DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

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DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:51 pm

These tips regarding completing DLA forms come from the Benefits and Work website.

Tip 1.

"You can't claim DLA for help with grocery shopping. But you may be able
to claim for window shopping."


The reason you can't claim for shopping for necessities dates back to a 1981 decision by the late Lord Denning, who was the senior civil judge in the UK at the time. He decided that the activities for which you could claim benefits "do not include cooking, shopping or any of the other things which a wife or daughter does as part of her domestic duties".

And yes, we did say that decision was made in 1981, not 1881.

And claiming DLA for window shopping?

Well that relates to another case known as Mallinson. The judges in this case held that DLA was intended to allow people to live as normal a life as possible and that social and leisure activities were part of a normal life. Therefore help you need with these activities can be included in a DLA claim.

For example, you may suffer from depression and anxiety. You really enjoy walking round the shops, just getting out of the house, looking in the windows and watching passers by. If you can't get out for a few days you start to get 'stir crazy' and your depression and panic attacks can get much worse. But you can't go out alone because you just get far too anxious to even make it out of your front door.

However, if/when you have your partner with you, they can encourage and cajole you to go outdoors and keep you distracted and
relaxed enough to keep the panic to a minimum, allowing you to stay out for half an hour or so, then that should be included in the claim pack under 'Having someone with you when you are outdoors' at question 31.

Give as much detail as possible. Explain what's gone wrong when you've tried to do it alone. What difference having someone with you makes. What's happened to your mental health when you've been stuck indoors for too long. In short, why it is, or would be, reasonable for you to have help with window shopping.

Or if, for example, you have developed a serious visual impairment but still like to play golf you may have a 'buddy' who helps you to find the ball and play safely. This would count as attention with the bodily function of seeing and could be included in a claim.

So, whatever your condition, if there are social and leisure activities that you do, or genuinely would do if you had the help you needed, then give details in the claim pack.

Getting social and leisure activities accepted as part of your claim isn't easy. Decision makers generally hate the idea of people getting DLA for enjoying themselves. You may have to go to appeal and fight for them to be included and there's never any guarantees. But being disabled shouldn't mean you can't enjoy leisure activities as best you can, just like anyone else.

For some claims it may not be worth it, but for others it can be vitally important.

This is because, to get the middle rate for daytime attention needs, you have to show that you reasonably require help both frequently' and 'throughout the day'.

Many people have no problems showing attention needs at the start and end of the day, with things like dressing, undressing and washing. But they struggle to demonstrate these attention needs in the middle of the day.

Which is where social and leisure activities come in. If they are things you do,or would do if you had help, during the middle of the day on at least four days a week, they should be included because they may show your entitlement to additional DLA and premiums.
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 8:57 pm

Tip 2.

You'll see it all over the internet, you'll even hear it from some advisers who should know better:

"Fill in the DLA claim pack as if it was your worst day"

Don't do it. It's bad advice. The worst advice, in fact, because it could get you into serious trouble and it doesn't even make for the
most convincing claim.

Throughout the form you are repeatedly asked to say what difficulties you 'usually' have with different activities.

And when you sign the declaration at the end of the claim pack, you sign to say:

I declare that the information I have given on this form is correct and complete as far as I know and believe. I understand that if I knowingly give false information, I may be liable to prosecution or other action.


If you've knowingly given an entirely false picture of how your condition usually affects you on most days of the week, then you may have to face the consequences. This could include having to repay many thousands of pounds in benefits if it is later shown that your condition does not affect you anything like as badly as you said on the claim pack.

In addition, if you've painted a picture of a condition that never varies, but you have a condition that is known to fluctuate, then your claim will look exaggerated and unconvincing. Not only that, but any medical evidence that's obtained by you or the DWP is more likely to undermine what you've written on the form.

A much more effective strategy is to explain how your condition affects you on an average day - we explain more about just how to do this in the guides - and then use your worst days to give examples of how bad things can get.

