Friday, July 20, 2007

Rejected, again.

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?

16 comments:

Carie said...

Oh no! You're not the only one who's stunned - anyone who has met you in person can tell you aren't better yet. If you do decide you want to do anything about appealing it let me know if I can help with the legalese or anything. In the meantime enjoy the airshow (assuming no rain!)

Mary said...

You see this is incredible - every friend who's found out so far has immediately gone "let me know if I can help" and it just bowls me over.

I can't do the appeal though. There's a limit to how many forms I can fill and how many hoops I can jump, and there's also a limit to how many hours I can spend trying to convince faceless bureaucrats of how inadequate I am. It's bloody demoralising. I would prefer to think happy thoughts about what wonderful friends I have :)

Hopefully the airshow will be okay. And if it does rain, and I'm out, I won't be far from home at all.

Anonymous said...

OH NO! THIS IS THE WORST NEWS SINCE 9/11.

Jo said...

Aww *hugs* that really sucks. I could run on a lot about how it sucks, but that's not going to help you any so I'll just leave you some sympathy and hope the summer improves for you (and that East Anglia gets some sunshine for you to sit in!)

seahorse said...

I really am sorry to read this. It makes me angry for you. But you are right to leave it alone, at least for a while.

Mary said...

Thanks Jo, Seahorse. We've had some sunshine today actually, apart from the two-minute window where my mum popped out to get some milk when, naturally, it rained.

I will be leaving it alone, but a bit of me wonders whether, now that I've made the decision to leave it alone, if this would be a good time to write the letter of complaint about the various screw-ups - the ones on a level of incorrect information being sent, information being promised and never materialising, that kind of thing. After all, I don't have to worry about it affecting my claim now.

thanks for the support :)

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should leave it alone, if they owe you money, you should get it. Can't your more able friends and relatives help you with the form filling etc????

Mary said...

It's a good point, Anonymous 7:23.

There's only a couple of people who are close enough to me to really *know* about how my condition affects me. None of them have the time and energy to dedicate to helping me through an appeal. Let's face it, they give up enough of their spare time and energy helping me out with the day to day things.

There are several people who, although they're not as close to me as mum, Pip or Steve, are still good friends who I trust, BUT.

Consider for a moment your own friends - not the "practically family" ones, but the regular friend friends. How many of them would you feel comfortable sitting down with and describing to them, in detail, how you go about everyday personal things like using the toilet or having a bath or getting dressed or cooking a meal?

Now imagine that you have difficulty with some or all of those things, and the growing look of horrified pity that would appear on your friend's face as you described the difficulties to them. Imagine how it would change the way they saw you, and how it would affect the friendship.

I prefer for my friends to only really see me when I'm rested and ready to be sociable. The rest of the time... well, they know I "have problems" in a general, abstract kind of way, but I don't feel comfortable discussing specific details beyond the vague outlines such as I put up here on the blog.

Maggie said...

Dearest Mary,

Oh cr*p. :-(

Try and find an advocate - sometimes that can be easier than you think. The place that helped me way back in 1994/5/6/7 (head for dates is f*cked at the mo, sorry) didn't help with filling in, or asking for "looking at again" - they would be swamped if they did that. But once you were looking at going to Tribunal they would help. Not much use to you, but I would recommend Merseyside Welfare Rights (assuming they are still around)

The thing is, that they do just about ALL the work involved. All you have to do is sign papers to allow the DWP to release your papers to them so they can make your case. And it's best if you actually attend the tribunal too. Mine was not nice at all, I cried all over the place. And it went on for nearly 2 hours. But I got a good result, including enough back pay to buy a new bed (much needed as our mattress had given up with springs poking out!).

You have a little time before you have to make a final decision as to whether to go to tribunal or not. Rest up and have a break for a time, and think about it when you're feeling fresher.

Big hugs from Liverpool... Feel free to email me if you want to rant!

