What is the legal difference between disability and incapacity in Spain?


It is important not to confuse in Spain "discapacidad" (disability) with "incapacidad" (incapacity), two terms with different legal consequences.


Disability is what gives rise to obtaining a certificate after an assessment carried out by lawyers, doctors, psychologists, etc., who are the ones who determine if the applicant has a limitation for activities of daily living equal to or greater than 33 percent. This percentage represents the threshold from which social compensation can be enjoyed.


In addition, the certificate does not imply, a priori, any limitation to work either in the usual profession or in others.


On the other hand, incapacity can be requested by those people who are unable to perform their work. In this case, it is the National Institute of Social Security (INSS) that determines whether there is incapacity and the degree.


  • Permanent partial incapacity allows the applicant to continue in his job and collect compensation.

  • Total permanent incapacity prevents you from continuing with your usual profession, but there is the possibility of dedicating yourself to another.

  • Absolute permanent incapacity makes it impossible to exercise any profession or trade and, finally, severe incapacity is granted when the permanently incapacitated worker needs the assistance of another person for the most essential acts of life.

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