RLS Is a Disability?
I was thinking recently that there is no definitive definition of what a disability is. Could restless legs syndrome (RLS) be classed as a disability?? I looked online at the Cambridge English dictionary website to see what their definition was:1
Disability – An illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do.
With that definition, I think RLS is definitely a disability!! Very few of us carry on as normal after the onset of symptoms, mainly due to the abject tiredness caused by the incessant movements.
It is not easy to obtain disability benefits
For the American Social Security benefits, it seems it has to be a severe case that has limited the sufferer's ability to work for the last 12 months. In the United Kingdom Social Security system, RLS is not recognised as a disability. Why is that??
We have our definitive definition (yes, I was wrong!!): "An illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do."1 So, RLS is a condition that stops the majority of us from doing things that other people do!!
Mild symptoms, not so much. If you are thinking of trying to claim benefit payments with minimal symptoms, don’t waste the government's time. Unfortunately, they are bogged down with applications and don’t need people making it harder for them.
My symptoms make it hard to do what other people do
If RLS is an additional condition to another syndrome or illness, then the "powers that be" take it into account when scoring for the entire impact on the claimant as a whole. The same individual symptoms still apply, even if the person has no other underlying problem.
Fatigue, irritability, frustration, inability to concentrate, even falling asleep at the drop of a hat during daytime hours – these symptoms, to name but a few, make it difficult for someone to do the things that other people do.
Acknowledgement and validation go a long way
So we should be accepted as disabled if we only suffer from RLS alone. It is the acknowledgment that we are considered disabled that makes every battle, every rant undertaken, every frustration ever felt, valid – as it is not just in our imagination. That makes it all worthwhile.
An ongoing battle
In my experience, RLS is a comorbidity for the vast majority of sufferers. I consider it strange that as soon as you develop one condition, all of these others seem to tag along! Some may be side effects of the medication for the first condition. Then you have medication for the first comorbidity, which has the odd 5 or 6 side effects...see the pattern!
It's a shame that the battle to have RLS classed as a disability is still so very real for so many of us. Hopefully, one day we will overcome those that make the decisions.
Have you taken our Sleep Disorders In America Survey yet?