Sunday, March 06, 2005

Disabled or simply impaired?

Mudfud offered this insight in a difficult situation:
I've been in conversations where a medical professional has basically said that their patient will never succeed in getting a job, or holding a job, or being successful because of their disease. Yes, obviously, someone who is severely depressed will be likely to have some problems in the job department. But, if they are compliant with treatment, then they do have a real chance of being successful.
In my job reviewing medical records for disability claims, I am often disappointed when I see doctors recommend "disability retirement" or that the patient "go on disability" as part of the treatment for a disease that has resulted in an impairment.

I've seen letters from employers who are trying to use disability to get rid of "problem" employees. After all, isn't it easier to have an able bodied employee who never misses work for medical appointments and doesn't need any accomodations to do their job. Why put out the effort to help someone who could "just go on disability."

A patient may be impaired by a medical process, but may be able to do their job if properly treated or if the doctor helped the patient explore reasonable accomodations. Unfortunately, it is often easier to recommend that the patient avoid the difficult situation rather than to be an enabler of capacity and help the patient discover new ways to do things or to maximize treatment.

MudFud described that people assumed (and some still do) that she would be unable to do what she wanted based on an impairment. However, she is proving them wrong by maximizing his abilities and minimizing impairment.

Bravo to those who persevere in light of impairment and deny disability an opportunity to grip their lives.

This is not to suggest, of course, that those who are unable to continue despite maximum effort are no less heroes.