My stress has wound down several more notches, thanks to fantastic support from Steve, and from my family and friends here, and also (I realise this sounds cheesy) because of the blogger support.
A commenter on an earlier post linked me to Benefits And Work, and a quick Paypal of £16.50 later, there was an absolute wealth of useful information at my fingertips.
As well as all this information and support, I believe I've established the difference between a Reconsideration and an Appeal. I'm not doing an Appeal. An Appeal is a scary thing full of solicitors and panels and hearings and tribunals, yeeech. I'm doing a Reconsideration, which as I understand it, just means that a different Decision Maker will look at my case in 28 days time from when I phoned them. I can use those 28 days to submit any additional, supplemental or new evidence that I would like a Decision Maker to look at. Or not. But either way, it doesn't have to involve comprehension of legalese on my part.
I've had a good think about what evidence I would like to include that they don't already have. Here's my list:
- A step-by-step refutation of their reasons for the non-award decision ("you said [this], in fact the case is [this], as backed up by [evidence].") although I can't make a start on this until I get their written list of reasons, which could take another week from now.
- The report from the specialist ME/CFS clinic at the hospital. It's over a year old, but it includes such handy phrases as "Mary has classic chronic fatigue syndrome" as well as information about my pain and activity levels. I already have the patient copy of this document.
- A proper written explanation of the issues with the locum doing the GP's report, including a reminder that I flagged this issue at the time and well before they made the decision to not award DLA, or in other words, that I'm not making up issues because I'm all upset by their decision.
- A written statement from Steve regarding my care and mobility needs from his perspective as someone who sometimes looks after me. Mum already did one (albeit a short one), as part of my original renewal forms. I'd ask Pip too, but he's got a lot on his plate at the moment.
- The forms and GP's Report (by my actual proper GP) for my successful Incapacity Benefit renewal back in February. I have requested to be sent these, although I am warned it may take "a few days" as they have "probably gone to the storage facility already".
I also rang my GP's surgery and asked if I could have a copy of my notes for the last three years. Unfortunately the receptionist said I had to ask my GP, or in real terms, I had to ask the infamous Dr M. It was agreed that Dr M would call me back, which she did, when I was in the middle of my nap and in no position to deal with anything let alone start insisting. She told me that my notes would only be relevant if I went to an Appeal and my solicitor made a formal request for them. I do not have it in me to fight her. So I do not have access to my medical records. However, I'm toying with appropriate wording to explain in my Reconsideration covering letter that I believe there may be additional supporting evidence for my claim in my medical notes, but have been unable to gain access to them. Not sure.
Hopefully, this will be enough.
In better news...
I've finished the cable pocket on the knitted knitting needle case. Only one real hiccup, that was when I started looking at the wrong place on the page and knitted the final few rows that should have been on the Fair Isle pocket onto the end of the cable pocket. But it was easy enough to undo. Oh, and if anyone knows of an insanely simple explanation of Fair Isle online, please do recommend it in the comments.
My houseplant is still thriving. At this rate, it will see me through moving to Steve's (still no date set so don't get excited), which will be the third house-move it's done with me.
For dinner I had salad and a lasagne. Asda own-brand straightforward lasagne (in other words, not Extra Value or Low Fat or any other faff), microwaveable, £1, and it tastes bloody lovely. I would go so far as to say it's the nicest microwave lasagne I've had, and trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I shall have to buy more.
And now I'm off to bed, and I have ALL the bed to myself. Swings and roundabouts...