Disabled According to Whom?

It seems you can be disabled in the eyes of the law but not according to everyone … and it’s a trend that is really starting to worry me. 

The UK Disability Discrimination Act says that you are disabled if you have:

– a mental or physical impairment  

– this has an adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities  

– the adverse effect is substantial  

– the adverse effect is long-term (meaning it has lasted for 12 months, or is likely to last for more than 12 months or for the rest of your life).

Disability Rights Commission

You no longer are required (or indeed able to) register as disabled.  If you meet the criteria then you just are. 

So I, along with tens of thousands of M.E. sufferers, meet the criteria – thus I am disabled. 

Yet … I hear so many examples of employers being able to refuse retirement on medical grounds for ME/CFS sufferers unable to continue working because some doctors and occupational therapists say that recovery is “likely”.  Even though very few people who have been ill with ME/CFS long enough for that discussion to take place with their employer are likely to make a total recovery. 

Many will inevitably relapse even if their health does improve and even if they manage a recovery they will (sadly) almost certainly never get back to how they were before the illness began.  So their illness is definately covered by the DDA:

– If your impairment has substantially affected your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, but doesn’t any more, it will still be counted as having that effect if it is likely to do so again

– if you have a progressive condition, and it will substantially affect your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities in the future, you will be regarded as having an impairment which has a substantial adverse effect from the moment the condition has some effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities.

It just doesn’t add up.

I find myself seriously considering applying for DLA (Disability Living Allowance) not because I want or need the money but because I want the recognition of my legitimate limitations due to my ill health.

For instance, it’s rumoured that to use the disabled camping site at Glastonbury Festival this year you will need to produce evidence of your eligibility for DLA.  So to be legitimate proven disabled I need DLA?  I need to take benefits from the government that I don’t need right now just to prove something?

Now it could be that it’s just easier to access services like those at Glastonbury with DLA as proof.  I’m just concerned that providing proof is opening up doors whilst just simply asking for the help doesn’t.

When people ask for a blue badge or a DLA letter as proof of disability that seems at odds with the Disability Discrimination Act.  To be a card carrying disabled person I am required to take benefits from the government even I do not need it?  That’s assuming if you can successfully claim where so many other sufferers fail.

I’m certain this isn’t something restricted to ME/CFS.  Anyone with a mental or physical impairment which affects their daily life and which is likely to persist or has persisted for a year or more is disabled in the eyes of the law – but open to ingorance of that out in the real world. 

I like the openess of the DDA – but it feels a sort of watery label in reality.  Until we have people well enough, stubborn enough and with enough resources to take test cases to court I fear that the opening up of conditions covered by DDA will be nothing more than a good intention.

Please feel free to share with me examples of how I am wrong.  I’d like to be wrong about this.

PS: If you are looking for help and information on making a DLA application free and helpful DLA advice guide available here and if you want information on DDA and legal rights under the Act try starting at the Disablity Rights Commission

Explore posts in the same categories: cfs, chronicfatigue, disability, m.e., society

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