TO: Minister of Labor and Social Security, Ms. Zeta Emilianidou
FROM: Pancyprian Rare Genetic Diseases Association – “Unique Smiles”
SUBJECT: Problems with implementing laws about the minimum guaranteed income and the termination of receiving public assistance
FORWARD: First Lady of the Republic, Parliamentary Labor Committee
June 22, 2015
Honorable Madam Minister,
In the last month (June 2015) the provision of the public assistance was terminated by the Republic of Cyprus, for hundreds of people. Fairly for some, unfairly for others. The termination was done under the basis of provisions and welfare of the law on minimum guaranteed income of 2014-2015.
This letter highlights some parameters and recommendations relating to people with disabilities (recipients of the public assistance), which have not been taken into account at the discussion and voting on the above mentioned law.
The daily needs of a person with a disability (either physical or psychomotor) are plenty, varied, big, serious and long and certainly can not be costed for life with the minimum amount of 5000 euros, which was set as the deposit limit. Indicative and depending on every situation, there are mentioned: the 24-hour care and supervision, health problems, help for the simplest needs, like using the toilet, personal hygiene, eating and self caring issues in general, as well as physiotherapy and especially lessons (speech therapy, swimming, special education and many more), if it comes to children. There needs to be a lot more money to cover these needs.
As an Association we believe that this law has serious deficiencies and omissions and thereby, created social injustice against the most vulnerable group of citizens in our society.
This is why we put forward our own suggestions:
1) All people with a disability or disabilities that have the necessary certificates – documents, should be excluded from such provisions and get receive the public assistance, without any other condition. Certified disability should be enough for the public assistance.
2) The above law, sets the amount of 5000 euros, as the maximum amount to deposit for each public assistance recipient. If there is any excess of this amount, the recipient (according to the above law) is considered to be rich and therefore the public assistance is terminated. Along with the benefits, it is obvious that the rest of the therapies and coverage of their needs are also terminated.
5000, 7000 or 10000 euros under the name of a minor beneficiary state that: a) the parents can not use it until the child’s adulthood, b) it is not significant savings, c) if used for therapies etc., it will last only for a couple of months, d) those parents thought wisely and put that money under the kid’s name for some serious need (e.g., a disease), e) these parents are not cunning and insincere and that is why the put this money to be seen. Therefore, such deposits under the kids’ name, since they can not be used, should be exempted by the provisions of the law. If there is a serious reason (e.g. big deposits, property, disputed disability etc.), the case of each recipient should be examined individually and to the discretion and judgment of the competent officers or the responsible minister.
3) The assessments and reassessments and examinations should be performed by a multidisciplinary committee of scientific experts, which will be established according to the NEEDS – PARTICULARITIES of each case separately and NOT AS IS NOW. For example, a child with psychomotor retardation, is necessary to be evaluated by a committee that is staffed by medical geneticist, pediatric neurologist, specialist pediatrician and child psychiatrist or psychologist, or some other combination of these specialties, in order to determine the disability, the type of the disability, the severity and any other parameter. Also, in the case of a paraplegic adult, obviously, the committee will have a different composition (orthopedist, neurologist, etc.).
Our Association was the receiver of a complaint, where according to the father, a child that was diagnosed with Down syndrome was evaluated by a three member committee, composed of two pediatricians and a psychiatrist, who ruled that the child is not entitled to the public assistance. It is emphasized that the committee made this decision, as reported to us, applying only the method of the clinical observation and without the use of a weighted psychometric diagnostic tool for the intellectual quotient that was appropriate for the child’s age.
4) If the country wants to ensure that, every recipient is actually in need and not “knockoff disabled people”, the successful model of other European countries can be applied, according to which, the necessary services and therapies are provided for free to those who really need it.
5) With the existing law, there is a serious danger, that all recipients (beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries) may hide the money and their properties, just to remain recipients.
In conclusion, we realize that there is a particular need to amend this law in order to alleviate and solve such problems and injustices once and for all.
Children and adults with rare diseases and disabilities in general, are angels with unique smiles. But they can not fly because of the specificity. The aim of every modern, civilized country is to help these angels fly as high as they can, each one of them with their diversity and uniqueness.