Saturday, April 19, 2008


Another bit of benefit tangle is a step closer to being untangled.

Long-time readers will recall how, back in November last year, I got a job. A month later, I found that despite having formally and officially told everyone and their dog, as soon as I found out, that I was starting paid employment, I was still being paid Incapacity Benefit. Eventually I got them to stop it, but no one could tell me what would happen to the erroneously-paid money sitting in my bank account.

Well, today - several months on - I finally got a letter about it. The letter stops short of actually accusing me of wilful fraud, but I was less than amused by the weasel phrase "too much Incapacity Benefit has been paid. This is because of your work."

No. My entitlement to Incapacity Benefit stopped because of my work. The issue of too much Incapacity Benefit being paid was because of the failure of the DWP to act on the information about my change in circumstances, which I had gone to all reasonable lengths to convey to several of their departments, both over the phone and in writing.

I am reminded that I must pay it back because it is THE LAW. Gosh.

I'm perfectly happy to pay it back, as it's not money that I was entitled to receive in the first place. But would it kill them to apologise for their mistake? Or for taking four months after I spotted and told them about their mistake to decide what to do about it?

Anyway, I have to phone up and arrange to set up a method of repayment. Annoyingly, I can't do this today as their phone number is Monday-Friday only, which I wouldn't mind, except for some reason DWP postal communications via Business Post UK Mail only ever arrive on a Saturday when the helplines are all shut. I am sure this isn't just to spoil people's weekend with news of a stressful issue they can't take action or advice about for 48 hours, but I have to admit, I do wonder why.

And Now For Something Completely Different...

...a quick reminder about Blogging Against Disablism Day 2008.


Anonymous said...

Grr to DWP's incompetence :-( I agree that it's very rude to make it sound like your fault when you actually told them about it.

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

The wonders of modern administration!! I hope it gets sorted soon

Mary said...

I just need to figure out which method of payment will get me the most reliable receipt to add to my file so that in a month or so, when they say "you haven't paid," I can prove that yes, I have.

Still. Every little wrangle is a step closer to being OUT of the system.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe they are out to get you like this :(

Mary said...

They're not out to get me, that's the problem.

Which is more likely:

1. That all of these problems I am experiencing with every part of the system are only happening to me and people I know, while everyone else's claims slide through in hassle-free bliss?

2. That this is happening to hundreds, if not thousands of people in similar positions and that I, and all the other disability bloggers experiencing these problems, are simply representative of the norm?

Personally I think 2 is much more likely.

Naomi J. said...

Oh, it's just marvellous, isn't it - the way it's always ALL OUR FAULT? The more I hear about the admin errors that ruin people's lives at the DWP, the more I can't believe it is still allowed to go on. Well, at least they're not prosecuting you for fraud (which appears to happen to other disabled people on the receiving end of these mistakes. Incredible stuff...) Hope you can get it sorted one day soon!

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