How do I… do a disability assessment?

In order to claim government help for living with a disability you will have to complete a disability assessment. This can be a stressful and demanding experience, so we have gathered some helpful tips from those who have already been through the process.

Keep all of your medical records and letters and make sure you have access to online records and appointments. On the day of the interview, take a copy of all the paperwork with you, so you can refer to it if needed.

Try and keep a diary of all of your symptoms and the effects that they have on your life for a few months before your assessment. Symptoms that may have become routine for you are still severe and need to be mentioned. “Mention every little niggle”.

Speak to Citizens Advice, or the equivalent in other countries, as they are experienced in navigating the large amounts of paperwork and helping you prepare for the interview. Often people are in a difficult emotional state when trying to fill in assessments, and having the support from a third party is a big help.

When asked about your symptoms and how your condition affects your life, think about how you are on your worst days. A ‘good’ day to you almost certainly still involves many wearing symptoms, so make sure you don’t accidentally gloss over anything.

If you’re in the UK, look at subscribing to the Benefits and Work website. They have guides to applying for UK disability benefits, and some of our patients have found their diary templates and wording examples very useful.

Look or ask for tips from others on the Aspergillosis public and private Facebook support groups. Also join groups such as The ESA DLA UC & PIP Survival Guide, or the equivalent in other countries.

If you don’t get all you need from your first interview, appeal. Some departments have targets to reach for the first interview, but on appeal you may be more likely to succeed. Even if that’s not the case, you will be better prepared the second time around.

Here’s a handy video that the British Lung Foundation have produced, explaining welfare benefits and financial support in the UK

Ensuring aspergillosis is recognised as a severe health condition: As aspergillosis is such a rare condition, those drawing up disability guidelines may not be familiar with the disease. The more people know about aspergillosis, the better! The best way to do this in the UK is to get in touch with your local MP and ask them to check with the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, to ensure that aspergillosis is included as a long-term, incurable, debilitating condition. Refer your MP to the National Aspergillosis Centre for more information. The more people advocating for aspergillosis patients, the more well-known and understood a condition it will become.

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