Disability Benefits 101…

One question that keeps cropping up – and I’ve addressed it here several times – is “Will a particular illness qualify me for/entitle me to DLA?” The answer is no.

Having an illness – any illness – is not a qualification for claiming any sort of disability benefits. What matters – and it’s the only thing that does matter – is the degree of disability the illness causes.

The principal criterion for DLA mobility, for example, is your walking ability. Incapacity Benefit takes into account a wider range of things (though walking ability dominates there too), but it’s still disability that counts. How ill you feel, I’m afraid, counts for nothing.

Today (January 11 2009), a different version of the question appeared “does copd qualify as a disability”, but the answer remains the same – no. An illness – any illness – is not, per se, a disability. What makes an illness disabling is its severity. COPD, specifically, can be anything from an inconvenience to a terminal illness – and most of us who have it will experience all the stages. At some point it will become severe enough to rank as a disability. The point at which you are diagnosed may be that point – though I would expect a diagnosis to happen long before that stage, not least because increasing your overall level of fitness can have a beneficial effect on COPD – just because it’s difficult to breathe doesn’t mean you should just give up. COPD – in most people – is caused by smoking, so the first priority is to quit. (I have severe COPD, though I’ve never smoked, but my health, and my long-term prospects, have been substantially impaired by a lifetime of other people’s smoke). Don’t cut down, or phase it out – just stop – the longer you carry on smoking, the sooner you’ll die. It really is that simple.

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