No crutches, no benefits: The disability assessment battle05.02.2017
By Alina Verbnîi
There are many battles facing people living with multiple sclerosis. In the Republic of Moldova, one of the toughest MS battlegrounds is fuelled by a poor piece of legislation: the one regarding disability assessment. Law 60 from 30 March 2012 restricts access to disability benefits as it does not mention multiple sclerosis among health conditions that enable the State to assess the level of disability, the necessary pre-condition. Article for EMSP’s Membership Newsletter.
A consequence of this Law is that people with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) cannot be assessed as disabled unless they have physical signs of disability, more typical for progressive MS. The most common symptoms of RRMS are described by specialists as “invisible”. They include fatigue, cognitive issues and pain.
Will the “real” people with MS please stand up?
The problems do not stop here. Those people with MS that pass the disability assessment test encounter yet another hurdle. The Law requires a year-by-year extension of the personal disability dossier. Not acknowledging MS, it does not take into consideration that – to date – it is an incurable condition. In practice, this can mean huge waiting queues at the hospital. Very often, people with mobility problems have to stand for hours before they can talk to a doctor.
”We need a more flexible Law, one that would enable people with MS to pass the disability assessment regardless of whether they are in an early or advanced stage of their condition. At the moment, it’s a case of no crutches, no benefits.”
President of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Moldova (MMSM), Alina Verbnîi.
Call for information
Ms Verbnîi adds that people with MS in the country could also benefit from public information campaigns on access to disability benefits:
”Some of those newly diagnosed are not even aware that they can have a disability assessment and claim related benefits, let alone being familiar with the concrete steps to follow in this process. An additional solution for this problem would be an MS Information Centre.”
In the Republic of Moldova, disability benefits include an allowance calculated according to the number of years in employment and a reduction for public transport.
MMSM estimates that more than 1,000 people live with multiple sclerosis at national level.