Slow and Steady

The joys of benefits.

Posted on: April 9, 2009

The media will have you believe that you can just click your fingers and get benefits. They show you pictures of families that have 3 generations who have never worked, editorials of immigrants  who come off planes and go straight to a benefits office, and people that have managed to wangle the system for years.

I had never been on benefits before. I worked two jobs at 16-18 while I was in college ,because I liked my creature comforts. At 18, I managed to get a job in the field I wanted and have worked there since.

Anyway, last year after having yet another set of therapy not work, I went to my doctor completely depressed. He was trying to encourage me to go out more so I wouldn’t focus on my problems. When I told him that I couldn’t as walking too far bought on a flare up, he immediately suggested I apply for Disability Living Allowance ( DLA). He said I was in the criteria and I should apply for it, get the blue badge that comes with it and go out more. Sounds easy doesn’t it?

I went home and went on-line to read the guidelines. I fit the criteria for the mobility component. While online, I also found another benefit I was eligible for, so I rang up for the forms and a few days later, 2 massive 40+ page books came through my letterbox. I started to plough through them. They wanted so much information, it felt very intrusive.

They were also ambiguously worded, for example, they would ask whether you can walk 10 or 20 yards. and there was no space a different response. I toiled over them for ages trying to work out what they wanted with these cryptic questions.

A few days later, I sent them back. The next week I got a rejection letter for the DLA, and months later an appointment to have a medical for the other one.

I went to my doctor to let him know I’d been rejected, and found out he hadn’t been contacted for a report!

So I phoned to ask them to look at my case again, which they agreed to do.

I was rejected again, my doctor still had not been contacted.

My counsellor told me that there is a law centre in every London borough with a welfare rights advisor. I found my one and went for an interview, and she agreed to take on my case.

We started tribunal proceedings and stated that as the DWP hadn’t even requested a report from my doctor they could not prove I wasn’t eligible.

3 weeks later. I got a letter say the were taking another look.

2 weeks later another letter came saying that they were still looking. By now my heart would race every time I saw the ‘dwp brown’ envelope.

3 weeks later I received yet another letter saying sorry it’s taking so long.

5 months after my original application they made their decision. I was deemed disabled and awarded the higher tier mobility component.

The other one actually went all the way to tribunal. The medical appointment was a complete farce. From the time I got there, the doctor had an attitude about my perceived lateness (I was early, my letter proved her wrong which seemed to anger her more), and threatened to get my driving license revoked if I couldn’t move my head more. I left the office in tears and hurting from all the poking and prodding. I was not surprised when I read her scathing report accusing me of faking my pain.

Anyway the tribunal was quick and relatively painless and nearly 11 months after I applied, I was approved for disablement benefit.

This week, I’ve got a letter from work saying I’ll have to apply for incapacity benefit (ESA) and I’m dreading it. I’m seriously thinking about just trying to survive on what I have instead of going through that rigmarole again.

As much as I dislike the people who do take advantage of the system, I must admit I have a slight grudging respect for them, because it isn’t easy at all. It’s easier to get a job than to apply for benefits.

Slightly different view to the news eh?

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4 Responses to "The joys of benefits."

I’ve just got dla for my 26 month old son, the forms are a nightmare, I was expecting to appeal as my other child who is disabled was turned down three times even though he needs help. They benefit people make you feel like your exaggerating x

Oh Fraggle, I’m really sorry to hear your children need to have DLA. It’s horrible, they do really treat everyone as criminals, there surely has to be a better way.

[…] one to take me. Last time I didn’t listen to a knowledgeable friend and went alone, it was a complete disaster! I’m going to cancel and rebook on a day when someone can take me. Tags: […]

[…] today to see if I’m still entitled to a benefit I’ve been receiving from the tribunal I went to last year. I’m left completely and honestly baffled because I don’t know whether I’ve done […]

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