The concept and definition of disability has evolved quite radically over the last century. Today, hidden disabilities are recognised as biomedical, including them as part of the body rather than something separate in our mind. Hidden disability is an umbrella term that covers disabilities that aren’t visible, however can have a huge and long-term effect on a person’s day-to-day life — as much as a physical disability would. This can range broadly, including but not limited to chronic pain, chronic fatigue, mental illness, psychiatric disabilities, brain injury, epilepsy, and learning difficulties.
The majority of impairments in the UK are not visible. Around one in four British adults are diagnosed with one hidden disability in any year. Many of us are unaware of how common these disabilities are in society. Here, we’ll discuss which celebrities have hidden disabilities and are eligible for the Motability scheme. But first, what is Motability?
What is Motability?
Schemes have been introduced in the UK to provide support for those with hidden disabilities. For example, in 2019, the Department for Transport extended their blue badge eligibility criteria to include a wider scope of people affected by hidden disabilities who face distress, low confidence, and risk harm when they’re out. Doing so has made it significantly easier for people with hidden disabilities to socialise and go out independently with free and accessible parking spaces, as well as being excused from London’s congestion charge.
Similarly, Motability was introduced back in 1977, providing people with disabilities with independence and freedom. There are a range of Motability cars available to choose from, from a wide range of international marques that participate in the scheme ranging different prices. Those with hidden disabilities can apply for the Motability scheme if they receive:
- Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance
- Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of the Personal Independence Payment
- War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
In 2018, the scheme helped 625,000 disabled people get on the roads — the figure is likely a lot higher today. So, which celebrities have hidden disabilities and how would they be eligible?
Jessie J — Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome is a genetic heart condition that causes palpitations, where the heart beats irregularly due to an extra electrical pathway in the heart’s process. The symptoms of this disease are dizziness and feeling light-headed, palpitations, loss of consciousness, and shortness of breath.
Jessie J would be eligible for Motability allowance as this disease is present from birth and has long-term effects on daily living and getting around — someone suffering from this condition could apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as the eligibility states:
- have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months
- expect these difficulties to continue for at least nine months
As this condition is congenital, those with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome could access disability cars as a learner driver with a provisional license. The same rules would have applied as in as a learner, the learner driver must be in the presence of a driver over the age of 21 and held a licence for a minimum of three years — this nominated person must also be on the leases’ insurance in case they need to take control of the car. In terms of the person claiming Motability, their parent or carer could have also applied for Motability after their third birthday, or possibly before if the criteria is met, to help parents or guardians care for a child with a disability.
People with disabilities don’t get automatic eligibility — for all conditions, PIP would take into consideration how severe your condition affects your ability to function rather than just your diagnosis. Check your eligibility here.
Morgan Freeman — Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is an incurable condition that causes increased and intense sensitivity to pain, exhaustion, cognition issues, and insomnia. Morgan developed this syndrome as a result of a car crash in 2008 after multiple injuries and nerve damage — this is a severe mobility condition that causes moving to be extremely painful, having a huge impact on daily functioning.
Morgan would be eligible to apply for PIP due to issues with mobility. If someone with fibromyalgia found it too painful to drive, up to three named drivers can be insured on the car, including family, friends, or carers. You don’t have to be a driver to access the scheme but need a car to help you keep your freedom with someone trusted to drive you around. It wouldn’t matter that if Morgan was applying over the age of 65, anyone who is claiming any of the allowances listed above can apply.
In the event that walking becomes too painful and the condition deteriorates, if a walking stick, wheelchair, or other equipment is needed, Motability provides cars with free adaptations for disabled people and their unique and specific needs, regardless if they can drive or not.
Robin Williams — Parkinson’s Disease & ADHD
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder that causes issues such as involuntary shaking, slow movement, stiff and inflexible muscles, as well as psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and memory problems. Robin would have been eligible for PIP — if he already had a vehicle, it could’ve been exchanged to partially pay for the Motability scheme, even if the car was privately owned.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural disorder that affects attention and impulsiveness. However, assessment would be essential to determine how much a person’s life is affected by ADHD, as it can range from mild to extreme.
So, there we have a guide of Motability eligibility and which celebrities would be suitable. It’s important to remember that just because someone doesn’t look like they have a disability, doesn’t mean that they don’t!