Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Witty Title Goes Here

So, I've been being very organised about this whole DLA business. I phoned the Benefit Enquiry Line to get a form sent to me that would be date-stamped so that my claim, if successful, would be backdated. I scoured the members area of Benefits and Work and saved a copy of the guidelines to filling in the adult DLA form on physical health grounds. I went through that document and made a Notepad file with my notes based on what would be most relevant for me. Next, I downloaded a copy of the new form (it's different to the forms I filled in before. There's only one of it and it's a lot more reminiscent of the IB50). Then I started slowly working on one question at a time, typing my answers into another notepad file.

A number of people who know me in real life were lovely enough to say they would write statements for me, detailing their experiences of my care and mobility needs, if I told them what was needed. So I whipped up yet another notepad file, this one being a rough guide to the sort of information the DLA people are looking for.

Today, the actual forms arrived. There are 63 questions. Unfortunately that's not a useful number. "Date of birth" is one question. "National Insurance number" is one question. However, on the other side of the coin, "Would you have difficulty preparing and cooking a main meal for yourself? Is there anything you want to tell us about the difficulty you would have planning, preparing and cooking a main meal?" is all one question.

Having got to a point in my notepad file-o-answers where I was feeling really useless and like I wanted to throw my laptop across the room (question 32, if anyone's keeping track), I decided to start working on the form. After all, my notepad files are a bit pointless if the actual form remains blank.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I have made my first mistake. Question 6. "Address where you live", I got my postcode wrong.

I am wondering whether to make a note of this in the Additional Information.


Maggie said...

I wouldn't worry too much about making mistakes - my form is always covered in them when I fill it in myself (John had to do the one before last as I wasn't well enough to write so long at the time). Just cross it out and rewrite... For some reason I have a feeling that Snopaque isn't allowed, but I could be wrong there!

I really feel for you having to go through this. Didn't realise the form had changed, it isn't very long since you had one! If it's like the IB50 I think that's bad news for all claimants. :-(

They ask such complicated questions, and then only give you about 2 square inches to answer them in. While I don't want to kill too many trees, I think forms should have enough space to write replies in!

Hugs from sunny Liverpool

Mary said...

no, correction fluid isn't allowed. If you make a mistake, you must clearly cross it out and write your correction, in black pen.

It's like the IB50 in that there's tick-boxes for between 3 and 6 "levels" of difficulty (like walking speed: normal, slow, or very slow) and then a six-line box for "if there is not a box that describes Blah, tell us in your own words here".

I've decided to take a slightly different tack with the form than trying to squeeze everything into the six lines given on the pages.

I will tick the boxes only if they properly apply to me.

I will provide as much additional information as I think is relevant. And, it will be typed, balls to the size of the form. The only things I will handwrite on the form are the static answers (name, date of birth, etc) and the words "Please see Additional Documentation 'Extra Information', page X."

Part of what will be included in aforementioned Extra Information, includes Question 47, about communicating with other people, where I intend to give details about how I find handwriting painful and prefer to use a computer. Or, to put it another way, "I'm not being awkward and refusing to fit in your boxes, honest. This is just a reasonable adjustment..."

Serena said...

Definitely put in a bit about how you've coped filling in the form. I always work entirely in a Word document and then attach it to the form and a friend, who was checking my last claim, made a very good point.

She commented that I needed to explain how I had put my claim together as otherwise, the fact that I'd ended up with a clear, well argued case seriously undermined my case for cognitive and communications problems.

Anonymous said...

*listens to some of the more worrying section answers*
apparently I'm being held responsible for her daily hairdressing requirements...
a worrying thought, for any who have met me (I cut my own hair. length: 7-12mm when cut. style: n/a)

I still think printing *on* the form using 5-point text is the way to go - if they complain, responses like "if *I* can read it, what's your problem?"

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Good luck with it! I always type mine out in a word document and staple them to the form, it's fine so long as your full name, date of birth and national insurance number are at the top of every page, they're quite used to it. BG

Anonymous said...

This is precisely how Nazi Germany started. One minute they want your post code, the next minute they're flooding your shower with Zyklon B and signing a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.


Mary said...

... uh, okay...

I don't object to giving my postcode, it was more that I couldn't believe I'd made a mistake on something that simple.