Thousands of Anxiety and Panic Attack Sufferers Missing Out On UK Disability Benefits
In a previous article, I discussed the JAN - the Job Accommodation Network, and just how valuable a resource that link is to those of us who are disabled, yet still working.
Also in that article, we left me as the VP-HR for an entire Ship Repair Yard. As you can probably imagine, my job description was very extensive. For example, consider the following.
* I was responsible for, and/or did all the work for Employee Relations; Labor Relations; compensation; benefits; Workers Compensation (averaging 300-400 incidents per year). We had a Training Center, on site that was my responsibility. I also personally handled all of the Employment litigation. This meant representing the Shipyard in court and other legal/labor proceedings.
* Each day was crammed full of meetings, crises, activities, etc.
* The job required extensive patience, experience, maturity, tact, expertise, and the ability to remain calm in the middle of multiple crises.
So, I received the conclusive diagnosis, and, probably like you, I thought I could still do my job. The day I knew that I had to cut back will remain always in my mind: I had a Craft Manager (Painters) and his Union Business Agent and Shop Steward in my office, very agitated; I had the Safety Director and an employee out in the hallway; I had the Executive VP for Production on my cell phone; and I had the Owner on my land line (phone). All were talking (yelling) at me at once. Now, this was typical, but for the first time I froze; I could not multi-task effectively to provide the customer service to all of these clients in the manner that they deserved. My vision left (big black holes in my right eye; 'heat waves' in my left - Optic Neuritis); my MS had reached the stage that I was too tired and too befuddled to effectively manage the work.
So, what was I to do? Now remember, even w-a-y back then I was an Expert Patient; a Chronic Disease Self-Manager; and practiced Patient-Oriented health care with my Doctors. It is probably not a surprise to you that I also was a very collaborative Executive with my fellow Ship Repair Yard Executives, including the Owner. I knew that he would work with me to come up with a plan to allow me to continue working to the full extent of my capabilities, but I NEEDED TO ACCEPT AND TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY for describing WHAT that looked like, HOW that would happen, WHO needed to do what, WHEN all steps needed to happen, and HOW to ensure that the process followed all relevant federal, state, local laws, company policy, vendor regulations, etc.
Sounds like a big job, doesn't it? Well, looking back, it was. But, in the moment, at the time, I did what I recommend that you do as you begin the process. DO NOT think of the entire process; focus on the end result, always keep it in mind, but set up a plan, stick to the plan, and take things one step at a time. (Just the way one eats an elephant - one bite at a time!)
AND, you get a big advantage over what I was facing! I've been there before you; I faced the problem, worked out the following process, and have been blessed with the ability to share it with you. Hopefully, you too will be successful with your own journey.
The Journey From Working Full Time to Working With a Disability. (Note: this blog is only describing the steps in the process. For greater detail and copies of the documents in the process, they, and the actual examples I used, can be found at the www.disabilitykey.com website, in the Disabilitykey Workbook.)
Step #1: Know where you are going, and begin your journey in enough time to keep control over the process of getting there!
* Recognize that the end goal is to create a process that will be a 'win-win' for both you and your company. The goal for the company is to retain you, a valuable employee, and your knowledges, skills and abilities. Define this goal for yourself; do you want to go on LTD (long term disability); do you want to retain your income at a level amount; what do you want?
* Start this process early enough so that you retain control over your future, as I did. Do NOT wait until your supervisor comes to you and says that you have a problem - you aren't getting your work done, etc. At that time, you have already lost control, because your supervisor would have talked to your Human Resources Department, and they would have attempted to set up a plan for you. Now, not to sound too paranoid, but in my experience, most HR folks are woefully deficient in knowing what to do in these circumstances (yes, I know, another challenge for me to accept, and I do have plans to address this situation); and, any plan that they would/could come up with probably would not benefit you as well as the company.
* DO NOT TALK to your supervisor or to Human Resources until after you have developed your plan.
Step #2: Gather up all relevant documents.
* Collect all copies of your benefit Summary Plan Descriptions (SPD).
* Get a copy of your Company's Employee Handbook.
* Get your Job Description. Also, go to your Human Resources department, and see if you can get copies of other job descriptions for jobs other than your own that you believe that you might be able to do, in spite of your condition's symptom impairments.
* Access the JAN website and print out the information about your specific condition. Look particularly at the examples other companies have made as reasonable accommodations for employees with symptom impairments similar to yours. It is important to do some research here. Look at conditions similar to yours, and the symptom impairments for those conditions. Continue to research until you find just what matches YOUR specific situation.
Thousands of Anxiety and Panic Attack sufferers miss out on Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance in the United Kingdom every year. Why? Because many are not aware that they are eligible and so simply do not apply.
Disability Benefits are not means tested and are not affected by savings. Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance are awarded based on the applicants need.
Anxiety and Panic Attack sufferers aged 16 to 65 should claim Disability Living Allowance if their condition is such that they require help from another person with personal care and/or getting around.
Disability Living Allowance comprises two components, the care component and the mobility component, the applicant must have needed the support for a minimum of three months.
If Anxiety or Panic Attacks inhibit a persons mobility to the extent where they are unable to go out without the support of another person, because they may Panic, run off into the Road, or need support and encouragement, then they may be eligible for the Lower Rate of the Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance.
To qualify, the applicant must satisfy the disability condition for the lower rate mobility, the applicant must be 'so severely disabled physically or mentally', that they cannot walk outdoors 'without guidance or supervision from another person most of the time'.
If the sufferer needs support and encouragement from another person to manage their personal care, such as reminding to have a wash, help washing and bathing, reminding to take medication, help choosing clothes and getting dressed, support when having an Anxiety or Panic Attack, then they may be eligible for the care component of Disability Living Allowance.
The lower rate care component may be awarded if 'you are so severely disabled physically or mentally that you cannot prepare a meal for yourself if you have the ingredients' or 'you are so severely disabled physically or mentally that you require in connection with your bodily functions, attention from another person for a significant portion of the day, whether during a single period or a number of periods'.
To qualify for the middle rate care component, the sufferer must require 'continual supervision throughout the day in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others', or require similar supervision throughout the night. The higher rate may be awarded if the sufferer requires supervision both day and night.
Anxiety or Panic Attack sufferers aged 65 or over, should apply for Attendance Allowance, and should have needed support from another person for a minimum of six months. There is no mobility component for Attendance Allowance, and only two rates of the care component. To qualify for the lower rate care component, the claimant must require 'continual supervision throughout the day or night in order to avoid substantial danger to yourself or others', to qualify for the higher rate, the claimant must require this supervision both day and night.
If Anxiety or Panic Attack suffers are not sure if they are eligible, the Disability Benefits helpline can advise. If in doubt, claim! It is advisable to seek the help of a Welfare Rights organization when completing the claim form, as they will be familiar with the qualifying rules, and can gather the right information for a successful claim.
Millions of pounds of Disability Benefits go unclaimed every year in the UK, if you meet the qualifying rules, its your right, claim it for the help you need to manage Anxiety and Panic Attacks.
About The Author
Ali Sinclair is an accredited Welfare Officer (Institute of Welfare Officers), and is currently studying Social Care. Ali works in local government, her work involves advising on Welfare Benefits and Disability Benefits.
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