How to qualify for support animal

November 12, 2018

How to Qualify for An Emotional Support Animal

If you have an emotional disability, you can legally qualify for an ESA, short for emotional support animal. You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist or other duly-licensed and/or certified mental health professional. This certification should be a formal and appropriately formatted letter.

Any other kind of doctor – a cardiologist, for instance – does not quality as a mental health professional because unlike a psychiatrist, other medical doctors are not specialists in mental health. Some property managers of apartments and airlines, however, accept verification forms filled out by a family physician. Ensure that you have the correct authority that writes the letter for you.

The emotional support animal letter must be written on the mental health professional’s letterhead, include his or her license type, date of license, license number, and the state which issued the license. Moreover, it should have the date when it was written. A sample of the request letter can be viewed at the official website of Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, but there are other websites that have the same kind of samples which you may prefer.

What the Letter Must Contain

Your letter must contain some details which will inform the recipient that you are:

  • A current patient of the signing mental health professional.
  • Under this mental health professional care and treatment of your disability which is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders Version IV or V.
  • Substantially limited in performing or participating in at least one of life’s major activities because of your disability.
  • Being prescribed an ESA as an integral part for the treatment of your current condition.
  • The ESA letter must be dated no later than a year from the date of your departure.

What Disorders Qualify You as An ESA Owner

To help you further on qualifying for an ESA, you may want to read through the list of some of the disorders stipulated in the previously mentioned DSM-IV:

  • Learning disorders.
  • Attention Deficit Disorder also is known as ADD.
  • Sexual disorder.
  • Mental retardation.
  • Tic disorders.
  • Motor skills disorders.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Gender identity.
  • Substance-related disorder (alcohol and/or drugs, among others).
  • Cognitive Disorders.
Emotional Support Animal Training

Unlike service animals, ESA’s are not required to be trained to perform a service for their handlers. An ESA provides emotional support for their handlers and can qualify as long as the animal does not cause a disturbance or undue hardship for an apartment manager/owner.