On the occasion of disability awareness week, bianet spoke to Bülent Küçükarslan from a platform for the disabled, engelliler.biz.
Küçükarslan has blamed a change in regulations in 2006 for further disadvantages facing the disabled.
Regulations leave disabled without benefits
The change means that many disabilities can be classified as disabling a person by less than 40 percent, the critical percentage above which a person is entitled to benefits.
“Thus, according to the new regulations, hundreds of thousands of disabled people are suddently not disabled anymore and have suffered. For instance, before 2006, a person with one eye would be classified as 41 percent disabled. Now a person with one eye is classified as 25 percent disabled. In Turkey, there are around 900,000 people with one eye.”
No communication with relevant ministries
Küçükarslan further said that they have appealed to the Ministry of Employment and Social Security and the Ministry of Finance to solve the problems that disabled people face, both those who are working and cannot benefit from tax reductions and early retirement, and those who cannot work and need care.
He further criticised the government of not informing disabled people of ongoing projects.
Quota not filled
Particularly in the public sector, the required quota of disabled people is not filled, a state of affairs which the disabled criticise.
“The State Planning Department (DPT) announced 25 jobs for disabled people in March, and there were no more than 150 disabled people employed in a whole year, despite the fact that Turkey needs to fill a quota of 40,000 disabled people.”
State is cutting back on benefits
Another problem that the disabled face concerns disability benefits. According to Law 2022, those with a disability of 40 percent or more receive benefits, as do caretakers of those in need of help.
According to Küçükarslan, those with a disability of 40 to 70 percent receive 530 Lira (around 250 Euros) every three months, while those with a disability of over 70 percent receive 870 Lira (around 410 Euros) a month. Caretakers receive 470 Lira (around 220 Euros) a month.
“The state, which has already limited the number of disabled people who can make use of their rights, is now telling the disabled through district governors and the social services that they cannot receive two types of benefits at the same time and need to choose one. That means that even more victimisation is taking place. People who are dependent on disability benefits and whose caretakers receive a wage are being forced to accept only one.”
Küçükarslan says that applications to relevant institutions have been left unanswered, and that people are being left to suffer. (EZÖ/AG)