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DWP, IB and me.

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Giraffe-a-licious | 15:00 UK time, Tuesday, 22 January 2008

I'm waiting for an envelope. Well waiting for the contents of an envelope, to be more accurate. But the envelope is what I'm on the look-out for. An envelope in that fetching shade of brown, with my full name printed in that attractive government standard font, peeking out from behind its little plastic window. They seem to delight in letting the world know my middle name. My fate resides inside the envelope. Am I to be summoned to a medical examination or simply left to get on with my life, incapacity benefit intact? Not to be pessimistic but I get the feeling that the latter is a bit of a pipe dream. I shall be summoned to the ridiculous medical examination to discuss all of my invisible symptoms. They may as well call it a medical interrogation. No examination is going to help them assess my physical capabilities.

I have a hate-hate relationship with the DWP. Yes, I'm grateful for the benefits I receive. I'm glad there is a welfare state. But for goodness sake they need to get their act together and recognise that there are numerous illnesses and conditions for which their forms and examinations are about as relevant as a mobile phone to a hedgehog.

I loathe those forms with every atom of my being! Do they not understand that a disability can vary from day to day? Who knows if tomorrow I'll be able to pick up and carry a 2.5kg bag of potatoes? I seem to have to fill in every 'More information' section on the whole form to clarify and explain my answers. I have no problem walking up and down stairs - actually, I do have a problem walking up and down stairs but none of your options are applicable to me! It's blinking depressing having to think through every aspect of my life and how it is difficult for me without then having to formulate it into some sort of coherent paragraph that the lackeys at the DWP will understand. It's like talking to a small child - I have to spell it out to them, one syllable at a time!

I just about survived filling the Incapacity Benefit forms this time round but DLA still eludes me. Early last year I had a severe relapse and decided that it was worth my applying for it again. Before I had reached page four, my will to live had started to eye the exits and a few minutes later it made a beeline for the front door. Sad to say, I gave up. The stress of the whole exercise was too much for me in the state of health that I was. Even with my mum's help I just couldn't deal with it. David Cameron may be planning to cut the number of IB claimants but he needs to look further than that. The whole system needs a radical overall; starting with new, relevant forms for those of us with fluctuating disabilities.

All those in favour, say aye!

• Visit Ponderings and Ruminations


  • 1.
  • At 12:07 AM on 09 Jan 2008, Alision wrote:

Claim DLA whilst you can. They know those forms put folk off, thats the whole idea. When your trying to cope with changing circumstances and using all your engery for just basic everyday stuff, its hard to make time and gets your thoughts togeather to fill the forms. DO IT, appeal for all its worth. Get CAB or your local disabilty direct to help! Please fill out the forms.
The questions are daft and ridicolous, its not even personel with them. It just feels very personel when its happening to you!
PLEASE PLEASE APPLY and get help from somone who knows how to fill them out, it increases your chances.
best wishes

I think explaining all the ins and outs of the difficulties that you experience, one syllable at a time, is kind of the point of the forms. I totally agree it's a stressful, demoralising and unpleasant thing to do, but unless you tell them every syllable of your situation, how are they going to have a chance to even try and understand? It's not like they can hand over the money just for asking.

The part that makes my blood boil is when they summarily ignore everything you've painstakingly written out on your forms in favour of the opinion of a nonspecialist doctor who's met you for five minutes.

I am completely with you on the issue of redesigning the disability benefits system.

I would also encourage you to go for DLA. Get your friends to help you - you must know tons of DLA-receiving people via the blogging world - such as myself! :) I really do think the disabled community has to come together to support each other in all of this while the benefits system is so appalling stacked against us. It's absolutely worth the trouble of applying - it took me seven months, one application, one reconsideration attempt and one very stressful appeal which found in my favour in the end.

  • 4.
  • At 04:50 PM on 23 Jan 2008, dean wrote:

I have recently received back a letter telling me that I am not entitled to incapacity benefit then they send another form asking also to send a MED 4 with it . I couldn't agree more the questions are stupid I can lift a 2.5kg bag of potatoes but have back pain doing it and the same when I walk.
It is made difficult for genuine claimants to make a claim while bogus claimants take their time and learn how to fill in the forms so they can get the money

  • 5.
  • At 04:01 PM on 24 Jan 2008, Ceri wrote:

I don't qualify for incapacity benefit as I don't have enough NI credits, I get Income support with disability premium. You say bogus claimants, well you may perceive it that way but I am claiming under the Mental health act, I don't profess to have any physical illness. I went for a Medical examination/board last year & passed, I am unfit for work due to the state of my mental health. I am not greedy, I have never put in for DLA although it would help me significantly. I spend £50 a week on transport & what money I have left on food for the week I'm not entitled to a bus pass, as I'm not claiming DLA. I agree with one of the above comments that the medical examination/board should be known as a medical interrogation. I broke down crying at my medical examination due to the un-qualified doctors insulance, repeating a question that I had done my upmost to answer to someone I don't know. So becarefull when you say bogus claimants, as people have tried saying that about me, & although you can't see my condition I am generally suffering with Mental illness that can also fluctuate in severity from day to day.

