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When You're Not 'Sick Enough' For a Disability Parking Permit

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A few months ago I tried to apply for a disability parking permit, since I have solar urticaria, a rare allergy to UV rays. I worry about exactly when and which grocery store I can go to because of parking spots. Between April and October, I cannot go out on errands by myself because I cannot park close enough to the door to feel well enough to drive home afterwards.

I went to the secretary of state to request the permit, and ended up having a reaction from the fluorescent lights. I got a form that didn’t make any sense, so I emailed them to try and sort things out instead.

I got a response weeks later. It was addressed to “Mr.” instead of “Ms.” — from an organization that has my driver’s license and photo on file. Not a great start. The letter went on to say that my sun allergy wasn’t an ambulatory condition so I couldn’t get a disability parking permit. If my physician wanted to appeal the rules he could, but I was powerless.

And that’s the thing about a sun allergy. It’s not an ambulatory condition. I’m a long distance runner and avid hiker. On a heavily overcast day in November, I can pound out a 10k without a second thought. On a sunny day in June, I can be in pain before I’ve gone 10 feet.

I want to change this restriction, but there’s only so much I can do by myself.

What legal challenges do you face with your chronic illnesses? 

Originally published: April 4, 2018
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