That way you've given honest, accurate but also very convincing evidence about the reality of your daily life. You've said what it's like
most of the time, but you've also shown that your condition varies by saying what it's like on your worst days. And you haven't undermined your claim by talking about having 'good' days.

In addition, If you end up having to go to a tribunal to pursue your claim - and fewer than 50% of people get an award on the strength of their initial claim pack - you're likely to get on much better. The evidence you give at the hearing is much more likely to match what you've put in your claim pack and you are much more likely to be accepted as an honest and reliable witness.

On the other hand, if you've only used your worst days in the pack but the truth comes out under close questioning you may be seen as an unreliable witness by the tribunal and awarded nothing at all.

Use the Benefits and Work guides to complete the claim pack and you'll be shown precisely how to give detailed, relevant and accurate evidence in every box that applies to you, with lots of sample answers. We even have a four-step system to make filling in the boxes as simple as possible.

By giving highly detailed, credible evidence you're much more likely to get the award you're entitled to and you'll sleep more soundly at night knowing that you got it by being scrupulously accurate.

Would you like to be sure you avoid the many pitfalls involved in making a claim for DLA? If so, why not find out more about becoming a Benefits and Work member and getting instant access to all our step-by-step DLA guides and other materials from:
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/join-us
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:03 pm

Tip 3.

For the majority of people, whether you have a physical or mental health condition, your best chance of getting an award of DLA may be via the cooking test.

So it's really worth putting a lot of thought and effort into giving detailed evidence about any problems you have with cooking when completing the forms.

What the law says is that if, because of your disability or health condition, you can't prepare a cooked main meal for yourself then this by itself entitles you to the lower rate of the care component of DLA.

If you have a mental health condition, problems might include:~
    Being too tired or depressed to motivate yourself to cook.
    Being unable to make decisions about what to cook and giving up
    altogether.
    Forgetting what you are doing and leaving things to boil dry.
    Getting too confused to be able to plan the timing of cooking different
    ingredients so that they are ready together.
    Having to do things over and over again so that cooking a meal takes
    a very long time indeed.

If you have a physical health condition, you might have problems with
things like:~
    Peeling and chopping vegetables.
    Handling pans of hot liquid.
    Seeing to read labels.
    Opening cans.
    Turning taps on and off.
    Standing up at the cooker.

You need to give as much information as you can about your difficulties. If something is painful for you, where is the pain, what sort
of pain, how long does it last, how intense is it? If you can't do it safely, what are the dangers, have you ever had an accident or come close to having one?

It's also really worth considering what aids or adaptations the decision maker might suggest which, in their view, would mean you would be able to prepare a main meal and so would not be entitled to an award.

Challenging these suggestions in the claim pack before they've even been made could save you having to go all the way to a tribunal to get the award you're entitled to.

For example, decision makers often argue that if you can't safely drain vegetables because you have arthritis in your hands and you are liable to drop a hot pan, then you should use a slotted spoon (a serving spoon with holes in it to allow water to drain away). If you would have any trouble with doing this, then it's important that you say so in your claim pack. For example, because your arthritis you may not have sufficient grip strength or movement in your wrist to use a slotted spoon.

B&W guides forewarn you of possible aids and adaptations relating not just to the cooking test, but to other activities in the claim pack too.
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:12 pm

Tip 4.

Some people believe that there are certain 'magic' words connected to getting DLA.

The theory is to that there are certain key words and phrases that the decision maker is looking for and that if you use these you will get an award.

Sadly it isn't true. The much duller reality is that it's detailed, relevant and persuasive evidence - and plenty of it - that's most likely to get you an award of DLA. Using the four-step system described in our guides can help you create precisely that sort of evidence.

However, whilst there aren't any magic words, there are some material numbers associated with DLA. These are the numbers created by caselaw that help to decide what award of DLA you should get.

