What conditions qualify for a 504 plan?

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

Question:

Someone at our school told me there are specific conditions that qualify a child for an IEP. But I’m wondering about a 504 plan. What is the list of conditions or legal disabilities that qualify a child for a 504 plan?

Answer:

This is a bit of a trick question.

Unlike for an IEP, there is no list of specific conditions or disabilities that qualify a child for a 504 plan. I know that sounds odd. But it’s because eligibility for a 504 plan is very broad. It would be nearly impossible to create a list because there would be too many conditions.

What we can do is look at examples of conditions that qualify for a 504 plan.

To get a 504 plan, a student must have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” That’s a mouthful. It’s from , the law that covers 504 plans. The important thing to know is that many different conditions can be impairments. And most things people do each day — from eating and sleeping to learning and thinking — are major life activities.

That’s why learning and thinking differences often qualify for a 504 plan. For example, ADHD can be an impairment under the law. It impacts activities like thinking and paying attention. Likewise, dyslexia can be an impairment that impacts reading.

Beyond learning differences, many other conditions also qualify. In a typical school, there will be 504 plans for anxiety, food allergies, vision problems, illnesses, and more. 

There’s one last thing to keep in mind. Depending on the impact of their condition, a student might qualify for a 504 plan, an IEP, or neither. For example, if a student has very mild ADHD, it might not impact their life in a way that’s a legal disability. So, they don’t qualify for any plan. Or the ADHD could create so many challenges that the student is eligible for an IEP.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.