Assistance for refugees with disabilities

Among the Ukrainian refugees who crossed the border of the Republic of Poland after February 24 there were many people with disabilities. They are a special group that requires extensive information support due to their health condition. 

Ukrainian flag with a symbol of disability

PESEL — a key issue

As we know, the PESEL number enables refugees to apply for various social benefits or other forms of assistance (e.g., residence at a reception center). For refugees with disabilities, it is an essential document in the process of confirming the status of a person with a disability and receiving medical assistance

Confirmation of disability status 

A refugee cannot have a Ukrainian disability certificate. It is necessary to produce a Polish version of the document. This process consists of the following steps:

  1. Application submitted with the Municipal/County (Powiat) Disability Evaluation Board at the place of residence to confirm the status of a person with a disability.
  2. The application should include:
    • medical documentation, including a medical certificate of health, issued no earlier than 30 days before the date of application;
    • documents that may affect the determination of the degree of disability, e.g. results of specialized consultations, psychological and pedagogical opinions;
    • Printed forms SZ-1, SZ-2, SZ-3, SZ-4, SZ-5 (available here after a search).
  3. All elements of the application must be made in Polish, the Ukrainian-language version is needed only for reference. The traslation of any medical documentation needs to be performed by a sworn translator. 
  4. In the absence of medical documentation, it will be necessary to initiate the procedure from scratch to determine the existence of any disability and its cause, as well as its degree.
  5. If the person with a disability is a minor, the application is submitted on his/her behalf by his/her parent/legal guardian (as defined by Polish law).
  6. The waiting time for processing the application is about 3-4 weeks. 
  7. The decision of the City/County Disability Assessment Panel can be appealed to the Provincial Disability Assessment Panel – the deadline is 14 days from receipt of the decision. 

➡️ Additional tips for people with disabilities from Ukraine residing abroad

Assistance for refugees with disabilities – a list of organizations

Mudita Association

  • It offers accommodation for people with disabilities and their immediate families. Reception points are located in Krakow (one can stay for a maximum of 30 days) and Warsaw (maximum of 7 days). In addition, there is the possibility of free meals twice a day, transportation to hospital examinations, information assistance, Polish language instruction and children’s activities. 
  • Hotline (+48 539 866 471) for refugees with disabilities – here you will receive answers to questions on medical and administrative matters.
  • Mutual support groups – meetings for people with disabilities. These are not therapeutic groups (although there is a psychologist present). The main purpose is integration. 

Alivia Foundation

  • Contact via Viber (+48 789 414 406). Oncology patients can receive various types of support – from help in obtaining cancer treatment to connected formal matters.

SYNAPSIS Foundation

  • The Foundation supports people who are on the autism spectrum and their families. Refugee families with persons on the spectrum can receive psychological assistance, information support for individuals and organizations/institutions hosting refugee families with persons on the spectrum, ad hoc psychiatric consultations, development of individualized therapy programs to be implemented in places of residence, support in dealing with formal matters, preparation of information in Ukrainian and Russian on legal/systemic solutions and places where assistance can be obtained. Contact is made by email: pomocdlaukrainy@fundacja-synapsis.

Opatrzność Foundation

As part of its activities, the foundation provides all deaf people who came to Poland from Ukraine after February 24, 2022 with:

  • online assistance of Ukrainian sign language interpreter (skype: DeafUkriana);
  • assistance in filling out documents and dealing with official and personal matters. For these kind of issues you can come in person to the Foundation’s office in Warsaw, 4 Bialostocka Street, or contact Lesia Lupookova +48 725 317 924;
  • Courses to learn Polish Sign Language (PJM) and the basics of Polish;
  • Psychological counseling and support, as well as career counseling and job placement assistance.
  • To take advantage of the support offered it is necessary to fill out the form, which can be found online: form

AVALON Foundation

  • As part of the activities of the Center for Assistance to Refugees with Disabilities, the organization provides the following forms of assistance: free rehabilitation, creation of a sub-account – collection of costs for the needs of the person, a toll-free hotline (790 688 222) offering comprehensive support with funding: running costs, rehabilitation, transportation, necessary medical equipment.

Polish Deaf Association

  • The website (link above) provides key information for Ukrainian refugees in sign language (Polish and Russian sign language).
  • They help the deaf on an ongoing basis, and contact is possible according to communication needs;
  • e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected], skype: DeafUkraine – for refugees (Ukrainian sign language / Polish sign language / Polish language). 
  • What’s App, Viber, Telegram and SMS (phone numbers: +48 783 729 144, +48 724 028 395) – for refugees and donors (Polish Sign Language and International Sign Language)
  • Messenger  – for donors in Polish and in Polish Sign Language (make a video and send it). 

SMA Foundation 

  • The Foundation operates a contact centre for patients with spinal muscular atrophy. You can turn here for information related to coming to Poland, including documentation to receive treatment for spinal muscular atrophy in Poland, crossing the border, arranging emergency housing, transportation assistance, medical and rehabilitation equipment.
  • Contact – email: [email protected]; formularz zgłoszeniowy, phone no. +48 22 120 1750

Iron Help 

Iron Help Polska Misja Medyczna
  • The “Jedna Chwila” Association, together with the Polish Medical Mission, has developed a specialized program aimed at 350 disabled and amputees affected by the war in Ukraine. It will be possible to benefit from a 10-day sports and rehabilitation camp; a training program to help with daily functioning with a prosthesis; sports classes (led by paralympians, among others); psychological care; and vocational counseling.
  • To apply for the “Iron Help” program, please contact the “Jedna Chwila” Association via email: [email protected].

Medicine coverage 

All refugees from Ukraine with a PESEL number are entitled to a medicinal coverage program – in other words, a reimbursement of medicine costs. A list of such medical supplies is provided by the Minister of Health – this includes drugs for multiple sclerosis or cancer treatment. More information in this regard can be obtained from the NFZ’s Ukrainian-language hotline (800190590) or from the nearest pharmacy.

Education of refugees with disabilities 

In the case of children with disabilities, it is necessary to ask the director of the pre-school, school or psychological-educational counseling center for assistance in preparing an application for a certificate on the need for special education. Having a certificate does not affect which pre-school or school a child can attend. Children with disabilities are educated in regular, integrated or special pre-schools and schools. Parents decide on the choice of educational instutition. School directors are responsible for organization of learning and psychological and pedagogical support adapted to the child’s abilities and needs. In the case of special schools and institutions, the condition for admission of a child is the possession of a certificate for special education or a certificate for revalidation and education classes. In conducting examinations and interviews with children who do not communicate in Polish, it is advisable to use a person who speaks the language of the country of origin of the children and pupils. The assessment team issues a decision, e.g. on the need for special education, within no more than 30 days from the date of submission of the application by the parent of the child/student.

Employment rules 

  • Disability cannot be a reason for employment discrimination!
  • Working hours cannot be more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week – and in the case of a moderate or severe degree of disability, cannot exceed 7 hours per day and 35 hours per week. This limitation does not reduce the monthly salary. 
  • No possibility of night or overtime work.
  • The right to an additional break at work for exercise or rest (15 minutes, included in working time).
  • A person with a significant or moderate degree of disability is entitled to an additional leave of absence of 10 working days per calendar year.