nonprofits.

Colorado Disability Lawyers

Other Monetary Assistance

Some individuals may be eligible for other forms of monetary help, such as disability insurance or Social Security Disability.

If you think your rights have been violated, you can file an official complaint within 60 days of the incident. Fill out the and submit the discrimination complaint form, or if you are unable to do so, then contact an ADA/504 Coordinator for assistance. For those who have filed and received an unsatisfactory outcome, an appeal can be made 15 days after the decision. Please contact our disability attorney at Robinson & Henry for more information.

You do not deserve to be treated differently or miss out on life’s opportunities because of your disability. If you think your rights have been violated and would like more information on available solutions for your specific case, please contact our office for an assessment with our Colorado disability lawyers.

More Than Just Lawyers. Lawyers for Your Life.

Learn more about our law firm’s philosophy and values.