Nothing is ever finished, however. Both private disability insurance and SSDI require Continuing Disability Reviews, so even after you've been approved, there is always something to prove - again! I feel like it's all I do. Fill out paperwork, ask my doctor's office to constantly fill out paperwork and try to make phone calls to these agencies. It's a never ending loop, but if we are to continue to get the benefits we deserve, we must accept this and work within the system and hope our doctors will work with us as well.
Yesterday the mail arrives and there is a letter in my mail from our Secretary of State's office. I look at it and think to myself; no, my driver's license is current; my license plates are current, so what could it be. As I opened it, much to my surprise, it was a letter regarding my Handicapped Parking Placard. My IC doctor is the best and about 6 years ago, I went to him with an application for a Handicapped Parking Placard for my state, Illinois. He told me he believed I was deserving due to the severity of my IC/pain, but knowing how these things work he said he wasn't sure the state would see it the same way. But he said, leave the form with him, let him think about it and he'd see what he could do. So that day I walked out of the office never knowing whether it would even get submitted; we all know what paperwork in a doctor's office is like. It can be a black hole and often things fall through the cracks. I had no way of knowing if he'd actually "think about it" and fill it out and send it in. But he did. And about a month or so later, my Handicapped Parking Placard arrived in the mail. It has been a blessing. When driving to various places, if I need to pull over to use a restroom, we don't have to drive all over looking for a parking space. If I am having a particularly bad day and my pain is at its worst, I can park in a Handicapped space and not have to walk as far to get to where I am going. It really is a blessing and I don't take it for granted.
So the letter I got yesterday states that the State of Illinois General Assembly made significant changes to the Persons with Disabilities Parking Program. There are now TWO different and distinct types of permanent disability parking placards in Illinois and it depends on the type of disability and diagnosis from your physician. According to the letter, the legislature made these changes because of "significant abuse" of the system. That's another whole Blog I could write about!
Beginning January 1, 2014, only persons with specific types of disabilities will be exempt from paying parking meter fees. Who even knew I could do this? I had no idea that having a Handicapped Parking Placard meant I could park in a Handicapped space with a meter and not pay! But apparently I could have!
Now, the state is dividing individuals into two categories; those that are physically incapable of reaching parking meters in order to put the money in due to the limitations of their disability and a separate category for others who may still be deserving of a placard but will have to pay parking meter fees. OMG!
So, even though I have a full year left on my current permit (Illinois issues them for about 3 years and then you must renew and re-prove that you still need it - of course), I have to take this form to my doctor's office and ask that they complete the form AGAIN and hope that I will still meet the criteria for a Handicapped Parking Placard for people who DO have to pay parking meter fees. Who knows if the state will be looking at these new applications with a more discerning eye and perhaps decide I am no longer deserving. Maybe nothing will change.
But once again, there's always something to prove - again! It's always something and it's always stressful. When I called the Secretary of State's office to ask about this form, I was told once they receive it, because this new form has gone out to every single person in the state who currently has a Handicapped placard, it will take 90 days at least before I hear whether or not I will be renewed. So it could be Thanksgiving before I find out.
I hope my doctor's comments will be sufficient to keep things as they are now. This is something I have come to rely on. Could I live without it? Yes. Will it make my life much more challenging than it already is? Absolutely!
So if you too have a Handicapped Parking Placard and live in Illinois, be aware that this is happening.
The never ending fight to keep proving my disability goes on! Here's hoping I'll win this latest battle!