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How to Get a Handicapped Parking Permit for MS






















A handicapped parking permit allows you to park closer to your destination and may confer other privileges as well.

Handicapped parking permits are not just for people who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices. Talk to your doctor about applying for one.
If your multiple sclerosis (MS) has started to make it hard for you to walk from your car to stores or to your workplace, it may be time to consider getting a handicapped parking permit.

While every state has its own rules for them, these permits generally allow you to park in handicapped-designated spots in parking lots. In many cities, they also give you preferred access to street parking — often meaning that you don't have to pay for it, or that you can park for a longer duration in time-limited parking zones.

Before starting the process of getting a permit — or even if you don't think you need one right now — you may be interested to know what other people with MS have gone through while getting, and using, theirs.

Why Get a Permit?
Handicapped parking permits — which usually come as placards to be hung from a car's rearview mirror while the car is parked, but can also be specialized license plates — aren't just for people who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices.

You may also qualify for a permit if your doctor certifies that you have a limiting neurological disease, or that you can't walk a certain distance without stopping to rest. In most states, this distance is set by law at 200 feet.

But your ability to walk isn't the only factor you may want to consider when deciding to get a permit. Bradley Mann, a 47-year-old resident of Monroe, New Jersey, and an Everyday Health blogger who's had MS for 10 years and was an accountant before going on disability, got a permit initially because of difficulty getting in and out of his car.

"At that point I could still walk the distance to get to the store," says Mann. When he mentioned his difficulties to his doctor, the doctor explained how to get in and out of a car by turning sideways.

"I said, 'You know, it's difficult to do that because the cars are parked so close to you.' And that's when he suggested handicapped parking. Not just for the distance — but also for the wider spots."

Mann also notes that the permit lets him avoid walking through parking lots at night, a time when vision problems can make such a trek dangerous.

Is It Hard to Get a Permit?
The first step in getting a parking permit is usually to talk to your doctor. But since your state department of motor vehicles or transportation actually grants the permit, things may get complicated after that initial step.

Not always, though. Vito Seripiero, 57, an aircraft engineering manager in Seattle who's had MS for 16 years, found that getting his placard "was no hassle at all." He simply brought a letter from his doctor to the motor vehicles department and soon received a placard in the mail.

"I've got a permanent placard, so they come to me automatically" whenever his old one expires, he says, which is every five years under current law. "I don't have to do anything."

But Mann hasn't had such an easy experience. "In the last year, New Jersey actually made the whole process much more difficult," he says. Whereas when he first applied for a permit 10 years ago "there was a form the size of a postcard," the state now requires a more elaborate set of procedures.

"Now, they expire every three years, and it's a whole new approval process," he says. "There's a much more detailed form that has to go to the doctor." Since he takes a timed walking test every time he visits the doctor, Mann hasn’t had to undergo any special tests under the new rules — but other people might need to take an extra trip to the doctor.

And since his placard and his car registration now need renewal at different times, Mann has made several extra trips to his state's motor vehicle department. "Basically it's a separate process for each one. So it was a huge hassle," says Mann.

What's It Like to Use a Permit?
For Seripiero, finding a place to park is usually a breeze. He has a medically assigned space at work, where there are also eight additional handicapped spots.

When he's out shopping, "Nine out of 10 times I get a handicapped parking space, no problem." Sometimes, though, he'll have to drive around the parking lot a couple of times, waiting for a spot to open up. And when it comes to street parking in Seattle, "With the handicapped placard I don't have to pay — I can just park on the street."

Mann has had a more mixed experience finding parking, noticing that newer stores seem to have more handicapped spots available. He's also been stymied by people without handicapped permits who wait in their cars while occupying a handicapped spot. "That takes up a lot of spots," he says. "That's more of a problem, I find, than a lack of spots."

Possibly because he sometimes uses a shopping cart for support while keeping his folding cane stashed in his backpack, Mann has also gotten comments questioning his use of a handicapped parking space. "On occasion, people will say, 'That's for the handicapped; what are you doing?'" he says. "Sometimes to avoid a confrontation, I'll just point to my license plate."

Taking the Plunge
For people experiencing mobility problems, Seripiero recommends seeing your doctor about a permit right away. "Work with your doctor. Your doctor can get it for you," he says. "Trying to do it without your doctor involved is difficult."

Mann advises beginning the process early in the course of your disease. "Don't wait until you feel that you absolutely have to have it, because it could take some time," he says. "Just keep your options open, and this way you have it when you need it."

Seripiero advises those in doubt to simply go for it. "Finding a close space really made a difference for me," he says. "It works. It really helps."

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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