Should I give up now?

Isn’t it interesting? The paranoia about benefit scroungers, I mean.

On Radio 4 , Government figures quoted that 0.5% of Disability Living Allowance claims were fraudulent. Let’s say that they are in error by 100% and the actual figure of those claiming falsely is 1% .

This means that they are harassing 99% of claimants needlessly to save money. How does that work, I wonder? We have seen that systems anywhere can be abused: look at the banks, or  MPs expenses, just to give an idea. Many people will try to fool a system if they can: even the honourable gentlemen.

But Disability Living Allowance?  Please, be serious.

Anyone who has to fill in the intrusive and humiliating questions would not do so if there was an alternative. Anyone would not want to put themselves in front of ATOS at the whim of legislation, unless there was no option.

We hear of are those who are claiming without justification, so let me tell you my story.

I have had epilepsy all my life.  Regardless of this, I trained in Nursing , eventually becoming a Ward Sister. I worked and saved throughout  my life to avoid  dependency on Benefits at any time. I had Insurance Policies for every eventuality: I believed that I was bullet proof.

What I did not take account of was that I would become unemployed before I required to access these policies. Once unemployed, no policy for disability was valid. If you have one of these – check! It is in the small print.

In 2006, my lifelong condition of epilepsy raised its head again, and became very unstable.Unable to find employment, I took up voluntary work with the Police, and trained in disability support, holding a voluntary Consultant post with them for two years. I was told that any money I received in expenses had to be reported.

In 2008,  after a review at ATOS, my DLA was stopped, as I  was considered “not disabled”. I had been reviewed by a doctor who spoke minimal English, and who told me that my epilepsy would “go away” within a year.(I wonder what other fairy stories he read?) I was told I would have to appeal.

“How long will that take?” I asked.

“Oh, months and months” was the answer, which beggared belief.

During this time, things had become so critical that I had to draw down part of my lump sum from my pension that was earmarked to pay off my mortgage. When this draw-down hit my bank Account, the wonderful systems that we have in this country were triggered, and I was investigated for fraud. I had to explain that the money was to pay off debt that was being incurred from having no income. I was exonerated, but I was furious at the implications, and I had to inform the Police that this had occurred, because I did not know if i would still be acceptable to them……………..In the meantime, my husband became ill.

Once my money had been reinstated by the tribunal, he was  judged to be “fit”,and  his Incapacity benefit was stopped for nine months.( He has been disallowed DLA twice, so far, although he has now been transferred to the Transplant unit!.) We had to pay bills, eat, pay the mortgage. It was around this time that it stopped being an amusing experience and you upped the gear to survival mode.We mustered our arguments again and fought at a tribunal again, but this all gets very time-consuming.

We lost our credit rating due to the lack of Income – so there is no slack.

We struggled through 2010 and 2011, but with all the savings now gone, we need to consider what we can sell.

Yesterday, the pension people sent me a statement and £22,000 has been wiped off my savings in the last six months. So it is not looking  exceptionally optimistic. The postman has become “the messenger of doom” all financial envelopes I call “death notices”. It is very important to be able to laugh.

 Now, unable to pay off the mortgage, I have drawn on the vehicle I set up to prevent me becoming homeless.

Guess what? DWP do not understand that this money is to keep a roof over my head, and have cut my Income Support. I have no idea what will happen next, or what other disasters can possibly befall me.

Our disabled athletes created a sensation at the Paralympic Games.  They were able to pick a pen off the floor, or put their arms above their head, but nobody tried to pretend they were anything other than disabled people who had invested tremendous effort.

They were seen as inspirational.

unfortunately, with the present system,  which causes further disablement, there is very little reserve. It is so unfortunate that those in charge of the system CANNOT SEE the repercussions of their actions, and the slow, silent volcano that is gradually building.

Linda Jane McLean



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