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Putting genuine people through Hell...
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Member Name: Blurbubble
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Date: 14/06/02, updated on 18/03/05 (725 review reads)
Advantages: Financial support when you cannot cope
Disadvantages: Lenght of time taken to process claims, impersonal treatment
It's not often I have a bit of a rant so let's put that right and I'll have one here!
I had worked full time and paid full tax and National Insurance all my adult life up until January 2000 when I became ill. For about a month I battled on but at the end of January 2000 and I was signed off work sick by my doctor and unfortunately this has now become a long term illness/disability (Myalgic Encephalomyletis/M.E). For the first few months I remained on full pay from my employers afterwhich I went on to Statutory Sick Pay for about 2 further months, after that I was/would have been left with no income.
With reluctance I knew I had to claim benefits or live on thin air. I put in claims for Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance - I met the application criteria for both. To begin with finding out what you may be entitled to is a nightmare - you can go to your local Benefits Agency, ring them or consult the Citizens Advice Bureau - I know that now but many people do not know where to find the information. I collected the forms from the Benefits Agency and duly filled them in. I am well used to forms from my line of work but these were still long and complicated.
I sent off the completed forms together with any proof of identity or supporting information needed (doctors letters, sick notes etc) and received an acknowledgement that they had received my applications a few weeks later, advising me that it may take around six weeks to process my claim. So I waited and waited and waited.......
I rang them a few times to enquire about my applications and each time was told that it was "being processed" and I should hear something soon.
To cut a long story short two months later I was notified that I had been accepted for Incapacity Benefit and EIGHT months later I received the same concerning the Disability Living Allowance. Both Benefits were back paid from the claim date but I am intrigued
to know what they expect claimants to live on in the meantime?? Income Support claims seem to take nearly as long as well and they can be more urgent!
So all was fine for about 6 to 8 months until the time came for renewal applications and reviews for both Benefit claims. I was visited by a Benefits Agency doctor to review my Disability claim - he asked and did very little and wrote a report that was a pile of rubbish and ended up with my renewal being refused - I appealed and supplied CORRECT information from my doctor and my Occupational Therapist and my Benefit was eventually reinstated to run for two years - this process took 5 months.
Again for my Incapacity Benefit review I had another visit from a Benefits Agency doctor ( a different one) who wrote a very different report and I had a letter within a week confirming that my Benefit would remain in place for the following year (subject to any change of circumstances of course). So why the difference??
I'm sorry that this account is maybe rather garbled but to list all the in and outs would take forever and this gives a basic overview of my experience from the DSS.
My basic point is that, while I appreciate that there are fraudsters out there costing taxpayers a great deal, surely they should realise that claims for benefits from sick or disabled people supported by firm medical evidence shouldn't be treated with the same amount of suspicion? The majority of fraud takes place with Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit. I know from many contacts with the same condition as myself that making a successful claim for Incapacity Benefit or Disability Allowance is difficult, time-consuming and much harder to do fraudulently. Some of these people I know of have terminal illnesses or far more severe disabilities than my own which cannot be "faked" yet they get the same sort of treatment!! Is it really fair to treat EVERYONE as a cheat or fraud? (Guilty until
For myself and many others this whole process can exacerbate any ill effects, stress etc through its complicated procedure and the sheer length of time involved (very rarely less than two to three months). I think the DSS needs to take another look at its system within these areas and exercise more compassion and common sense.
Thank you for listening/reading!
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