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Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:32 am
by Walrus
Laying in bed at 4am this morning with my brain working overdrive (why does it work in the middle of the night but won't work during the day?) I thought it might be a good idea to put down my experience of claiming benefits.

While I was on holiday earlier this year, living up to my name, surrounded by lots of other walruses soaking up the sun, with the occasional penguin(you know, the small ones jumping around asking for ice cream and drinks) us walruses were packed in so tight on the sun beds you had no option but to talk to the next walrus, the lady next to me asked why I wasn't claiming ESA. I had no idea what she was talking about and she explained I could claim contributions based ESA.

Having returned a little pinker than I went I looked into this ESA thing and found I may be able to claim as I had had to give up work in March because of my fibro. I submitted my claim over the phone and was pleasantly surprised to get a letter confirming I was entitled to get £73.10 per week. I was a very happy walrus as we were definitely missing my full time wage when it came to buying the weekly fish.

I then got a questionnaire to fill in. It ran for pages and pages and I had to get the OH to help me fill it in. It took us a couple of days but we duly sent it back in good time before the tide ran out.

I then got another letter, this time telling me Inhad to attend for an assessment with a 'Healthcare Professional'. Just what was this, I had no idea what to expect. Would I have to swim lengths? Would I have to do press-ups? Did I need to train for this assessment? I had sent a medical certificate in from my Dr, wasn't that enough? Didn't they believe my Dr?

Neverthless I attended with my OH has requested. Thankfully the assessment was nothing more than a virtual repeat of the form I had already filled in along with a very gentle examination of how high I could lift my flippers. The lady who carried out the assessment was very nice and very patient with my brain fog. She also suggested I should apply for something called PIP. Again I had no idea what this was, something to do with citrus fruit? No, she explained, because I cannot really go anywhere without my OH I could be entitled to another benefit.

A few days later I rang the DWP and applied for this PIP. I have not heard back yet other than to say they have received the application.

Another letter then arrived, this time telling me I was now entitled to £102.15 a week for me ESA? I don't know why, but who am I to argue. It will buy a few more pilchard :-) .

Guess what, go on, see if you can guess :idea: :?:

I'll bet you got it right. Another letter!

This time it was an invitation (or should that be a summons) to attend a 'Work Focused Interview'? Now I am really confused. I have sent in a medical certificate saying I cannot work. I have to go to the Jobcentre. What job do they think I can do? I have to sleep at different times of the day, half the time I can't remember my own name let alone anything else and my flippers are very painful and stiff. I had to give up a perfectly good job that I enjoyed because I couldn't cope with working.

The OH (who has to come with me so I don't get lost and to explain my problems because I can't remember all of them) and I attend and meet a very nice man who asks me a few questions like what job do I think I can do. He explains I have been put in the 'Work Related Activity Group' for 2 years but he suggests I am in the wrong group and that I should ask for a reconsideration. He then makes me an appointment for a few weeks time, I am not quite sure what the purpose of this appointment it, maybe they just like to check that I haven't been eaten by a killer whale.

So now I ring DWP again and ask for a copy of my medical report, which arrives a couple of days later. It is very fair but states there is little chance of me working in the next 2 years and improvement is unlikely in the longer term. DWP ask me to send in a letter requesting a reconsideration preferably supported by a Dr's letter. I ask my GP for a letter and he explained that If they want a report they can ask for one and he will happily supply one and they will have to pay for it. Apparently this is a favourite trick of DWP, get the claimant to get the letter and they don't have to pay for it, and the Dr doesn't get paid for it either.

I am one very confused walrus. My Dr has said I can't work. Their 'Health Professiona' has said I can't work. The man at the Jobcentre has said I can't work but a pen pusher wants me to attend the Jobcentre every few weeks to see what I am doing to get back into work!

I will keep you informed ..............

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:53 am
by Mandae
Hi, I love your post it put a well needed smile on my face :-D

All I can say is the DWP are idiots there is no way they should be making you go. I would love to know how you got your doctor to sign you off sick. I had trouble getting mine to sign me off for a week so I could get used to my new meds. I have just applied for PIP and I'm dreading them contacting her about my condition cos she never listens. She seems to think that Gabapentin will solve all my problems.

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:02 pm
by Walrus
glad it brought a smile to your face.

I am very lucky. My Dr is very understanding about fibro. he has been checking me every 2 weeks to find a painkiller that works. I have been onpregabalin but it isn't working so he is changing me to gabapentin, but you have to make the change slowly.

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:11 pm
by Mandae
You are so lucky I asked mine to reference me to pain management at the local hospital so I can have things like pace therapy and she refused because the waiting list is about 9 months and there is no guarantee they will give me the therapys I want. I have been of offered cognitive behaviour therapy by the people who diagnosed me but that mean an hour and a half public transport ride to get there. As I can't even get on a bus for a 20 min ride to work without having a panic attack, how am I ment to do that.
Sorry about the rant, it just makes me angry. I feel better now.

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:06 pm
by UnderSiege
Hi Walrus.

Great post. I love your sea life related jokes especially the penguins lol.

