At the beginning of June, I found out that the Department of Work and Pensions had turned down my application to renew my Disability Living Allowance.
My condition and the way it affects me hasn't changed in the least, so by my logic, the amount of DLA I am legally entitled to shouldn't have changed either.
After a bit of a panic and a lot of support from friends, family and other bloggers, I started the process of asking for an explanation of the decision and a reconsideration. I assembled every scrap of additional evidence I could get my hands on and wrote a detailed refutation of the "explanation" they gave me for their decision. If you want to have a browse through my blog archives for the last two months you will get an idea of how much this took out of me.
Today I got their decision. It's actually some four weeks earlier than expected, so yay them, they get to tick an efficiency target. However, in their words, "we have not changed our original decision". I can't walk to the bus stop, I can't cook a proper meal on my own, I can't do or I have difficulty doing a hundred other everyday things and I fall over a lot... but they have decided I have no care or mobility needs.
I am stunned.
I'm not a fraud or a faker. I told them the honest truth and described the difficulties I have and the help which I need, no more, no less. Two years ago, the facts I told them resulted in me being given the middle level of DLA Care component and the higher level of the Mobility component. Today, those same facts result in zero. How can this be right? How does this make any sort of sense at all?
I have the right to appeal to an Independent Tribunal.
What I do not have, is the capacity to appeal to an Independent Tribunal.
I simply cannot do it. Jumping through hoops and visiting their doctors and fighting That Bloody Locum and dealing with legalese and trying to find someone who can represent me and all of this, while coping on a very much more restricted income, and knowing that there's still a good chance of them turning me down yet again... no.
This mess has already done me more harm than good. If I am prepared to lean a bit more heavily on the support offered by my friends and family, then I can get by with just the Incapcity Benefit. But I can't fight battles at the same time. It makes me feel sick to be giving up like this, and it makes me angry that someone in the same position as me but without the friends and family would be so utterly stuck.
Pip (and Littlun, of course) has looked after me today. Many cups of tea have been applied and both shoulders utterly soaked by a sobbing Mary. I'm sure it's not the day he had in mind, poor git. Steve has also been lovely, in a long-distance kind of way, listening to the tears and saying all the right things. I've also had a brief but reassuring phone chat with my mum. The consensus is that it's not right, and it's not fair, but it's also not the end of the world and we've got through much worse than this before.
On the positive side - and there is one - my condition may improve a bit now, because a certain amount of stress has been tossed overboard. I can get on and enjoy the summer rather than back-and-forthing with the DWP. I can sit outside in the sunshine without thinking "ooh, I must save my energy for filling out reams of paperwork". I won't have to worry, every time I have a good day, that someone might notice I'm moving a bit easier or not leaning on the stick as much, and report my one-off good day as me being "better". And I don't have to listen to the DLA unit's hold music, a bonus which is almost worth the money on its own.
In other news, the Lowestoft Airshow is almost upon us - this coming Thursday and Friday. God only knows what the weather will do, and as such, plans are near impossible to make. I'm going to start in much the same way as last year - rest up beforehand, buy plenty of milk/juice/etc before the tourists descend, and generally arrange things so that there is nothing I *need* to do. Those of you I know in real life, are any of you planning on being round this way?