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Hypermobility is a disability for some people. But for others, it’s not. The symptoms you experience and the way it impacts your life, determines whether your hypermobile is a dyability or not.
So, let’s find out more about when hypermobility is and isn’t a disability and whether you can claim support from the government.
Is hypermobility a disability?
The UK government states that you’re disabled if you have “a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”.
While hypermobility itself is not considered a disability, it can cause a range of symptoms and related conditions that may affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities. As a result, they could be classed as disabled.
Hypermobility is often connected with other conditions, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. These conditions may impact a person’s ability to work, study, or carry out other daily activities. As a result, they may qualify for disability benefits under certain circumstances.
If your hypermobility stops you from completing your normal daily activities, or you have a conditions linked to hypermobility that severely impacts your life, you’re likely to be considered disabled.
Is hypermobility a special need?
Hypermobility can be a special need. For example, hypermobility often affects the bladder. Primarily, it impacts the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder.
Therefore, people with hypermobility may experience urinary incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine. This occurs when the bladder is under stress, such as during coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. In some cases, hypermobility leads to a prolapsed bladder, which, in females, occurs when the bladder drops down into the vagina.
A sudden and immediate urge to urinate is also common. This is a special need that schools and workplaces must take into consideration.
Reasonable adjustments should be made so that a school child is allowed to use the toilet during lesson time and not just during break times. Similarly, an employee with a hypermobile bladder will need more comfort breaks than a colleague without hypermobility.
Is hypermobility a chronic illness?
Hypermobility can be a chronic illness. It’s normally defined as being chronic if it’s linked to another chronic condition, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), Marfan syndrome, or osteogenesis imperfecta (OI).
People with hypermobility who experience no ill effects, including joint pain or regular dislocations, won’t normally be described as having chronic hypermobility.
Does hypermobile EDS qualify for disability?
Just like joint hypermobility, hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) can be a disability. The joints of people with hEDS typically have a greater range of motion than people with other forms of hypermobility.
This can result in severe fatigue, joint pain and dislocations. Hypermobility and subluxations are common together too. Should these symptoms bother you daily and make you want to curl up in bed and cry rather than get on with your daily life, it could be because your hEDS is so severe that you have a disability.
Can you claim PIP for hypermobility?
Yes, it is possible to claim PIP for hypermobility. PIP is also known as Personal Independence Payment. It is given to people who have:
- a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
- difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
There are two parts to PIP; daily living and mobility. PIP is only awarded to people aged 16 and over. Children with hypermobility who are disabled by their condition may qualify for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Be warned, though. It’s not always easy to be accepted for PIP. Often, people have to appeal to be given the money benefits they are entitled to.
The good news is that Hypermobility Syndrome is featured on the list of musculoskeletal conditions that PIP supports.
How to claim PIP for hypermobility
To claim PIP, you need to request a PIP1 form from DWP. You can do this by calling 0800 917 2222.
The next step is to fill in the form and send it back. You’ll then hear back from DWP. This might be to invite you for an assessment. Or, they may send you an acceptance or rejection notice.
In 2022, EDS-UK had an in-depth conversation with Capita (who works with DWP). EDS-UK answered questions that Capita asked them to help them understand hypermobility better. They also pointed out that having a good range of movement doesn’t mean they’re pain-free.
It is hoped that the points and concerns raised by EDS-UK, make it easier for people with hypermobility to claim PIP.
Full details of the consultation can be found here.
Can you get a disabled badge for hypermobility?
It’s possible that you could get a disabled badge for your hypermobility. The blue badge scheme allows you to park closer to your destination. You may also get free or reduced rate parking charges.
The eligibility criteria for a blue badge may vary slightly between different regions of the UK, but the general criteria are:
- People who receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
- People who receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with a score of at least 8 points for the “moving around” activity.
- People who are registered blind or partially sighted.
- People who receive a War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement.
- People who have a permanent and substantial disability that means they cannot walk or find walking very difficult.
- People who have a hidden disability that means they have substantial difficulty walking, and/or have a severe anxiety condition, or have difficulty planning and following a journey.
If your hypermobility causes severe joint pain that severely limits your mobility, you may qualify for a blue badge.
But it’s important to note that not every disabled person is eligible for a blue badge. As of the end of March 2021, 2.35 million people had a blue badge. Yet, there were 10.44 million registered disabled people in the UK that year.
Many people with hypermobility can live a normal life. But if your hypermobility has a negative impact on your ability to do everyday tasks, go to work, or attend an educational setting, your hypermobility may be a disability.
This guide is aimed at UK readers.