Anonymous said...

hi _ i have severe m.e..feel for you re: the dla decision.
i mentioned before in previous comment- would these folk be worth a try,( my understanding was that they handle the appeal for you.- especially as you already got all the evidence supporting your claim already )see comment by anonymous thurs 7th june 2007, re: mechat site - tribunal representation and appeal centre)...sorry i don't know if i'm making sense here. wishing you the very best.

The Goldfish said...

I hope you're feeling a bit better today. I missed this on Friday in my sleepiness.

Your decision is your decision, but the tribunal might not be as awful as you might think. I did it, and whilst it involved some anxiety and a nerve-wracking day, I was sixteen years old and it was all right. It might be worth talking to others who have been to tribunal.

Your other option, other than the one you're taking, is to start again with a brand new application.

It's kind of difficult because, whilst I have great sympathy for how you feel about this, I naturally have a very strong sense of the injustice of the situation, especially given all you've been through so far. I also feel it's such a simple, if profound mistake they've made. I can't imagine a tribunal meeting you (you just sit in a room with three people and chat about the situation) and then turning you down.

However, I think a break from this subject is due in any case; if you do change your mind, you should have another month to go at.

Take care.

Mary said...

Thanks :)

Goldfish, you are exactly right about a break from the subject being due. They've had the last two months of my life where I've been constantly worrying about it and thinking about it and wondering if I could have/should have done things differently and better and AAARGH. I've tried to focus on other things - the knitting, seeing friends, even a bloody cookbook - but seriously, this crap has been giving me nightmares and it's time for it to just STOP.

cusp said...

Oh Christ ! I've only just come over here and read the news. Bastards ! I feel really genuinely angry and sad for you. O.K. ...looking on the 'bright' side you can enjoy the summer (if there's any sun!) but what good will that be when you need more money to buy in the help you need etc etc ?
I discover more and more people with M.E. and we're all in the same boat. I was turned down for DLA and I've got people all round me encouraging me to have another go, but, as you say, they have no idea of the physical and emotional resources you need in order to fight and go through it all again.

When you look at he new guidelines for the DWP on ME its no wonder it's so difficult to gethem to see we need more help. You'd have to be almost dead before they'd cough up and even then they'd probably advise that if you'd only done your GET you could have managed !

Sorry that was just me ranting because the news made me so cross

HOWEVER I do agree with you that for the moment at least you should just have a rest from itall and go back to knitting or whatever chills you out. Build up your strength again and then see how you feel.

Presumably there's a DIAL service in the North of he County as there is here and they can be extremely helpful in applications and especially tribunals if you can face it at a later date.

Hugs ;-)

cusp said...

OK so I'm probably telling my Grandma to suck eggs and you'll say anaff off I'm knitting and watching the airshow. I don't want to think about the DWP unless it's a picture of them roasting over a spit .... BUT....here's DIAL Lowestoft website address

http://www.dialnet.f2s.com/dial.htm

I know the one in Stow has helped many people with tribunals and applications and helps people get what they are entitled to every year.

Good luck.....I'll get me coat !

Mary said...

thanks cusp. Part of it is that I don't "buy in" any of my help in an actual paying for a PA/carer way unless you count taxi fares (which I don't).

I buy Pip the occasional tank full of petrol by way of thanks/recompense for giving me lifts places. I buy my parents the occasional takeaway to thank them for the times they feed me or bail me out in other ways. If someone goes shopping with me, then I pay the car park charges and maybe get them a little gift while we're out. I tip the lovely people from the chinese takeaway who, since I got ill, always offer to bring my food up the stairs for me when I order.

The thing is, (apart from the taxi drivers), these people will all do these things anyway and not feel hard done by for it. I'll just feel a bit crap for being all taketaketake. But really, I'm incredibly lucky that although the DLA makes my life significantly easier and more independent, I'm not actually in desperate need of it in a life-or-death sense.

PetetheCaitiff said...

I've got nothing to add to the DLA debate that hasn't already been said, so all I'll add is:

I hope the morons who'll get drunk and lairy after the airshow, decide not to use your road to go home or conduct loud drunken arguments on.