I too was awake still at 4am and in fact didn't retire until after 5. This is the case most nights as I'm at the peak of my abilities between 8-9 pm and sun up. Seems I start each day late, spend most of it recovering and by the time I'm at near normal function everybody else is going to bed. This was the case before Fibro too. I tried to change to a early morning rise and bed at 8pm or something but I felt worse overall especially the feeling I'd missed something the night before and anyway, atm, my circumstances carry such stress, anxiety and regret that I sit into the night, brain fighting demons and can't sleep until totally wiped out...

I've also had similar problems with GP's and DWP. I had pretty sick osteoarthritis from 18 (38 now) that very quickly had a massive effect on my ability to do fulltime work, mostly for reliability issues. It actually got misdiagnosed for a number of years, being labelled sciatica, lumbago and 'muscle fatigue/strain' (what? for 5 years? ok doc, whatever you say...) In fact I wonder if it still hasn't been correctly diagnosed...
So for a good while I was sent to the JC to apply for jobs I couldn't do and attend interviews I couldn't ace... low qualifications meant that it was all going to be physically intensive work and teenage malnutrition meant I at the time weighed 8 or so stone of nothing @ 5 foot 8... low qualifications because of the state (long story) and my family interfering in any higher education I attempted
So I was repeatedly kicked off JSA or whatever it was called back then and ended up broke, homeless and with some very bad habits...

I've since had better times, a marriage that failed (her fault, binge cheating) and am now unsafe and unsnug in the arms of my awful family. I think all my good days are past now.

This week coming up I have my PIP appointment, after holding off from claiming for a long time on principle that I'm not lazy and didn't need the help... I didn't want to be greedy. It's my depressing and soul destroying life circumstances that are the main issue here, not the pain, fatigue etc. Those are things I've been dealing with for a long time now and I like to think I have a good handle on my limitations...

Anyway, you're spot on. These ppl are supposed to be of help but are just another pain in the rear regions. All the back and forth just makes things worse overall... and as for me, I still feel I lost years which, if better supported could've counted...
I wonder if I can get compensation for lost time, damages from neglect etc? Seems to work for everybody else right? (compensation culture)

Have a good one.

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:29 pm
by Walrus
An overdue update (abbreviated so it doesn't turn into a book...)

PIP - As I expected, despite being advised to apply by the Health Professional who carried out my ESA assessment, I don't qualify. I wonder if all these suggestions are designed to give someone else in another tentacle of the DSS octopus something to do to justify their existence.

ESA - As suggested by the man at the Jobcentre tentacle I requested a reconsideration. I pointed out the absurd situation that I was in, everybody agreed I couldn't work and the prospect to that changing was non-existent and I couldn't understand why I was having to have meetings with the Jobcentre every few weeks. The man at the Jobcentre was very nice and agreed these meetings could be by telephone rather than me having to struggle into the Jobcentre. I did find one of his questions very strange, could I work in the local fish and chip shop for an hour a week. :yikes: Apart from the obvious unease about cooking other occupants of the sea I didn't think it likely the local fish and chip shop would give someone so unsteady on their feet and confused about things a job so close to hot oil, I would be a nightmare to carry out a health and safety assessment on :-) . :penguin:

To continue ... I received a letter. Guess what, The reconsideration upheld the original decision, The answer was basically the Health Professional was aware of everything when carrying out her assessment and that had been taken into account when her decision was reached. What a complete waste of time, other than another tentacle having something to do. i could appeal this either by submitting papers to a tribunal or by having a hearing with them. I opted for a hearing.

The hearing was listed for one day last week. Mr Walrus and I spent several hours over the week before the hearing going through their decision letter in detail. As you can imagine this was very tiring and difficult. I could only do about half an hour at a time and there was no way I could have done it without Mr Walrus.

I bought a new dress for the hearing, Mr Walrus pressed his suit and we spent a lot of time discussing the hearing. I was very nervous, I couldn't sleep (no change there)' I couldn't eat and I kept snapping at Mr Walrus.

The hearing was due to take place at 2pm. We were up early, both of us nervous and concerned about the hearing. just after 10am the phone rang. It was the tribunal. They had looked at the papers and decided my appeal should be allowed, I was now in the Support Group and there was no need for me to attend!

To sum up, the Health Professional said I couldn't work, my Dr said I couldn't work, the man at the Jobcentre said I couldn't work, the DSS octopus said I was in the Work Support Group, the reconsideration tentacle said I was in the Work Support Group and the tribunal (without seeing me) decided I should be in the Support Group. To me this suggests the DSS octopus will do everything they can to put us poor sea dwellers off claiming what we are entitled to. If at any stage I had not had a supportive husband who was bloody minded I would have accepted their decisions. The fact that the Tribunal changed the decision on exactly the same information as the big octopus said justified me being in the WRA group is mystifying.

My advice, don't be put off. If you think you have been incorrectly put in the WRA group appeal it, and if necessary keep appealing. If the octopus puts obstacles in your way keep swimming. :penguin: :woot:

Re: Walrus' story - Benefits Street

PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:47 pm
by macca
The key now is to ask for written confirmation of the reason/s why you have been admitted to the support group for ESA i.e. which descriptor was satisfied and then have a fresh look at whether that now puts a new light on PIP, as it might do just that.