Turned down for DLA again.
40-odd pages of my answers to their questions, plus "supporting evidence" in the form of a specialist's report, two pages of prescriptions, five statements from different people who know me in various capacities, contact details for the people I get practical help from, a statement from my last Incapacity review from one of the DWP's own 'healthcare professionals' agreeing that (to put it in layman's terms) I'm pretty disabled and not likely to improve in the forseeable future... on top of which, my GP is supporting my claim. How much more could they possibly want or need?
Co-worker#1 is convinced that it's an administrative error of some kind - that they've lost some of the paperwork, or that there was a big stack of applications in a tray marked 'for rejection' and mine went in there by mistake.
Suggestions from other people have included that the Decision Maker looked at my massive bundle'o'papers and said something along the lines of Stuff This For A Game Of Soldiers, I Want To Be Home By 5pm; or that the daunting-ness of an Appeal is being used to discourage claimants.
I have no idea, and neither does Steve. We are going to Appeal. If nothing else, the outline of reasons given is a complete contradiction of the evidence which I and everybody else signed off as being true. For example, the letter states I am "not at risk of falling". Almost every piece of evidence that was submitted explains in plain language that faints, falls and stumbles are a several-times-a-day feature of my condition and that I regularly injure myself in the process.
Then again, the comments relating to my condition weren't the only items of fiction in that letter. The very last sentence was a beautiful example. In serious, bold font, it told me "The enclosed leaflet contains important information you should read now." Was there an enclosed leaflet? No. Were the nice helpline people surprised when I phoned and said "I have no leaflet"? No. They're sending a copy of the leaflet out to me.
Steve and I have spent a while on the Benefits and Work website and have downloaded a wonderful 16-page pdf about DLA Appeals, full of simple step-by-step information about what happens at each stage. The Appeals process still looks daunting, but at least now it's a known quantity of daunt.
We phoned the CAB (the CAB here is only physically open three part-days a week) who have referred us to a drop-in 'Benefits and Debt Advice Clinic' at a local health centre on Monday.
In other, much much much more positive news - Steve has passed his final CCNP exam with flying colours (a perfect 100% in all but one section where he only got 87% which is still significantly above the pass-mark) so hopefully the general situation will improve soon.