Financial status/access to benefits
Having a condition such as Narcolepsy may affect your financial situation. Your ability to earn an income may go down because of the effects of your health problems, so it is important to find out if there are any benefits you can claim. Even if you are still working there may be other benefits you are entitled to.
The benefits system is complex, and the rules often change. However, there are a number of organisations and resources that can help you discover how to claim your full entitlement.
Sources of information:
Citizens Advice – offers advice on debt, benefits, housing, employment, immigration and consumer rights. You can find details of your Local Citizens Advice Bureau from their website or in your local phone book.
Directgov – an information and advice website which includes descriptions of benefits and eligibility.
Advice Now – an independent, not-for-profit website that provides information across a range of rights and legal issues including claiming benefits.
Disability Alliance – A national registered charity aiming to relieve poverty and improve the living standards of disabled people. Their website provides information and advice on social security benefits and tax credits for disabled people, their families and carers.
Benefits Enquiry Line – Government helpline offering confidential advice and information about social security benefits, how to claim and assistance in completing application forms.
Tel: 0800 88 22 00
Narcolepsy - epetition response
We received a petition asking:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to formally recognise narcolepsy as a disability."
Details of Petition:
"The Disability Discrimination Act defines a disabled person as 'someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.' Narcolepsy is a physical impairment that has a substantial effect on a sufferer’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Narcolepsy is deemed acceptable grounds for exemption from jury service. Disclosure of the condition to the DVLA is mandatory for narcoleptic drivers. Yet narcolepsy is not recognised as a disability. This means the ‘Two Tick’ scheme, introduced to discourage discrimination against disabled people in recruitment, does not apply to narcoleptics, and means they face extreme difficulty in trying to access Disability Living Allowance despite the need for specialist care (e.g. needing someone present when cooking in case the sufferer falls asleep and starts a fire). The purpose of this petition is to implore the government to recognise this debilitating condition as a disability."
· Read the petition
· Petitions homepage
Read the Government’s response
When considering the definition of disability, it is important to take into account the specific purpose for which the determination of a disability is required, and this can vary considerably. Because of the need to consider individual factors when determining whether a person is entitled to protection under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), or may have an entitlement to a social security benefit or certain wider schemes or benefits provided to disabled people, it is not possible to establish a single means of determining disability.
The definition used in the DDA is specifically for the purposes of determining who is protected from disability discrimination in a range of areas of life including employment, education and access to goods and services. The DDA sets out a general definition who is a disabled person for the purposes of the Act. That is a person who has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Thus the DDA does not, in general, provide a list of impairments that are covered by its provisions, but instead it considers the effect of the impairment on each individual. As long as a person meets the Act’s definition of a disabled person, they will benefit from its protection, regardless of whether or not their impairment is immediately obvious. A person with narcolepsy will, therefore, be classed as disabled for the purposes of the Act if the effect of their impairment is substantial enough to meet the various requirements of the definition.
In contrast to the DDA, social security legislation does not include any definition of disability. This is because benefits are payable to disabled people on the basis of their particular circumstances or their care and mobility needs. Individual benefits have different qualifying conditions, which are set out in legislation and decisions on entitlement depend on a number of factors, which may include medical evidence.
Disability Living Allowance is not based on the diagnosis of a particular disability or illness but on the effects of disability on the individual person.
This means that entitlement to Disability Living Allowance is determined by the degree that each individual is affected by their disability. It is the information about care and/or mobility needs which a person provides on the claim form, supported by medical reports where necessary, which determine entitlement.
Disability Living allowance is not compensation for being disabled, nor is it paid for particular disabling conditions. Instead it is a contribution to the extra costs faced by severely disabled people as a result of their care and/or mobility needs. Therefore, if a person has Narcolepsy, entitlement to Disability Living Allowance will be based on the level of supervision or attention required inside and outside the home arising from that condition.
The Disability Symbol or ‘Two Ticks Scheme’ as it is sometimes referred to, is a voluntary agreement, not covered by any legislation, and is awarded by Jobcentre Plus to employers who are committed to the employment of disabled people. It is not specific about disabilities or who determines them, as this is determined under the DDA.
The first commitment of the disability symbol is to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities. Under this commitment, an employer must ensure that any applicant, who considers himself or herself to be disabled, has the opportunity to declare their disability and request a guaranteed interview should they wish to do so. Any disputes about a person’s disability would be between the employer and (potential) employee and would be determined under the DDA, not the disability symbol. In any such cases, Jobcentre Plus would refer the applicant to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for advice.ntent here