Sources of Rights

Both PWPs and their caregivers may have statutory (government created) rights to be free from discrimination on the basis of disability and to participate in certain disability-based benefits programs.

  • These rights to be free from discrimination primarily stem from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and also state or local antidiscrimination or human rights laws that sometimes provide even stronger rights to protect against discrimination based on disability.
  • Further, PWPs may qualify for benefits under the federal Social Security programs, either Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) if they held jobs through which they had contributed to the system through the payment of taxes, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they did not.
  • There are numerous other laws that provide people with disabilities and other Americans rights, or regulate programs that are offered by third parties including employers, health care being an obvious arena where both hold true – Medicare and Medicaid for those eligible, private health care insurance when offered at work, and medical leave for eligible employees under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to the employee’s own serious health condition or the need to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

In addition to statutory rights and protections created by government action, an individual may have rights that stem from contract.

  • Examples of contractual rights include a long term disability income replacement contract (or contracts), either provided by the PWP’s employer or purchased privately before the onset of disability; life insurance policy (or credit card agreement) provisions that waive future payments after disability; and long term care policies that will pay benefits for care, usually at home or at a long term care policy. And of course, a PWP’s other established contractual rights, such as pension rights, should remain in force irrespective of disability.

Once you identify the source(s) of your rights, the important questions become:

  • What are all of your rights from those sources?
  • When do they become rights?
  • How do you exercise such rights?
  • How do they fit together?
  • How can you maximize the bundle of rights that can be brought to bear to help ease the difficulty of managing a diagnosis of Parkinson’s?

 Content for this section provided by Mark Rubin, J.D.


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