Disability • Types, Degrees & Aids

People of all ages can be affected by a disability. In order to receive state benefits, the degree of disability is determined. What you should know about it and what help is available for people with disabilities.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, 7.8 million people with a severe disability lived in Germany at the end of 2021 – this corresponds to 9.4 percent of the population. Anyone who is affected by a disability usually has to take on additional time, organizational and financial expenses in everyday life. The Federal Government has set itself the goal of continuously removing barriers for people with disabilities (accessibility) and enabling them to participate in social life in a self-determined and equal manner. Among other things, there is a right to the so-called “disadvantage compensation”.

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What is a disability?

There is no universal definition of disability. What counts as a disability in a society depends, among other things, on social and cultural norms. Today, the term “disability” is viewed primarily on a social level. Because barriers in the environment and negative attitudes of fellow human beings make it difficult for people with physical or mental disabilities to participate unhindered in social life.

In the Ninth Book of Social Law (Section 2, Paragraph 1 of Book IX of the Social Code), disability is defined as follows: “People with disabilities are people who have physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments that interact with barriers related to attitudes and the environment to equal participation in society society with high probability longer than six months. An impairment according to sentence 1 exists if the physical and health condition deviates from the condition typical for the age. People are at risk of disability if impairment according to sentence 1 is to be expected.”

causes of disability

People can live with a disability for a variety of reasons. For example, a child may already be born with a disability – for example because of a chromosomal disorder such as trisomy 21. It is also possible for a disability to be acquired later in life. For example, because a person is paralyzed after a stroke and is in a wheelchair. A disability can also result from an accident or an occupational disease.

What types of disabilities are there?

Disabilities are not uniform, fixed groups. Rather, the various designations are understood as collective terms, which are based on different causes and which can have various manifestations and characteristics.

The various terminology are always in public discourse and are sometimes considered problematic. The reason: Certain designations – such as mental disability – can lead to stigmatization. Therefore, alternative designations are often used or at least required. The term “people with disabilities” is currently considered politically correct. In this context, the description “suffering from a disability” or the term “damage” instead of “impairments” should be avoided.

The following disabilities are mentioned in the definition of disability in the Ninth Social Code:

  • physical disability/physical handicap: This term includes all manifestations and degrees of severity of physical movement restrictions. Such disabilities arise, for example, from damage to the supporting and musculoskeletal system. These include damage to the central nervous system that has led to paraplegia or the loss of limbs as a result of an accident.

  • Mental disability/emotional disability: People may have a disability because of symptoms of a mental disorder. This is the case, for example, when someone is no longer able to go to work or to take care of themselves because of their depression.

  • Mental disability: Intellectual disability affects cognitive abilities, and the severity of these limitations varies from person to person. In medicine, intellectual disability is defined as an intellectual disability. It manifests itself as a developmental delay in infancy or childhood, for example in language development. Mental retardation can be caused by genetic defects or acquired impairments. In fetal alcohol syndrome, for example, alcohol abuse during pregnancy causes damage to the unborn child in the womb.

  • sensory impairment: In the case of a sensory impairment, the sense of sight, hearing, touch or smell is limited and cannot be restored with aids. This includes, for example, hearing loss or congenital blindness.

There are also other terms for different forms of disabilities. These include, for example, disabilities caused by chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Other types of disability are also listed as generic terms and are often not clearly defined. For example, a person with a learning disability may have difficulty in learning areas such as reading or arithmetic, with a speech disability, language development may be delayed, or the flow of speech may be impaired as with stuttering. Such disabilities are not necessarily associated with reduced intelligence.


What is the degree of disability?

The degree of disability (GdB) is intended to provide information about the mental, emotional, physical and social effects of a disability that influence participation in social life. It is needed to get an assessment of how much a disability affects the person in all areas of life. Anyone wishing to claim compensation for disadvantages must also have the degree determined beforehand. It does not provide any information about a person’s ability to perform in their working life.

  • Application: The degree of disability is determined by the responsible pension office – it is based on the principles of medical care. These include all relevant diseases and their characteristics. The application can often be submitted online. When applying, it is important to describe your own state of health as precisely as possible and to enclose medical reports.

  • Significance: It is given in grades of ten from 20 to 100. The higher the number, the more severe the disability. However, there are no percentages behind the numbers. A severely disabled person has a degree of at least 50. Persons with a lower GdB can be treated equally if their degree of disability is at least 30 and they could not get or keep a suitable job because of their disability without this equality.

  • self-evaluation: Die Supply Medicine Ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is a public document and can be viewed online. However, the evaluation turns out to be very complex. If you want to determine your degree of disability yourself before submitting the application or if you doubt the judgment afterwards, you should seek professional advice. The social organizations offer help – such as the Social association VdK Germany eV or Social Association Germany eV

Degree of disability: GdB table

The degree of damage consequences (GdS) is specified in the supply medicine regulation. GdB and GdS are measured according to the same principles. The following areas are recorded in the table:

  • head and face
  • nervous system and psyche
  • Sehorgan
  • organ of hearing and balance
  • Nose
  • Oral cavity, pharynx and upper airways
  • chest, lower airways and lungs
  • heart and circulation
  • digestive organs
  • fractures (hernias)
  • Harnorgane
  • male sex organs
  • female sex organs
  • metabolism, internal secretion
  • Blood, blood-forming organs, immune system
  • High
  • Postural and locomotor organs, rheumatic diseases

What benefits do people with disabilities receive?

People with and without disabilities should be able to participate in social life unhindered and with equal rights. The term inclusion has become established for this. Everyone should be accepted and included. This means, for example, that students with disabilities can attend a regular school with the help of school attendants.

In terms of inclusion, people with disabilities have various services available to compensate for any disadvantages. Examples of such services are:

  • Special regulations for people with severe disabilities: You may be able to apply for special benefits related to the world of work or everyday life. These include, for example, special protection against dismissal, more vacation days, earlier retirement, tax breaks and discounts on local public transport or on admission to cultural institutions. As a rule, compensation for disadvantages must be applied for, in many cases it is necessary to have a severely disabled ID card with the appropriate markings.

  • personal budget: This gives people with disabilities more freedom to make decisions. Instead of benefits in kind, you receive money and can independently decide which services you want to spend on.

  • Offers of help for education and work: The Federal Employment Agency offers one on its website Overview of financial support options. If the income you earn is not sufficient, you can also apply for unemployment benefit II. If it is not possible to work due to the disability, there is also a right to basic security.

  • integration assistance: People with disabilities are entitled to various benefits in terms of integration assistance – such as necessary support with housing, at school, at work or medical rehabilitation. Among other things, it is possible to apply for a special budget for training.

  • Support for parents who have children with disabilities: Special conditions may apply to maternity benefit, parental benefit and child benefit. Parents can also apply for services such as the personal budget for their children.

  • Help for caregivers: You have to deal with a considerable amount of additional work in your everyday life. There are various ways to support them – from financial support to family care leave.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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