Another item from the search engine list “Not fair, asthmatics do not get DLA”.
That’s completely wrong – where do people get these ideas? Maybe the particular asthmatic who wrote that got knocked back. All that means is that he or she may not have been severely disabled enough to qualify for DLA.
There seems to be massive ignorance regarding DLA, and what it’s for, which is why I keep writing posts like this, trying to get the message across, but the particular illness, whether it’s asthma or something else, matters little – the only thing that matters, for DLA, is the degree of disability. The name should tell you that – Disability Living Allowance.
It is quite possible to have asthma and not be disabled – as was the case with me for much of my life (other factors did for me, as regular readers may know). To take an extreme example, it’s possible to have a life-threatening illness and not qualify for DLA, if you haven’t reached the stage where you’re actually, and demonstrably, disabled. And that’s another point – you can’t just say you’re disabled, you have to show you are; this is why the form is so complex, and why so many people are subjected to medical examinations. Despite what the Daily Mail thinks, disability benefits, like DLA, are not available simply for the asking. You will also read a lot of ill-informed garbage on this subject online. I tend to ignore it – you can’t argue with morons.
Back to asthma, though, and its main feature is that it’s reversible with treatment (hence its alternate title, Reversible Obstructive Airways Disease), and this is taken into account when you apply for DLA – they ask for a list of your meds (among much else). I think any application based on respiratory illnes is likely to result in a medical examination, something that should happen only once, because if you’re bad enough to claim DLA, you’re unlikely to suddenly recover. Age is a factor as well – if you’ve had asthma for, say, 40-50 years, you may well (though not necessarily – this is just an example), reach a stage where your meds become less effective, and changing them accomplishes nothing. At this point, your doctors will probably consider whether you are moving into COPD, a condition in which your breathing restriction is less reversible, even irreversible in time. Note: not everyone with asthma will go on to develop COPD, so please, don’t assume you will; in my case, I had bronchiectasis as well, which loaded the dice in favour of COPD quite substantially.
For the average person, though, having asthma (and I know some varieties of asthma can be suddenly severe and fatal – that’s why I said average), is not a disability of itself. That does NOT mean that asthmatics can’t get DLA, as was claimed. They can, and do; you just have to be disabled enough.
Going slightly off-topic – what the hell, it’s my blog – where asthmatics, here in the UK, are penalised is in having to pay for their prescriptions. Even with COPD I didn’t get free scrips until I turned 60 (one of the few benefits of getting older). If, though, I was a few years younger, my annual bill for my meds would be £1200, which is out of the question. The argument is that I could get a pre-payment certificate, for £27.85 quarterly, or £102.50 annually. Many people on benefit, especially if they have families, just can’t afford that.