  • 6.
  • At 05:29 PM on 24 Jan 2008, Kathryn Williams wrote:

Took the moan right out of my mouth! I am currently without my IB, until I am fit enough to get myself down to the Benefits shop for help filling out the re-claim form.
Winter is my worst time, both physically and mentally. I can't cope with filling out the form - I go fuzzy just thinking about it. I tried phoning the IB office with an explanation - they told me that my benefit will be withheld until I send them the completed form, along with a covering letter explaining why it is late. So I'm stuck without help until I get well enough to start fighting again.


Thanks for the blog, it's nice to know I'm not alone.

i have just been through the hoop jumping with dla and gess what they have down graded me from middle rate to lower rate , yet i still have the same problems that i had 2yrs ago i allso agreed to go for a medical made no diff , and igot help the aged to fill in the forms for me , it seem to me that its like playing a game he who dare wins ,yet people who have the same condition as me have got there dla for life,how can that be ?i think this needs to be challanged with eec human rights court because the sytem is very very flawed

  • 8.
  • At 08:53 AM on 25 Jan 2008, CC wrote:

I realise the frustration with filling in long and complicated forms but just think about it. There are hundreds of different types and levels of disability. As commenter number two said - teh DWP need to know if you're genuine or if you're trying it on (not suggesting you are, but it's ultimately public money and they have to be certain of these things). Given the range of possibilities then the form is going to be long and complicated. Sadly, that's life.

In order to get our money - benefit or salary - most people have to do soul destroying, tedious, annoying jobs. Why should getting disability benefit be different?

  • 9.
  • At 02:20 PM on 25 Jan 2008, fiona howarth wrote:

i totally understand where you are coming from, i had help 6 months ago to fill out my dla application, i have now been refused 3 times and its was my neurologist that they used as a basis for my application, the truth was told that being in a wheelchair and being unable to dress myself and need help into the shower every day was making it hard for me to look after myself. yet they still decided i am able to walk 100 metres at an adequate speed and do not need a carer to help me remain as independant as possible. keep your chin up and persevere, im just looking forward to all that back-dated money after they look at the letter my doctor sent them this time! i had help with my forms yet still computer says no, well maybe 4th times the charm!

  • 10.
  • At 11:32 PM on 26 Jan 2008, liz tredrea wrote:

I too feel that the forms need to be reviewed. I am physically disabled and the forms (more or less) work for my conditions. However, filling in the forms for my husband and son who both have Aspergers is a nightmare. It isn't that they don't need less support than I do it is just that they need a different type of support. Luckily it is a support that I can give even though they have to look after me. I fully understand that there are false claimants out there who are making a mockery of the system but why doesn't the government start by talking to people who are unable to work due to disability and ask for their assistance in redrawing the forms. Don't get some faceless person who has never come into contact with disabled people working on it. Also don't expect computers to be able to make judgements on disabled folk.

Quote: "In order to get our money - benefit or salary - most people have to do soul destroying, tedious, annoying jobs. Why should getting disability benefit be different?"

I have no problem with filling in forms per se. I understand that they need the information in order to grant my benefit. But I truly believe that the forms currently used are inappropriate for the illnesses and disabilities of many of those claiming. And yes, a lot of people have to do rubbish jobs in life. But this is not a case of mere tedium; the stress of filling in these forms has made me more ill and I don't think that it should be necessary or tolerated.

Thanks for all the feedback guys :)

  • 12.
  • At 09:38 AM on 29 Jan 2008, michelle valentine wrote:

Someone has referrred to DWP 'lackeys'. My mother was one of those until recently, and I would agree with comments about forms and medical examinations, but I would say that it's DWP systems that are at fault, the people who have to process claims often get no disability awareness or equality training which is job relevant, and they have to work to rigid work processes and scripts. DWP needs root and branch reform, done in tandem with disabled people, not a cosmetic exercise.

Quote: 'Someone has referrred to DWP 'lackeys'. My mother was one of those until recently...'

No offence meant Michelle. I have no doubt that DWP employees do their best. You're right when you say that the systems are at fault. When I said 'lackeys' it was just a lazy way of referring to the Department as a whole rather than the individual employees. I don't envy the decisions they have to make with the limited and often inappropriate information that they are given from the forms.

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