Wednesday 10 November 2010

Benefit Irony

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, (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.


  1. Couldn't agree more about the stress, and even humiliations, involved in applying for benefits that you are entitled to. It tallies well with my own experience, which was several years prior to the introduction of ESA.

  2. Wow! You've completely put into words how I feel about the whole system. I was ready to give up on my DLA claim, it was rejected this year even though my health gets worse year on year. Happily I have the support of my family who found a solicitor for me. She has now taken on my DLA claim as I was unable to fight any more. I was put through a tribunal last year for my IB which I won but the stress of all of this is making my health worse. I also wonder if I'm being followed every time I leave the house, on a good day should I hide this just in case anyone should see me smile! Thank you for your bravery in this post, you speak for so many of us.

  3. Malcolm/Cyran - I can't tell you how happy it makes me when I get posts like yours.
    I've wanted to write for as long as I can remember and the fact that now, I am writing about the very thing I always wanted to, is extraordinary.
    When I hear guys like you say you have the same experiences, it is so comforting to know that it's not just me. I love the thought that people reading it might be getting comfort too, even if I never know it.

  4. Exactly!

    We also just gave up trying.... being assessed by people who were not suitably informed or qualified, the persistent ulterior that somehow we were trying to defraud the system, and the anger and bewilderment at the bizarre denial of that which you know to be the reality. I begin to wonder if any sufferers actually get what they should be entitled to.....

    (Hope expressing your experience may have kicked started your adrenals a little ... and fingers crossed for the bed space.)

    Syzygy Sue x

  5. Syzygy Sue - (Love that name by the way, I think I'll use it from now on!!)

    Adrenaline indeed appears kick started, but it could also be the opiate slam dunk.

  6. I'm afraid owing to most people who are ill etc will be unable to fill out the relevant forms correctly for ESA/DLA you do need a good lawyer to do this for you but can be very costly running into many thousands of pounds depending how much Justice is needed in any particular case

    I have just my care worker who is good with 20 years of experience in looking after the likes of myself but we all need to be on top of things and if anyone knows of a good lawyer then please don't keep it to yourself as peoples lives will depend on getting help and justice if people give up for whatever reason and die it will come back to haunt all of us here we must at all times remain united in our approach

  7. Solicitors are OK if you can show the DWP has made an error in law, to get you DLA they are no different then a benefits adviser, it's the form you need to fill in correctly.

    Here is an example of a lady coming in, she said I failed to get DLA again.

    I get the form out and say OK you tell me your answers.

    Can you walk 50mtrs ... yes with pain killers.. I ask again can you walk 50mtrs yes with pain killers.. I said well if pain killers allow you to walk keep taking pain killers.

    The forms are made in such a way as to trip up people.

    I have sat through some hilarious form filling in my time, but lots of people think if they take pain killers it will allow them to do things and they will be seen as being disabled.

    For example the DWP will now check your Tesco club card, they can check your banking details, they can also check your passport to see if you have been out of the country on holiday.

    A judge not to long ago found a women guilty of benefit fraud because she went on holiday, another was found guilty because she was driving a car, no she did not have hand controls and she said her legs were so bad she could not walk.

    Like it or not we are being watched like hawks, and your Tesco club card or asda or what ever can now be checked without you even knowing about it.

    Labours on TV to day saying it backed the welfare reforms, sadly it looks like we are now the Jews/disabled of the UK we caused the banking crises and we are causing the down turn.

    But if your trying to claim DLA ask the social services for a good solid benefits adviser, I got DLA first time high rate of care and mobility because my social worker filled in my forms.

  8. You make a good point Robert. I myself have always been watched like a hawk by the DWP and have been reported for going out by neighbor's as working many times over the years I've been told I'm not allowed to go anywhere other then to a supermarket only and to go elsewhere will prejudice my claim for incapacity benefit
    If it wasn't for my mental health worker i would be housebound as i would be to afraid to go out as i said in my previous post my lawyer tells me to get justice for myself through the European courts will cost a fortune
    funny thing tho is that under DLA i am allowed to go out it's just incapacity benefit they take a dim view of when you go out as your supposed to be according to the senior staff at DWP INCAPACITATED

  9. sue you should claim DLA and the best way for you to get it is for your care worker to fill in the forms you yourself are not qualified to do so because if you do you will fail i have never known anyone be successful in claiming when they have filled out the forms themselves

  10. I think you need to go higher up a care worker can be anyone these days, if you do not have a social worker, ask friends who they had to fill out the forms, if they say oh I did it and I'll do yours say no thanks, then phone up one of the many different groups.

    To become a CAB adviser you have to do courses one of which is filling in the DLA forms, but again not all benefits advisor's are the same maybe Dial would be better.

    If you do have a social worker and all NHS hospital have one ask them, they will know the good from the bad, or the indifferent.

    But i would say never ever try and fill out a DLA form your self unless you have vast experience of them.

    Do not forget if you have failed the tribunal then sadly your either not that badly disabled, or more then likely you have not filled in the forms right.

  11. Wow, some of those stories are depressing.
    The NACC (National Association of Crohn's and Colitis) have specially trained lawyers to help with the forms. When I claimed before however, the awarded me mobility allowance but not care allowance. This made no sense to me as I'f thought I would get help with the care side of things, but not mobility!
    I called the lawyer who had helped me straight away, but her advice was it's so rare for someone with crohn's to get any DLA at all, I should just keep quiet.
    I never felt comfortable with it so I cancelled it when my mobility improved.
    I don't have a care worker or anything at all.

  12. Sue the first thing we learn when filling in forms for people is simple, it's not how serious the disability is, you can have the most severe disability or illness going and yet cope well, then you can have the simple Bunion on your toe and get high rate DLA, because if you can show that this problems impacts on your life you will get the benefits.

    I actually saw a lady come in limping badly she said she uses a wheelchair, she is scared of operations and refused point blank to have the Bunion removed. She had full rate of care and Mobility.

    My wife who was born with spina bifida was told she was coping well with her disability and she was refused.

    It's not how serious your problems are but how you can put it over to the DWP how serious it affects your life.

    This is the problem with DLA it can be given for the silliest claim if that person has a good adviser, while somebody who has horrendous disabilities will need to go to tribunals.

  13. That is terrible sue as i know only to well how serious your condition is and if i were the DWP i would give high for care and medium for mobility anyone being fed through a vain is at very serious risk of infection and even if not fed through a vein Crohn's can destroy your life and leave you very depressed that i do know

    i get medium for care and lower for mobility which overall is probably about right in my case but with my weight so low and with any additional stress placed upon me i could die at anytime through my very low blood pleasure
    so i do need a lot of care

  14. I sincerely hope that as people get moved over and mistakes happen in that those concerned that someone will challenge in the courts the government as i myself am not even sure under European law that the new proposals are even legal
    I mean my incapacity benefit has a top up associated with it because it is dated from 1983 and other legal stuff that was around at that time what happens to these people who paid there taxes before hand

    as i say as these new proposals unfold i would expect with the number of sick and disabled involved across that a lawyer will come out of the woodwork and make a legal challenge in the courts to see if the changes are even lawful

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