For example, the law says that you get the lower rate of the care component if you would benefit from help with bodily functions like
washing, dressing, eating, moving around, etc 'for a substantial portion of the day'. Case law has decide that a substantial portion is
about one hour.

So, when you fill in the pack, a very worthwhile thing to do is count up the numbers in the daytime 'How long each time?' boxes.
If the amount of help you need adds up to at least 60 minutes over the course of the day, then you may be eligible for the lower rate care component.

At night, 20 minutes attention may result in an award of the middle rate of the care component.
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:17 pm

Tip 5.

Imagine it, you've spent many, many hours completing your DLA claim pack. You've stressed, struggled and sweated over it. It's been
one of the most miserable and depressing experiences of your life, forcing you to think over an over again about what you can't do
instead of trying to be positive and think about what you can do.

Finally you finish it. Except for one page at the end entitled 'Statement from someone who knows you'. It says it doesn't have to be filled in, but you guess that having some sort of supporting evidence can only help your case. So, you leave it at your GP's
surgery for your doctor to fill in.

Unfortunately, most people spend a very short amount of time with their GP and can in no way discuss with them the real extent of
their day-to-day problems.

When you get it back, you can't believe what your GP's written. How could they say that they thought you 'Can manage most daily tasks but may need some help with bathing? What about all your other problems? Didn't they even read your form?

Well probably not - where would they find the time?

So now what?

Do you submit the form with this really inaccurate and unhelpful evidence and risk getting nothing? Or do you tear it up, send for a new form and start all over again, perhaps missing out on months' worth of DLA as a result?

You'd have been aware you should never let anyone else write on your DLA claim pack unless you are confident that they understand
your problems. Instead, either photocopy the statement page, or print it off from the downloadable online form, and ask one or more
people to complete it.

If you're happy that their evidence is correct, submit it with your claim pack. On the other hand, you're under no duty to submit inaccurate evidence, so if it is inaccurate don't send it in. .

Alternatively, rather than using the page from the DLA form, ask people to write a letter setting out what they know about how your
condition affects you and give it to you to submit with your claim,

Even if you think this doesn't affect you because you're not going to ask your GP for evidence, you need to understand that the DWP very probably will. There's a very good chance the they will send your GP a 'Factual Report' form to complete about your care and mobility needs. The notes on the form specifically tell your doctor not to contact you before completing the report.
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:23 pm

Tip 6.
Imagine the scenario, You've made a claim for DLA and a doctor has come to do a medical. Halfway through he says 'I just need to have a quick look around to see what aids or adaptations you might need' and disappears up the stairs.

What is he really doing?

In fact, the doctor is doing two things.
The first is answering a question in the medical report which asks the doctor to 'Describe any features of the current accommodation that cause increased problems for the customer e.g. upstairs toilet, steep steps.'

The second is, in accordance with his training, checking to see if you are 'genuinely living the life of a disabled person'.

He will be hunting for: things which he considers do - or don't - fit in with your claimed level of disability, which he can include as
evidence in his report. Unfortunately, this seems to turn some doctors into amateur detectives: they discover 'clues' which they consider significant and write them up in their report without giving you the opportunity to give any evidence about them first..

For example, do you have an inhaler on a high shelf and covered in dust, looking as if it hasn't been used, rather than in easy reach of where you're sitting?

Does the walking stick in the hall have an unmarked and unworn rubber ferrule on the bottom?

Of course, there may be very good explanations for these things: the inhaler is a spare one, you keep the one you use in your pocket at all times and the rubber on your walking stick is new because the old one wore out.

However, the amateur detective doctor may write these things in their report without ever asking you about them and the decision maker will accept his evidence without question. Both of these incorrect assumptions have led to claims turned down, requiring them
to go to tribunal before they were awarded the benefits to which they were entitled.

So, one thing you can do to prepare for a doctor's visit is take a look around and put right anything that might be misinterpreted. For
example, remove the dusty inhaler, or put it where you can reach it.

