Obtaining a Disability Ruling: How to Get It?

In this article, you will learn what a disability ruling is, what documents are needed to obtain it, and what the procedure for receiving the ruling looks like.

What is a Polish disability ruling?

A disability ruling is a formal document confirming that you are a person with a disability [1]. According to Polish law, disability means a permanent or temporary inability to fulfill social roles, resulting from impaired physical functioning [2]. As indicated by the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Disabled People, this refers to the inability or difficulty in daily activities, especially in work.

Importantly, the issue of disability takes into account physical, psychological, and social aspects of human functioning. The presence of only one of these elements, for example, impaired physical functioning (commonly equated with illness), does not necessarily mean disability. If the illness does not cause significant limitations in functioning in society or at work, it will not be a basis for issuing a disability ruling.

For individuals above the age of 16, a disability ruling is issued in one of three degrees: mild, moderate, or severe [3]:

  • People with a mild degree of disability are considered those whose ability to work is significantly reduced. The comparison here is made to people with similar qualifications who are fully physically and mentally capable. The mild degree also applies to people whose limitations in functioning can be compensated by appropriate orthopedic equipment or other means;
  • The moderate degree of disability may include people who are partially unable to work due to impaired function. This applies to those who can work but only in sheltered work conditions. This group also includes people who require temporary or partial assistance in fulfilling social roles;
  • A significant degree of disability refers to people who are unable to work. This is a group that requires constant or long-term assistance from others. People with a significant degree of disability are unable to perform duties independently.

Children up to the age of 16 receive a disability assessment without specifying the degree of disability [4].

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Benefits and Allowances for People with Disabilities

The disability degree certificate entitles you to apply for various benefits, allowances, and privileges. These include:

  • employment in a vocational activity center or protected work,
  • employee privileges, such as the right to additional paid leave, longer breaks, or shorter working hours,
  • care benefits, housing allowance, parking pass,
  • financial assistance for:
    • rehabilitation equipment,
    • orthopedic items and assistive devices,
    • elimination of architectural barriers (e.g., ramp installation, removal of thresholds in a building),
    • elimination of communication barriers (e.g., computer purchase),
    • elimination of technical barriers (e.g., purchase of a device that allows an electric wheelchair to enter a vehicle),
    • agricultural or business activities.
  • services:
    • social and caregiving services (such as assistance with shopping and handling administrative tasks, cleaning, cooking),
    • therapeutic services,
    • rehabilitative services, offered by social welfare institutions or non-governmental organizations,
    • postal services.
  • discounts:
    • tax benefits (for example, deductions from income for rehabilitation expenses),
    • discounts on public transport,
    • in cultural and sports facilities [5].

Disability Certification for People from Ukraine

The Act of March 12, 2022, on assistance to Ukrainian citizens indicates that any citizen of that country who entered Poland legally after February 24 and declares an intention to stay in Poland is entitled to medical care to the same extent as Polish citizens. However, this care does not cover treatment and spa rehabilitation [6]

Experts from the Association for Legal Intervention indicate that Poland and Ukraine do not have an agreement that would allow for mutual recognition of documents confirming disability [7]. Due to the lack of clear regulations, certifications for persons from Ukraine are issued on the same terms as for Polish citizens. 

The body issuing the certifications is the Municipal Team for Disability Assessment. In the case of smaller towns, the appropriate body is the County Team for Disability Assessment. The certificate is issued upon request of the interested person, and in the case of children, upon request of the parent. Before you proceed with submitting the application, you must have a PESEL number. You can learn what it is and how to obtain it here.

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You can obtain the application form to fill out from the appropriate Disability Assessment Team for your place of residence. It’s also worth checking if the document is available for download on the website of the relevant authority.

Submitting the application is free of charge. Along with the application, you will need the following documents:

  • a medical certificate on your health condition. You can obtain the appropriate form from the relevant Disability Assessment Team or find it on their website. The certificate should be filled out by the doctor treating you and will be valid for 30 days;
  • documents that confirm your health condition:
    • medical documentation – for example, hospital treatment cards, records of outpatient treatment, results of additional diagnostic tests, specialist consultations,
    • other documents that may affect the determination of the degree of disability – if you have any (e.g., psychological-pedagogical opinion);
  • statements about your permanent place of residence [8].

Important! If your medical documentation is in a language other than Polish, it should be translated by a sworn translator. 

