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Low oxygen levels and DLA…

Posted May 10 2010 12:00am

After an absence, I’ve gone back to look at my search engine slush pile – for quite a while there’s been no point, as it’s been dominated by enquiries for DLA rates. However, it seems to be returning to normal, and I came across this: “am I entitled to DLA with low oxygen (O2) levels?”.

As always, the answer to the “am I entitled” question is a flat NO.

That’s because illness does not entitle you to DLA. You might qualify for DLA – which isn’t the same thing at all – by virtue of the degree of disability caused by your illness. Basically, though, simply being ill entitles you to bugger all.

It’s a common misconception – I’m ill, therefore I’m entitled to benefit. You are not – you have to demonstrate that your illness causes sufficient disability to qualify you for benefit. Which is a whole different ballgame.

But back to the question. What are you calling low? For a healthy adult an O2 saturation range of  96.1% – 97.7% can be considered normal; for a healthy 64 year old the normal range is 92.7% – 98.3% (source: NHS Home Oxygen Service pulse oximetry guide).

Who told you your O2 levels are low? Was this assessed at a hospital over a period of hours? Because a spot check, while useful, isn’t perfect, and, anyway, there are other factors that need to be taken into account (like spirometry results). Likewise, buying a pulse oximeter will yield little that’s medically useful unless you have the knowledge to use it properly. For example, mine often displays levels around 91% on a spot check. However, if I leave it on for a while it will average around 93%.

Do you have a diagnosed respiratory illness? If so, have your meds been adjusted, if possible, to take account of your low O2 levels?

Do you smoke? If so, stop. No argument – just do it.

If it’s neither of the last two, have your low O2 levels been investigated and the cause established and treated?

These things are all more important than the question of whether or not you can claim DLA.

If, however, you do have a respiratory illness that is substantially disabling, then by all means apply for DLA. Read this page first, and you can download an application form from there, too.

Please note, though, that I am no longer physically able to provide personal advice for the foreseeable future.

nor does buying a pulse oximeter unless you have the knowledge to make use of it

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