Please share about yourself, your experience with the disability assistance benefit, and anything else you would like people to know.
My name is Natasha, and I am a 26 year old female who lives in North Delta with my parents and my younger sister. I became a paraplegic ten years ago and have Morquio Syndrome (a rare genetic disability that affects my bones and growth (I am a little person)). I became a paraplegic as a result of a spinal stroke during a neck surgery that I had the September of 2010. This stroke resulted in me not being able to use my legs any more.
Now that I am a young adult I would like to move out of my parent’s house, but am unable to afford my own place – never mind the cost of having a live in support person. I find this to be my biggest obstacle as living at home with my parents, both of who are very supportive of things I would like to do, I am fortunate to not have to pay for everything like I would have to do if I was living by myself. I have heard from other people who get the Disability Assistance from the BC government that it is not enough per month to live a comfortable life. One of the many additional aspects that comes along with having a disability, whether that be physical or mental/intellectual, is having to pay for extra items such as appointments, various therapies or medical equipment (lifts, medicine, catheters, etc.). These ‘extra’ costs can add up over time resulting in a person potentially not having enough money for food, transportation, clothing etc.
The way the Disability Assistance is currently set up at the moment, recipients of this assistance have to fill out a form at the end of every month. The form asks, among other questions: 1) are you still need of this assistance; 2) is there any warrant out for you; and 3) your monthly income or other forms of money you have coming in. These three questions I find to be offensive questions. Specifically, the question about income and money makes it sound like people who have a disability can’t hold on to a good paying job and are not capable of earning extra money. Never mind the yearly cap on how much additional money those with disabilities is able to earn (this cap is currently (as of October 24, 2020) set at $1200.00). By asking if we are still in need of assistance it is almost presuming that disabilities disappear after a certain time. The majority of people who receive the disability assistance payments have some form of disability that does not disappear over time so asking if you still need the assistance is morally wrong! I feel the same way about asking if there is a warrant out for your arrest. Does this question even need to be asked?
One thing that I would like people to know is that just because I am in a wheelchair and use a wheelchair to get around, does not mean I need to be treated any differently than a regular able bodied person. I can still do the majority of the same things an able bodied person can I might just have to do them differently or it might take me longer to do something an able bodied person can do. Growing up my parents were the kind that if I wanted to do something they would help me do it and by doing this helped me to realize that even though I have a physical disability I should not let that prevent me from doing what I want to.
What do you dream support for people with disabilities could look like?
In my ideal world, people with disabilities would have as much support available to them as needed. This would also not include any of the existing paperwork or other long process that people, such as myself, that have disabilities have to go through in order to access the current support services.
Likes and Loves:
The TV show Supernatural (just finished airing its 15th and final season), the colour purple, cats, reading books (really enjoy the romance and SCI-fi/fantasy genres), crafts, watching TV and Netflix.