Despite all caution, an accident can happen quickly and the consequences, such as a disability, can be dramatic. Severe chronic illnesses can also have a profound impact on independence. For those affected, who often have to cope with a disability for the rest of their lives, it is then important to be able to live as independently as possible and to continue to be mobile, especially at work.
Depending on the impairment, this can also be done with one's own vehicle: "Almost any model can be adapted accordingly," says Patricia Traub, who is responsible for the portal REHADAT-Autoanpassung, a project at the Institute of the German Economy that promotes the professional participation of people with disabilities and summarizes information for the conversion of passenger cars on its website: rehadat-autoanpassung.En
Everyone has the right to a driver's license
Anyone who wants to obtain a driver's license with a physical limitation should first contact the responsible driver's license office. Because the principle applies: "All people have the right to a driver's license, as long as the driving ability is not too severely impaired by the disability," explains expert Traub.
In addition, it is usually the case that those affected must prove by means of an expert opinion that the disability does not unduly restrict the ability to drive. A driving test is also possible.
The decision as to whether a driver's license is issued is made by the driver's license office. It checks the suitability for driving a vehicle. May also require certain modifications for the car.
If you want to find out about your options in advance, you can contact the technical testing centers, conversion companies or driving schools specializing in handicaps. Tip from the expert: A contract with the driving school should only be concluded once the suitability for the driving license has been established.
Medical and technical issues: what types of expert opinions are required?
The expert opinions can be related to both medical and technical aspects. The specialist medical opinion, for example, assesses whether the restrictions are so serious that they prevent active participation in road traffic. In addition, this type of assessment is intended to clarify the course the disability may take and whether medication to be taken, for example, affects the ability to react. The technical report, on the other hand, is about determining whether and which conversions need to be made to the vehicle – for example, from a pedal-operated to a manual transmission.
Those who already have a driver's license can have it rewritten
Those who already had their driver's license before the onset of the disability can have their driver's license rewritten. In this context, expert Traub strongly advises informing the driver's license office of any new impairment that has occurred, even though everyone is initially responsible for assessing their own driving ability. However, the expert points out that if an accident occurs, insurance coverage may be lost or the driver may even be liable to prosecution if the personal impairment was (partly) responsible for the accident.
For the transfer, the driver's license office usually also requires proof of suitability for driving a motor vehicle, i.E. Corresponding expert reports and, if necessary, a driving test. If driving is only permitted under certain conditions, these are entered in the driver's license.
There is financial support for necessary appraisals
In principle, the client must bear the costs of the expert reports and the driver's license transfer himself, however, persons with impairments can apply for financial assistance in certain cases: "This depends, among other things, on the amount of income and whether the participation in professional life can be permanently guaranteed by the own driver's license," says Traub.
However, there is an important detail to consider: "The costs are only actually covered if the expert opinion ultimately confirms fitness to drive," says the expert.
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Car purchase and conversion: discounts and financial assistance
If a vehicle has to be purchased or adapted on the basis of a positive expert opinion, in principle any car can be converted to suit a disability, says Traub – even commercial vehicles such as forklifts or tractors. For this purpose, car manufacturers or car repair shops specializing in conversion can provide advice.
Also for this in the form of the so-called motor vehicle assistance in the occupation subsidies are possible, alone for the vehicle purchase up to 22.000 euros! "This can be used to finance modifications or the purchase of a car," says the expert. Under certain conditions, this can also be a used car.
Some manufacturers also grant discounts when buying a new car. These can amount to more than 20 percent depending on the provider. "However, this is a recommendation of the manufacturers that car dealers do not necessarily have to follow," explains Traub. It may be necessary to visit several dealers to obtain the discount.
After the conversion: inform your car insurance company
Anyone who already has a car and has it equipped to meet the needs of the disabled should then report this to the car insurance company. This has the following background: Although the insurance premium for disabled and non-disabled people is basically the same, but the value of the car increases due to the conversions. Therefore, the contract should be adjusted accordingly, says Traub: "The workshop invoices can serve as a reference point for the increase in value, for example."
And if it is planned that other people, such as relatives, friends or assistants, will also drive the vehicle on a regular basis, insurance coverage for these drivers should also be reviewed.
Tax benefits: Lower motor vehicle tax and higher distance allowance
Apart from the conversion of the car, there are further tax benefits for people with disabilities. "Anyone who is disabled, for example, only has to pay half the motor vehicle tax," explains Traub. This is, however, on the condition that the right to free rides on public transport is thereby waived. This decision can also be revised if public transportation is used so much that the free rides are more beneficial overall. The application for the reduction of the motor vehicle tax must first be submitted to the responsible main customs office and then go to the tax office.
In the case of very severe impairments such as an exceptionally severe walking disability, for example, paralysis, the payment of vehicle tax can even be completely waived. However, the vehicle tax is only waived or reduced if the vehicle is registered in the name of the disabled person and if the vehicle is used exclusively by the disabled person or by third parties who chauffeur the disabled person. The following applies: The latter are not allowed to use the vehicle for their own journeys. This is considered misappropriation and would thus nullify the tax exemption and possibly even result in a fine procedure.
There are also advantages for severely disabled people with a degree of disability of at least 70 or with significantly limited walking ability with regard to travel costs. Unlike fully mobile persons, they may claim the distance allowance of 30 cents per kilometer (from 21. Kilometer 35 cents, for the tax year 2022 this value is to increase to 38 cents) to claim for both the outward and the return journey. If the severely disabled person is driven by a third party, the empty runs between home and work may also be deducted.
Read also on aktiv-online.De, how long-distance commuters can claim the new higher commuting allowance in their tax return.
Contact for motor vehicle assistance at work
Contact points for financial support are, for example, the pension insurance, the employment agency or the integration offices (in Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland they are called "Inklusionsamt") – depending on who is the responsible service provider. Students with disabilities who are dependent on a car may also be responsible for the integration assistance.
REHADADT is an independent offer with a total of 14 portals, which informs about all questions of the professional participation of people with disabilities. It is a project of the Institute of German Economy (IW) in Cologne, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The offer is aimed at both affected persons and all those who are committed to their professional participation.