Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) get to enjoy benefits that younger and able-bodied people are not entitled to. For instance, when transacting in government and commercial establishments, they do not need to stand in long lines and wait for several minutes or even hours to be accommodated. Instead, they can line up in a separate area called a priority lane where there are usually fewer people, thereby expediting the time it takes for them to accomplish what they need to do. They are also given reserved seats whenever they take the bus, which allows them to have a comfortable trip. Aside from that, they have their own parking space when they go to malls, restaurants, hospitals, or offices. This saves them the trouble of having to walk far. Moreover, they can avail of discounts on medications, medical supplies, medical and dental services, domestic air and sea travel fares, transportation fees, hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, skyway and tollway fees, and funeral and burial services. All of these privileges are made possible by a Senior Citizen or PWD ID.
Although the Senior Citizen and PWD IDs provide holders with a similar set of benefits, they differ in terms of coverage and qualification criteria. The Senior Citizen ID is granted to people who are 60 years old and above, which means everyone has a chance to be eligible for it. On the other hand, the PWD ID has a more limited scope, catering exclusively to those with disabilities. In short, people without any disabilities are not eligible for the PWD ID.
However, the term ‘PWD’ is not as straightforward as the term ‘senior citizen.’ What may be a disability to some may not be a disability to others. Because of this confusion, some PWDs have failed to apply for an ID, depriving themselves of the benefits that are owed to them. Conversely, some non-PWDs have managed to obtain IDs using their connections, taking advantage of the privileges that PWDs should be enjoying. Thus, there is a need to verify who exactly falls under the PWD category.
According to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF), there are three areas that comprise the term ‘disability’. These are impairment, activity limitation, and participation restriction. An impairment is a problem a person encounters with his or her physical or mental function. An activity limitation is a struggle a person goes through in performing a particular activity. A participation restriction is a person’s inability to be properly involved in everyday situations. Hence, persons with disabilities are individuals suffering from any physical or mental condition that puts restrictions on their capacity to do certain tasks and immerse themselves in their environment.
Disabilities can be broken down into different types. The Republic Act (RA) No. 7277, more commonly known as Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, states that PWD ID applicants are classified under seven disability categories.
- Psychosocial disability
A psychosocial disability pertains to any psychological or social condition that limits a person’s ability to effectively interact with others. People with this disability look fine from the outside but have a tendency to display anti-social behavior.
- Disability caused by chronic illness
A disability caused by chronic illness is a disability that results from complications brought about by the worsening of a chronic medical condition. For example, a person living with diabetes may suffer from complications such as diabetic retinopathy and sepsis due to the inability of his or her body to process sugar. Diabetic retinopathy can cause one to go blind, while sepsis can force one to have his or her limbs removed or experience heart problems, which could result in a stroke.
- Learning disability
A learning disability is a disability that makes it difficult for a person to focus, comprehend, and retain information. It is usually detected and diagnosed during a person’s time in school.
- Mental disability
A mental disability is a mental illness-triggered disability. People with Down syndrome, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia belong to this disability bracket.
- Visual disability
Unlike other disabilities, a visual disability is considered a disability only when it can no longer be corrected. This means that a person who can still see clearly while wearing eyeglasses is not yet classified as visually impaired, regardless of the grade of his or her eyeglasses.
- Orthopedic disability
An orthopedic disability refers to a disability that interferes with the ability of the joints, muscles, or limbs to function normally. It includes people with spina bifida, paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia, cerebral palsy, and polio.
- Communication disability
A communication disability is a disability with two sub-types: hearing impairment and speech and language impairment. A person is said to be hearing impaired when he or she partially or completely lose his or her hearing ability. Meanwhile, a person with a speech and language impairment has trouble articulating words.
With the difficulties PWDs face on a daily basis, the PWD ID can definitely make things easier for them. Therefore, it should not be misused and should reach the right people. Remember that PWDs are not just persons with disabilities. They are persons who deserve compassion.