Deserving Families Face Many Difficulties Due To Confusion Over Various Diets
The disability identity card of Ramesh *, an elderly man, indicates that his daughter, who suffers from a mental illness, has an 80% disability.
The card was issued in 2012, and for two years after that, Ramesh said he visited the Tahsildar office at least five times to try to get his daughter’s disability pension. âThey even came to visit my building and spoke to my neighbors. But after that, nothing at all, âhe said.
Ramesh is one of many caregivers of people with mental illness who have not been able to access the retirement plans provided for people with disabilities. Confusion over the different plans available and their criteria, as well as access difficulties, lead many families to move from pillar to post to secure retirement, according to experts.
The state’s “disability pension scheme” does not cover the mentally ill, said Ravindranath Singh, deputy director of the State Commission for the Disabled. This, said a senior official in the Department of Social Protection, is a political decision, as there are practical difficulties involved.
The other pension, the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension, clearly classifies mental illness as a disability and supports people with severe disabilities – 80% or more for people from families living below the poverty line. But that too is almost always inaccessible to people with mental illnesses, said Kamala Easwaran, deputy director of The Banyan.
“Officials continue to turn away patients, saying mental illness does not qualify for pension,” she said. Both pensions amount to Rs. 1,000 per month.
Of the 140 people to whom The Banyan has provided disability identity cards with a disability of 80 percent or more since 2012, most of whom are families below the poverty line, only three people have been able to access the system. Indira Gandhi pension scheme, and only after petitions to the collector’s office, said Preetha Krishnadas, deputy director of The Banyan.
For many, the pension will make a big difference, said P. Karpagavalli, coordinator, clinical services, Schizophrenia Research Foundation.
âMany of these patients are very sick and cannot work. Their parents are elderly, and in addition to caring for and caring for their mentally ill children, they are forced to go from office to office to try to access the program. And it’s ad hoc – a few tahsildar offices seem to provide it, but others refer them elsewhere, âshe said.
Revathi, who has a son diagnosed with schizophrenia, said she visited the tahsildar’s office at least three times to claim the amount, but to no avail.
Some of those who passed are getting the mental retardation provision pension, Ms Krishnadas said.
In the four years since Ramesh’s daughter received the disability card, she jumped out of their house on the third floor and injured herself twice. She is currently hospitalized. Ramesh, who is taking anxiety medication, and his wife, who suffers from depression, have left their home to visit another girl for more help. Ramesh, who does odd jobs, tries to find a job as a security guard. âI went back and checked if I had received the pension in the mail, but nothing came,â he said.
* Names changed )
The biggest issue in the disability allowance issue, campaigners say, is whether mental illness is included in its jurisdiction.
âWhy, when the 1995 Disability Act calls mental illness a disability, does the state pension plan not provide for it? Asks Vandana Gopikumar, co-founder of The Banyan.
âThere are multiple barriers in our environment for the mentally ill, ranging from stigma to lack of access to poverty and not being included in the scope of the pension, further marginalizes a large group. There could be a possible relationship between not having financial support and withdrawing from treatment or even falling into homelessness and mortality, âshe said. Tamil Nadu seems to be the perfect state to set it up, with its obvious concern for the well-being of people with disabilities.
State policy needs to be changed to include people with mental illnesses, said S. Namburajan, secretary general of state, Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Kinds of People with Disabilities and Carers.
A 2008 study by The Banyan of 50 women, who received a monthly allowance of Rs. 200 from the organization, found the allowance to be extremely beneficial – the money is used to meet household needs and medicine. , it enabled them to help with family expenses and meet basic needs and they even felt more involved in decision-making, the study said.