Having said that, when someone says they are disabled, I think of someone in a wheelchair, or someone with delayed learning or someone who is visually impaired.
Wikipedia describes a disability as “an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person’s lifetime.”
When I first inquired about applying for income assistance, one of the first questions they asked me was if I had a disability. I immediately said no. They said “Are you sure? Not even depression or anxiety?” I still said no, even though my depression and anxiety were at an all-time low.
I thought about it afterwards. Depression doesn’t compare to not being able to hear or see or walk, does it? It turns out that it’s not about which disability is better or worse than another. According to the BC Coalition of People with a Disability, any condition is considered a disability if;
- Your disability must be severe and be expected to last for at least two years, and
- It must directly and significantly restrict your ability to perform daily living activities.
Additionally, because of this disability, you require:
- Significant help from another person, or
- Help from an assistive device (e.g. a wheelchair, CPAP machine, LED light), or
- Help from an assistance animal
So, as long as you can prove the above, you are considered to be a person with a disability whether you have depression, poor eye-sight or a spinal-cord injury.
Fast forward nine-months from that first call to income assistance and I found myself applying for PWD status (persons with a disability). This is a time-consuming, three part process, but the question to keep in mind throughout is “how does your disability affect your life and your ability to take care of yourself?”
If your application has all the components the government is looking for, then you get PWD status. Comparing it to income assistance, PWD is much better because;
- The base rate you receive is higher.
- You can make up to $800/month before you have to claim any income.
- You are not required to look for a job.
- You can get a yearly bus pass for all zones for just $45.
- You have access to training grants for upgrading your skills or getting a degree.
- You are eligible for a range of medical supplies to be paid for.
So for me yes, depression is a disability. It has severely affected my life and my ability to take care of myself. Being on PWD would help me get back on my feet, allow me to upgrade my skills and act as a back-up plan should I ever find myself in a situation like this again. Another month or so and I’ll find out if the government agrees with me, my advocate, my doctor and my assessor.
What do you consider a disability?