UK welfare benefits

People who have been diagnosed with scleroderma are often entitled to disability support. Your symptoms may mean that you can't work or that you have to reduce your working hours. You may need some extra help with everyday tasks and in taking care of yourself. Disabled people can claim a number of welfare benefits in the UK.

Who counts as disabled?

Under the Equality Act 2010 you are defined as disabled if you have:

'A physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities'.

There are four terms here that can help you identify whether your scleroderma-related problems define you as disabled:

Physical and mental impairments

Scleroderma is likely to fall within the remit of physical impairment – a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. It is important to note however that the condition affects individuals in a variety of ways. It is often a progressive condition (the condition will change and develop over time) and impairments will occur at different periods of your life. This can also include the impact scleroderma has on your mental wellbeing.

Long-term condition

A long-term condition is defined as a condition that has lasted for at least 12 months or will continue to affect the individual for the rest of his or her life. Scleroderma is a life-long condition and so satisfies this definition.

Substantial

Scleroderma symptoms can fluctuate: for instance temperature changes, especially exposure to cold environments, might exacerbate symptoms. Other symptoms may be ongoing and develop as the condition progresses. It is important to note that if you can identify activities that you cannot do, or can only do with difficulty as a result of your condition, then you satisfy this definition. This is regardless of time of year, medicine you are taking or stage of your condition.

Effect on day-to-day activities

Day to day activities are those that are carried out on a regular basis. They can include activities undertaken in the working environment such as typing or reading. Whether or not you satisfy this term will depend upon the type of scleroderma you have and your symptoms.

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