Something important I felt I should point out, is just how difficult claiming sickness benefits already is.
According to the Compass report I posted a few days ago,
http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2010/11/compass-report-into-esa-assessments. (a fascinating but worrying read, do take a look if you haven't already)
the OECD concluded that our work capability assessments were the toughest in the world before ESA was even introduced.
I don't bother claiming for most things as it's just too, too stressful. I only claim Incapacity Benefit and though I'm entitled to DLA and possibly other help, I stopped claiming it, as I just felt too much under suspicion and the actual process of applying was just too traumatic.
The irony is, that when you most need the help, you are least capable of getting it. You just don't have the strength to fight the inevitable frustrations of getting the forms, (40 pages+) filling them in, reminding yourself with every answer just how sick you are, waiting for a decision, forms getting lost somewhere in the bureaucratic swamp, starting all over again, endless waits on the phone being given number after number until I get hold of the right person.....
Imagine you have appendicitis for a moment. The pain is excrutiating, it muddles your brain with cotton wool, you certainly wouldn't be capable of doing the equivalent of a full day's work and being endlessly patient with people at the other end of the phone. You worry about being "under suspicion" all the time - "What if someone's following me? Taking pictures? What if they catch me on a rare good day and accuse me of fraud?" Too, too scary.
Most of us don't dare to stop our benefits if we do feel OK for a while, because the system is so complicated and time consuming. You live in terror that once you step out of he system, you might never be allowed to step back in.
As I wait for the call to tell me there's a bed in hospital for me, I am terrified about how we will get by. Last time, it cost us £9,000 in lost work days for Dave, petrol to and from hospital, B&Bs for Dave and the boys to stay in when they come up at weekends to visit, prescription charges, parking fees etc etc.
I should be only really be concentrating on getting well, but the system just does not allow me to.