Slow and Steady

Posts Tagged ‘Benefits

In my quest to move on to living life instead of just  existing from doctor appointment to doctor appointment, I decided to try and work again. I learnt while doing  my old job that 8 hours a week was too much, I wasn’t able to swim or anything because of the hours spent preparing and teaching the lessons.

My tutor from my CELTA course kept telling me to apply to work at the college where I taught. I told her that it would be too much right now, but I wanted to temp so I still have a hand in teaching without the commitment of exams etc. and it had to be less than 4 hours so I can continue with my exercises and well being routine. She told me about a class who needs a tutor for 3 hours a week until Christmas, maybe in the new year too. It is just teaching, no paperwork, no tutorials, no tests. I accepted that. I went through Reed as their enhanced CRB check only takes a week.

Anyway I phoned Access to Work and it’s all changed. Before, you spoke to a friendly person who took down your details, then you were assigned to someone who would sort out the payment bit. It was a very positive government department, and I really liked dealing with them because you got a sense that they were happy to be helping people get back into the workforce.

Now, I was asked loads of questions in a very disbelieving tone. It was horrible. The person I spoke to said she had gone on the tfl website and saw that there is a bus that can take me there directly. I replied that I can’t get to the bus stop because it’s too far.

Then she asked me why I couldn’t drive there. I replied that driving, then walking to the classroom, walking round doing the lesson and then driving home is too much and will leave me in a flare up.

So she said “why doesn’t one of your family drive you there?” I replied I’m the only driver in my family. Then she said that she’ll make a decision and get back to me soon.

I came off the phone worried as hell, how am I going to manage if Access to Work don’t help me? I can’t afford to take cabs, there would be no point in me working as I’d be working to pay my cab fare!

I decided to test it and drove to the college. I was in agony by the end of the lesson. Luckily my sister has a friend who goes to the college and she drove home. My sister had to help me into the house. My legs were shaking really badly.  Apparently my sister’s friend started crying because she had never seen me in a flare before. I couldn’t manage the stairs so had to go loo in a bloody Flora container.

I’m sure I’ll be able to laugh about that in a few years.

The next day I nearly fell down the stairs. My mum’s OH had to carried me down. The next time we spoke he told me that he couldn’t sleep properly that night because he could get the vision of my feet nearly coming off the step while I was clinging on to bannister and my stick.

So no, I can’t work with getting transport help. I got an email to say they will help me for the rest of the year. I’m so relieved, but can’t help wondering, what will next year bring?

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In this post, I spoke about making an announcement about something important. I can now reveal what it is. I had found a way to move back into my flat! To simplify it, I was going to move back in and get assisstance with my mortgage, and could afford to pay the bills.

I had also figured out that even if I started work, I could manage to pay my bills but needed to make sure one of my benefits was renewed. I was waiting to see if it was renewed before I gave my tenant notice.I was going to be using my mortgage holidays, so needed to wait until the end of the month.

I got a letter from work. From the sound of it, they want to get me doing light duties quickly. I decided to hang on until I was back in work so I wouldn’t have to use my mortgage holidays. I want to keep that for the last ditch option.

Then the budget happened.

From October this year, they are going to slash the amount of help they’ll give you by half.  There is no way I can move back in now. Pissed doesn’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling. I’m sure they’ll be a silver lining, but I sure as hell can’t see one now.

I want to go home. I’ve looked at every single way to do so, and all of them involve selling my house.

After the research I’ve done, I realised that I made a mistake moving out. If I was in there in arrears, fucking up the credit report I worked hard to repair, I would be entitled to help.

Because I decided to do something that any honest person would do, move out so I don’t get into debt, I’ve thrown myself into a deep rut.

Oh, and I’ve stopped getting paid this benefit. I phoned them to find out what is happening and they’ve said that I should get a decision in the next fortnight. So I’m now going to have to live the next two weeks on credit.

I can’t tell you how much it’s going to hurt me that I’m going to end up messing up my credit and not living at home.

Ah well. Coulda woulda shoulda.

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I had to go for an interview 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 myself a favour or a disservice. I was honest. I said I have god and bad days, I told her about the things I’m doing to help with my situation, and what I do when I’m having a bad day. I bought letters from my psychiatrist and neurologist.

She seemed impressed with the way I’m handling myself, but I don’t know if that means she thinks I won’t be entitled to the help any more. That money is really important because it’s the only money I have that doesn’t go towards bills. It’s my ‘spending money’. Without I can’t buy food or petrol.

