By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
The Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) said multiple facilities for the disabled have been planned in response to the increasing demand especially triggered by the implementation of the disabled allowance and other welfare.
IAS said it is prepared for the increased pressure on already stretched rehabilitation resources in the city as various local social services and disabled associations warn that the string of upcoming welfare measures will encourage many disabled people who used to hide at home to come out and restore a normal relationship with the outside world.
According to the bureau’s written reply to the Macau Daily Times’ inquiry, through the introduction of the disability assessment registration cards and disabled allowance, the Government hopes to “understand Macau’s disabled population and their basic information more accurately”, which will serve as an important reference for policy-making and the planning of rehabilitation services in the future.
“We hope that more disabled people can step out from home, participate in the registration and also apply for suitable rehab services, [in order to] raise living standards and integrate into society,” the bureau said.
“We’ve already made relevant planning in which a number of day care and residential service facilities for people with different types of disability will be built in newly constructed public housing complexes, so as to satisfy the increasing demand.”
In addition the bureau said those who “never received any rehab, elderly or other social services”, after the disability assessment, can apply for rehab services according to their wishes.
Previously, Caritas Macau and the Parents’ Association of People with Intellectual Disability did admit that some parents might prefer to see their children categorised with a severe or profound degree of disability even though in fact they are not, in order to obtain the higher annual allowance of MOP 12,000 instead of MOP 6,000.
The IAS stressed that “qualified doctors or professionals” will carry out the assessment work, and the related regulation will also stipulate the criteria, tools and methods for assessment which “ensure science and objectivity”.
Applicant can appeal to the bureau within 30 days and the bureau will reply whether it accepts the application within 15 working days.
If the request is accepted, the bureau will send the case to the retrial panel which will at last make suggestions concerning whether the assessment result needs to be adjusted.
IAS said it will notify the applicant about the result within 60 days after the retrial request is accepted, but the deadline can be extended for a maximum 15 days.
If the applicant does not agree with the retrial result, he or she can then appeal to the Administrative Court.
IAS also told the MDTimes that in the future it will launch publicity campaigns for the disability assessment registration cards, and at the same time “encourage public and private entities to offer more convenience and concession for card holders”.
The bureau also said the MOP 12,000 and MOP 6,000 disabled allowance amounts are set after taking into consideration the age pension amount and the opinions from the Rehabilitation Affairs Committee.
However, last week local lawmakers criticised the allowances, saying they were far from enough especially for those who have a severe or profound degree of disability, since the living costs continue to rise.