Another thing you can do is explain to the doctor, before he even notices, the reason for the new rubber on your walking stick.

If the doctor does say they wish to look round your home, it's worth asking them what they are looking for and requesting that they tell you about anything they see which they consider significant.

You could, of course, refuse them permission to look around your house. But the doctor will make a note of this and adverse
conclusions may be drawn by a decision maker or tribunal as a result.

So, being prepared is probably the best strategy.
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Re: DLA Top Tips from Benefits and Work Site

Postby FluppyPuffy » Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:33 pm

Tip 7.

Below are three useful tips to get you started for when/if you need to go thru an appeal hearing and face a grilling from thre pretty scary strangers:~

Travel
The panel will almost certainly ask you how you got to the hearing. For this reason, think carefully about how you do this.

If you regularly use buses and have no difficulties doing so, that's fine. But there is often an assumption by tribunals that people who use public transport have less serious health problems.

They assume that you are regularly able to get to a bus stop and stand for long periods, as well as coping with strangers, crowding, jolting and frequent stops and starts. If you do have to use public transport, as you have no other way of getting there, you may need to take the initiative and explain to the tribunal in great detail any problems that the journey caused you, and may cause for the rest of the day, and what arrangements you have made for getting home.

On the other hand, if you come by car, you may be asked whether you drove yourself, where you parked and how long it took you to
walk from the car park. Again, you may have no choice but to do this,so you will need to explain any difficulties you had.

Obviously, if you do have the kind of problems described above, it's far better to get a lift or a taxi that can drop you at the tribunal door to avoid unnecessary difficulty or pain.

Dress appropriately
Tribunals are very formal and most people want to look smart for them. However, if in your claim pack you have said that you have to wear slip on shoes, elasticated waists or other clothing because of your condition, then you should either:
wear that clothing, because the tribunal will definitely notice if you don't and may draw conclusions from their observations; or
wear smart clothes but actually point out to the panel that this is not what you normally wear and explain any extra help you needed with dressing or how long it took and how much it hurt.

Watch the Chairperson's pen
Any lawyer will tell you that the best policy when answering questions in judicial proceedings, which is what tribunals are, is to do so accurately, concisely and without straying from the point.

So, we're not suggesting you should attempt to lie or hide the truth at your hearing. But the best policy is definitely to answer each question as best you can and then . . . keep quiet.

Claimants often get themselves into difficulties by talking too much. They will accurately explain the problems they have with, for example, standing for more than a few minutes. But then, because there is a long silence after they've given their answer they will add something like:
I did have to stand for 10 minutes at the shop to get the electricity meter key charged the other week. My husband normally does that, but he was ill that day and we would have had no heating that night if I hadn't gone.


The decision about your DLA is based on how you are the majority of the time - what you can manage on the occasional better day, or what you had to do in spite of the pain that it caused, because you had no choice, isn't relevant. If the tribunal specifically asks you what's the longest you've been able to stand recently, or something like that, then of course you need to answer accurately.

But bringing up things that you haven't been asked prolongs the hearing, can make tribunal chairs tetchy because they start running late and, unless the tribunal takes the time to gather more evidence, can leave a misleading impression about your condition.

It's undoubtedly true true that if there are long pauses and panel members are staring at you it's hard not to blurt something out, just to fill the silence.

But what you should do is watch the Chairperson's pen. Is it moving? If yes, then the Chair is still writing notes. The two other panel members know better than to start asking questions until the Chair has caught up. So they're just staring at you to pass the time. Watch the pen. When it stops moving and the Chair looks up, the questions will undoubtedly start again.


That's it, all the tips.. hope they help some of you :bear-dancing: :bear-dancing: :bear-dancing: :bear-dancing: :bear-dancing:
As a Public Moderator of this forum my opinions/views expressed are personal and are no more valid than those of other members and not necessarily those of UKFibromyalgia.

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