After submitting the application along with all the documents, you will be invited to a committee meeting. The committee will review your case, examine you, and talk to you. Attendance at the committee meeting is mandatory, and you will receive an invitation within a month of submitting the documents.

You will receive the decision regarding the judgment by mail. It should be delivered within 14 days from the session. If you disagree with the decision of the district or city team for assessing disabilities, you have the right to appeal to the provincial team for disabilities. It is submitted through the district team [9]. You have 14 calendar days from receiving the decision to do so.

Assistance for citizens with Ukrainian disability documents.

As a person with a disability who arrived from Ukraine after February 24, 2022, you can receive certain assistance from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (PFRON).

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In 2022, the fund launched the program “Assistance for Citizens of Ukraine with Disabilities” [10]. Any person from Ukraine who possesses a document confirming a I or II degree of disability issued within the Ukrainian disability assessment system can benefit from it. In case of the absence of such a document, a statement confirming its possession is sufficient. The program details in the Ukrainian language are available here (you will find them below the Polish version).

Under the PFRON program, assistance is provided to cover the co-payment for the purchase or repair of medical devices such as prosthetics, orthopedic appliances, wheelchairs, crutches, adult diapers, and walking frames.

Medical devices are subsidized to varying degrees by the National Health Fund (it can even be up to 100 percent). The amount of the subsidy is determined by the regulation of the Minister of Health. The subsidy is granted up to the price limit for each type of device, as specified by the Ministry of Health.

Read also: How does the National Health Fund (NFZ) work? Public healthcare for refugees from Ukraine

This means that if you receive a prescription, for example, for the purchase of an orthosis with a 90 percent subsidy from the National Health Fund (NFZ), you will need to cover the remaining 10 percent of the cost. However, you can apply for a refund of the amount you personally paid.

To receive the benefit, you will need a proof of purchase, which you can submit along with your application to the district or city Family Support Center in the locality where you reside. These Family Support Centers manage the funds from the PFRON program and are responsible for determining the eligibility for the benefit.

It’s also worth mentioning the assistance that will come into effect from January 1, 2024. The Support Benefit Act was signed by the president in July. Currently, the government is preparing regulations that will specify the process for applying for this new form of support.

According to the law, the provision of benefits will not be dependent on the degree of disability but rather on the level of support needed. Individuals with disabilities who have reached the age of 18 will be eligible for assistance.

The assistance will be available to any person with a disability who receives an assessment determining the level of support needs at a minimum of 70 points on a 100-point scale. Depending on the number of points, a person with a disability may receive a benefit ranging from 40 percent to 220 percent of the social pension. Currently, the social pension amounts to 1,588.44 Polish złoty and is indexed annually.

The assessment of the level of support needs will be conducted by specialized teams in the place of residence of the person with a disability.

Organizacje dla osób z niepełnosprawnościami z Ukrainy

In Poland, there are many organizations that provide assistance to people with disabilities who have come from Ukraine. Below is a brief list of initiatives you can turn to for support:

Stowarzyszenie MUDITA [MUDITA Association] – operates a helpline for individuals with disabilities from Ukraine and their families in Poland. Here, you can obtain informational assistance related to handling: official matters, including obtaining a PESEL number, passport, as well as disability certificates and other formalities necessary for receiving benefits. Association staff can also aid you in finding rehabilitation, medical assistance, healthcare, psychological support, and scheduling medical appointments. For more information, you can contact them at [email protected] and at the phone number +48 539 866 471.

Read also: Stowarzyszenie Mudita o wsparciu informacyjnym i asystenturze dla uchodźców z niepełnosprawnościami

Życie Pełne Możliwości Foundation – operates in Krakow. It assists in obtaining subsidies for rehabilitation equipment, such as wheelchairs, rehabilitation beds, standing frames, and lifts, for individuals with disabilities. The foundation can also help in finding a doctor who can provide a certificate confirming the need for rehabilitative equipment. For more information, contact them at +48 571 242 427.

SMA Foundation – specializes in supporting individuals with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The SMA Foundation helps people from Ukraine organize medical and rehabilitation equipment as well as treatment in Poland. The association has launched a helpline at +48 22 120 1750. You can also contact them via email at [email protected].

Also, make use of the Mapuj Pomoc database. Simply select a specific region in the country (province or city) and a category of support. Through the map, you can find organizations providing legal advice or assistance to individuals with disabilities, operating across Poland and Ukraine.