Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Evaluations

Emotional Support Animals provide emotional assistance to their handlers and may qualify as an ESA as long as the animal does not cause a disturbance or undue hardship for the property owner. Any domesticated animal of any age may qualify as an ESA and, unlike service dogs, these animals do not need any specific task training. This is because their very presence reduces the symptoms associated with a person’s psychological or emotional disability.

For a person to legally qualify for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), they must be considered emotionally disabled by a licensed mental health professional. This means the person must meet the criteria for a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM 5).

FAQ

What are my legal rights and protections?

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 is the law that protects an emotionally disabled person and their ESA. This legal protection allows an individual with an ESA to qualify for no-pet housing, and without being charged a pet fee. This protection also includes an exemption from any housing provider’s limitation of a pet’s size or breed.

What can I expect from an ESA Assessment?

These assessments are provided by licensed mental health care providers as a specialty service and one that is not covered by medical insurance.

  1. The first part is an online assessment that must be completed before scheduling. We use the WHODAS 2.0 (World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule) as a general measure of disability and function.

  2. Once your responses to the assessment are received and processed, you’ll be ready to schedule the clinical interview which may be in-person or virtual based on your preference.

How much does the evaluation const?

The total cost of an ESA evaluation is $125.

Does insurance cover the cost of an ESA evaluation?

Not at this time. ESA evaluations are considered a specialty service and, therefore, not covered by medical insurance.

Can I schedule an ESA evaluation if I live out of state?

No. To schedule, you must be in the state of Texas at the time of your assessment.

Do you offer ESA Assessments for the purpose of air travel?

No. Due to changes to the Air Carrier Access Act, we no longer provide ESA assessments or letters for air travel.

Will I be under the care of a therapist?

Yes, but only during the assessment. We welcome you to continue individual therapy beyond the ESA evaluation if you and your therapist determine it would be beneficial.

When will I receive my ESA letter?

If you meet the need for an emotional support animal, you will receive your letter by email within 72 business hours of your evaluation.

Should I bring my animal to my in-person evaluation?

No. We ask that you do not bring your animal to the clinical interview. We do not assess the animal. Instead, we evaluate the individual for the need for an ESA. If you bring your animal, we will need to reschedule your appointment.

What information will you assess at the in-person appointment?

Your evaluating clinician will look into the impact that your disability has on day-to-day functioning. They will ask questions about how your disability affects you to determine if an emotional support animal could help alleviate symptoms.

Additionally, they’ll want to ensure that you are capable of caring for the animal.

Will you complete specific forms required by my housing provider?

Yes. If you meet the need for an emotional support animal, we can complete up to 2 single-page forms at no charge within 30 days of your appointment. After 30 days, the following fee schedule applies:

▸ Single page forms: $25

▸ Multi-page forms: $140 per hour billed in 15-minute increments

Note: A new ESA evaluation is required to complete any additional forms after 6 months.

If my housing provider will not accept my ESA letter, can you make any revisions?

Yes. However, we are only able to make minor revisions to our letter as it contains all the required information per the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In rare cases, a housing provider may also request that we complete additional forms or include more information in an ESA letter. While you’re certainly not obligated to provide specifics about your medical condition, we can add details upon your request. Form fees may apply.

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