How Disabled Parking Permits Can Help the Chronically Ill

Dr. Handicap - parking sign
Dr. Handicap - parking sign

More than 133 million Americans suffer from a chronic illness, totaling more than 40% of the entire population. Chronic conditions cover a wide variety of illnesses – from asthma to arthritis to cardiac conditions. Individuals who experience symptoms from their conditions often need to find ways to make their day-to-day activities easier.

One of the biggest ways they can conserve their energy and simplify their routines is by obtaining a handicap parking permit. This allows the individual to park closer to businesses, retail locations, parks, and other places. By not having to walk as far, they’re able to keep their energy up for the task at hand (instead of getting burned out just walking across the parking lot).

People with disabled parking permits have many advantages when finding a place to park. With a valid handicap placard, individuals are permitted to park in any parking places with the wheelchair symbol; these are designated spots that are usually near the entrance of the establishment. There are also some places that designate blue curbs as parking for people with disabilities. Locations that have green curbs usually have a time limit attached to them. However, those with a handicap placard can park there for any length of time and are free to disregard the time constraints. In cities that have parking meters, handicap placard owners are permitted to park any time, at no cost (which means they can also save money on parking expenses!). Disabled parking placard holders can also park in any areas that are designated for permit-holding residents or merchants. The placard simply waives the permit requirement.

Dr Handicap - disabled parking

There are other benefits besides making it easier to find a closer, more convenient parking place. Many people with chronic illnesses find it challenging just to leave their homes. It can be intimidating if they’re heading someplace where they can’t control their surroundings as much. There are always worries about being able to accomplish these tasks, so running errands can turn into a complex issue. With a handicap placard, some of the complications are taken care of. A disabled parking permit can mean that the person doesn’t have to worry about not being able to run an errand without being too tired or having discomfort. By saving time and energy parking in convenient spots, a person can focus their energy on the activity.

Having a disabled parking permit also means that a person can feel more confident about leaving their home and venturing out. A person with chronic illness can tend to isolate or stay home more than usual. But a handicap parking permit means they might feel more motivated to get out into the world and do social activities since they won’t have to walk long distances. The placard can afford them more freedom to accomplish the things they want to do.

There are many chronic conditions that qualify as a disability for a parking permit. If an individual experiences a loss of mobility because of their illness, they can apply for a handicap placard. Some states specify that if a person can’t walk more than 50 feet without stopping to rest, then they qualify for a placard (for other states it can be as much as 200 feet). People who need canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs or other assistive devices will also qualify because they have difficulty walking long distances. Chronic illnesses like lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis can all impact a person’s ability to be mobile. If a person’s vision is affected by their chronic illness, they can also benefit from a handicap placard. Some DMVs state that a person needs to have a visual acuity of 20/200 or less with correcting lenses in order to qualify.

Dr. Handicap - disabled sign

There are also cardiac conditions that can be chronic (including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease). The American Heart Association separates cardiac conditions into four classes. Classes I or II are for people that experience mild symptoms but can still participate easily in daily activities. Classes III or IV are for people with more significant and severe symptoms. They usually experience fatigue and discomfort more easily and have problems participating in any kind of physical activity. Individuals in Class III or IV can definitely obtain a handicap parking permit since their mobility is so limited.

There are also many chronic conditions that are deemed “invisible illnesses.” These conditions are called this because there might not be obvious outward signs that the person is disabled. While it’s easy for people to see why someone carrying an oxygen tank might need a handicap parking placard, there are many conditions that can still greatly impact a person’s ability to move around, like fibromyalgia, lupus, Lyme disease, neurological disorders, and others. If a physician deems a handicap placard to be beneficial to the person, then their condition qualifies them to apply for a disabled parking permit just like people with more visible, external symptoms.

If someone’s chronic illness has made it impossible for them to drive, they can still benefit greatly from having a handicap placard. That’s because individuals are permitted to take their placard with them into any vehicle they’re traveling in as a passenger. As long as the placard is kept in the disabled person’s possession, they can move it to whatever vehicle they’re riding in. Having a placard helps the person still park close even if they’re not driving.

The chronically ill face many challenges throughout their day-to-day life. But having a handicap parking permit can help them feel more in control and more capable of being out in the world. While parking closer to an establishment can’t erase their symptoms, it can alleviate them, making it easier for them to accomplish their goals. Having a disabled parking permit can mean less fatigue and discomfort, which makes applying for one well worth the process.

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