Offensive Thinking

Brain tumors suck. Hi, I'm Patrick btw. This is my cancer blog. My "normal" stuff is over here.

Disability Passes in Germany

Learning to walk again? I'll just use my hands, thank you very much
Learning to walk again? I'll just use my hands, thank you very much

Another two stable MRIs since my last blog post, just so you’re up to date. My oncologist is already joking that they’re copy and paste. So what is new, apart from the awesome vacation I had in Panama where this blog post’s picture was taken?

Since last year, I own a German disability pass. My wife insisted on me applying for it and at first, I was a bit sceptical about the benefits, but now I think it was wise to get one. I’m writing this because some weeks ago, I read Liz’ blog post about brain tumors and disability. I know nothing about how and when people can obtain disability passes in the US, and I guess it is different between states. So let me just explain how it works in Germany, which is quite differentiated, a good thing in my opinion.

In her blog post, Liz mentions that she would be able to get a handicapped placard for her car if she wanted one, but she refrains from getting it because she doesn’t need it. I can totally relate to that. However, I strongly doubt that I would be able to get such a placard here in Germany. Here, it works as follows: when you apply for a pass and they decide that you are eligible for one, they will give you a “Grad der Behinderung” (grade of disability), which lies between 50-100, rounded to multiples of 10. This grade determines what kinds of disadvantage compensations you get, e.g. better job protection (you cannot be dismissed as quickly as others because with your disability, you might have less chances of getting a new job), additional vacation days and also tax benefits.

In addition to this grade, you might get (depending on your disability) so-called “Merkmale” (attributes), like “Bl” (blindness), “aG” (außergewöhnliche Gehbehinderung, extraordinary walking disability) etc. Only with some of these attributes you are entitled for a disability placard for your car, which allows you to park in parking spots for the disabled.

I have a grade of disability of 100, as with malignant brain tumors, you get at least 80. The additional 20 are for the epilepsy, and will be evaluated again in 2016. If I don’t have problems with epilepsy any longer by then, I will get “downgraded” to 80. I don’t have any attributes, so I cannot park my car in a parking spot for the disabled or use public transport for free or anything like that.

The abovementioned compensations are regulated for the whole country, but single establishments oftentimes also decide to have for example discounts for people with a disability, like theaters or zoos. But this is entirely up to them and not regulated in any way.

I am in great shape currently and don’t need any benefits that I would get if I had one of the attributes, so I won’t get them, which is fine by me. As the location of my tumor can affect my motor skills however, it is good to know that I can apply for this in the future, if any problems arise. I can remember vividly how it felt when I had to relearn how to walk. I’m also self-employed, so things like additional vacation days or better protection against dismissal don’t give me any advantages either, but I think it is good that other people with disabilities get these compensations. The tax benefits are a nice touch, but it’s nothing huge, as some of them are also dependent on the attributes.

So all in all, if you can get a disability pass in Germany, don’t be ashamed and apply for it. The process is not very complicated, you just fill out some forms and allow them to get the necessary information about your illness from your MD.