I’m hoping that I’ll still get it, and what would be brilliant is if it gets increased to the next tier. That’ll give me a bit more petrol in the tank.

I’ve started filling in the tax return form, I have to fill in as I’m renting my flat. What a bloody faff. I was on the phone for ages to ask a simple question, and then came off, filled out that bit and realised that I needed to ask a few more. I have until June I guess so I can’t complain. It’s just annoying though.

I rang the council benefits advisor to see if I was entitled to anything else. I really really REALLY want to move back to my home. He said no, and then explained the procedure to me. I would have to move back into my home, and wait 13 weeks before I can start a claim. Then I have to wait to be assessed then I may get help.

I was gasped in disbelieve, and he laughed and said that it used to be 52 weeks. The government wanted people to buy income protection insurance, but now in this climate, it has been significantly reduced. I can only shake my head.

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As well as my laptop coming yesterday, I also had to attend a medical for ESA benefit. I went with a friend, and we were seen half an hour later than  my appointment. The letter said to allow 2 hours.

The doctor was one of those fake nice ones. He was completely over the top, and then he would suddenly switch to be quite cold and unbelieving. For example he asked me if I could drive, I said yes. He asked if my car was automatic or manual, and when I said I don’t have a car he barked ‘well then you’re not driving’. He was constantly trying to catch me out, and would ask about things I had already said like ‘oh so where in your right shoulder is hurting?’ and I would have to correct him and say my left.

At 1 point I told him I was thoroughly fed up with these types of interviews, and that I would much prefer to be in Cape Town sampling my favourite red wine to which he chuckled. He was South African.

It was good to have someone with me. There were times I couldn’t remember some things like all the therapy I tried, and my friend reminded me. She could also back me up when I said I don’t go raving and that my friends drive me around.

Apparently now he send off the report, and then the decision maker takes his report, plus my doctors report into consideration. I don’t understand, because they are paying me now. I swear this system makes absolutely no sense to me.

I didn’t mention that I was going to try and go back to work, as there are too many variables and it may not happen.

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I have been offered a  place on the CELTA course, I had an interview for. I am so pleased about that. It starts in February, and I have a very thick booklet of pre courses to complete and list of recommended reading.

As the medical centre wasn’t too far from one of the sites that form part of the college, I went and enrolled yesterday. As  the course isn’t until February, I don’t need to get my ID until about January.

I was up early this morning because the DHL gave me a 9-5 timeframe to pick up the laptop. They came just after 9 and then about 9.30 the door knocked and it someone from the jobcentre!

Apparently she sent a letter, but it didn’t turn up. It soon became clear that the interview was nothing about checking my benefits, but some work I did for Adecco temping agency before my accident. They seem think I was working there January of this year. As soon as that was clarified she left!

I told her about my ESA worries and she told me to write a letter, she really wasn’t interested in it, it was quite funny.

Looking at my diary, I’ve just realised that I have a medical for ESA tomorrow. I completely forgot about it. Last time I didn’t listen to a knowledgeable friend and went alone to a benefits related medical, it was a complete disaster!

I’ve managed to find someone to take me, but to be honest, I wanted to cancel because I don’t want to miss my laptop arriving… Got my priorities in order I have!! LOL

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As I said yesterday, I’m going to do light duties to see how much I can manage. I live quite a way from my job, and public transport is unsuitable for me, and the drive is too much to handle at the moment. While surfing randomly, doing some research, I found out about Access to Work

About Access to Work

Access to Work might pay towards the equipment you need at work, adapting premises to meet your needs, or a support worker. It can also pay towards the cost of getting to work if you cannot use public transport.

If you need a communicator at job interviews, Access to Work may be available, too.

I phoned them today, and I couldn’t believe it. A government department that doesn’t have an automated system! It was just engaged. I started ringing them at 9am, and eventually got through at 9.50. They called me straight back and we went through a telephone application, and they will then send it to me to sign and send back. It was the usual questions ‘what do you do, what is your disability’ etc.

She explained they will then contact my employer and decide how much of the cost will be split. I laughed inwardly to myself because I really don’t see my employer paying anything.

When she asked my return to work date, I said ‘Well if you can help me…’ and she interrupted me and said ‘We’ll definitely be helping you’.

That has to be the most direct answer I’ve since dealing with the Benefits agencies. I guess they really do want to get you off your bum.

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