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DOL Says FMLA Leave for Disabled Adult Child Does Not Depend on Date of Onset of Condition

    Client Alerts
  • February 08, 2013

Last month, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division issued a clarifying interpretation of eligibility for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for the serious health condition of an adult child incapable of self-care due to a disability. FMLA eligibility is limited to care for children 18 years of age or younger, but the DOL rules contain an exception for adult children over 18 incapable of self-care.

The DOL interpretation posed the question of whether the eligible adult child's disability must begin before the age of 18 for FMLA coverage to apply. DOL said no, based on legislative history and administrative experience under the law. As long as the adult child is incapable of self-care, his or her age at the date of onset of the disability is irrelevant to the eligibility question. The same interpretation letter also clarified FMLA leave rights for caregivers of adult children who become disabled during military service under more recent FMLA amendments. DOL confirmed that such leave applies beyond any initial FMLA leave taken to eligibility in future years if the disability persists.