Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Stress free......Aaarggggg

Let me tell you about my week, are you sitting comfortably?
I will start by reminding you that I have a progressive medical condition, I won't go into it all again here but if you're interested previous blogs detail the actual condition so have a read.
Two years ago I went through the ATOS assessment when I could no longer work due to the severity of this condition, the doctor that assessed me was actually very nice, this in itself is unusual judging by the horror stories I have heard from others.
She declared me unfit for work, she stated this was a progressive condition and it was highly unlikely I would ever be able to return to employment.
So far so good.
DWP however decided to place me in the work related activity group (WRAG)
I could have appealed that decision but at the time this whole thing was very new and the DWP advisor advised me to leave it as it was obvious they couldn't do anything with me so would just leave me alone, fair enough, when you are trying daily to adapt to your ever increasing limitations the last thing you need to be doing is fighting the authorities.
With all that has been happening around the welfare cuts and in particular the withdrawal of ESA after a year from claimants that are in the WRAG group I found myself getting more and more stressed about my already uncertain future.
You see my ESA will stop at the end of this month,
because I am miraculously cured? Unfortunately not.
It seems it matters not one bit that I worked for over 25 years and paid my tax and NI like a good citizen, one year was all I was going to be allowed to claim this benefit for.
When my condition flared horribly in February I went to see my GP, I explained the stress was stopping me sleeping and affecting my day to day life, she advised me to notify DWP of my worsening condition and asked me to refer them to her for the medical details and the effects this disease had on my daily living.
This I did, I filled out the horrific forms where you have to list every intimate detail regarding your life, I enclosed photos of my hands swollen, red and sore with broken skin, I enclosed letters from my two consultants that detailed clearly what condition I have and the prognosis and I even enclosed the statement from their own doctor stating I will not be likely to return to work from two years previously.
Four times in the past month DWP have contacted me, good you might think, they are on the ball but no, the contact has been to remind me that my ESA will stop next week. What fun they must be having talking to all of us 'sick' people and telling us that we will get no more money of off them.
Not a word about the forms I put in back in February so last Thursday I rang them, three times I held on listening to the same music for 15 to 20 minutes each time before being told all their advisors were too busy to take any more calls and to call back later.
Eventually on my fifth attempt I got to speak to someone, they seem to have a call centre type set up that you get through to first, security questions-ok, details of why you are calling-ok and then they get someone who can help you? To call you back within 3 hours. Ok, I'll live with that.
Yes someone did phone me back after 3 hours and after explaining all over again about the forms I had put in February and asking for developments I was told I was talking to the wrong person for that.
For the sake of clarity I must point out here that DWP had insisted in March that I fill out identical forms to see if I qualified for income based ESA, this lady I was talking to knew all about those forms but the ones I was enquiring about? No.
Wrong department apparently, could she put me through to the right department? No I would have to go through the whole sorry process again.
Two more 20 minute waits on the phone and finally there I was back at square one....same security questions, same explanation about why I was calling, same answer, I will get someone to call you back!
Friday morning someone called me back, a man this time from the 'right department'
February's forms?
no idea, hadn't got them, hadn't seen them, had no record of them, didn't know where they were.
Those forms were there two weeks after my sending them because the woman who phoned me re income based ESA had them in her drawer, they had gone to the wrong department, sent in the envelope they provide, a brown one which apparently was the wrong one! She promised to send them on to the right department although why they had lain in her drawer for two weeks she couldn't or wouldn't explain, this was at the beginning of March, so they we're there then and now they weren't!
Ah but he could see by looking at my present claim that I was overdue for an ATOS assessment, he would get them to ring me and sort that out.
If they were being sensible and efficient the forms and the evidence I had sent it would make it pretty clear that an assessment wasn't actually necessary but hey it's only the tax payers money they are wasting!
And my lost forms? My change of medical circumstances form? All that evidence?
Well he would ring them upstairs and ask them to look again"..................

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

Oh dear Penny so sad :-( so frustrating for you and so many others I have spoken too! Frustrating for you and for the able bodied people that can still manage to work, but still care very much. Damn government ! Almost wish one of them to be struck with some debilitating disease just so they can experience how you feel!
No wonder you feel stressed mate.. Understandable you have enough to cope with.
No wonder you are a bad tempered moody baggage.... Only joking mate xx don't know how you stay so cheerful.
Your mate The happy Eve xxx

feline9 said...

I would say it was unbelievable, but I have read so many horror stories. Oh Penny what a bloody awful time to have to go through on top of trying to cope with your illness. It is so bloody unfair. I hope you manage to get your situation sorted out out soon, it is horrible to have to live with this all hanging over you. xx

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

So sorry to read all of this! I know people here have problems but things seem to have gotten so much worse were you live in the past year. My heart just goes out to you.

Jane said...

Oh Penny,
Were you not having to cope with the day to day battle of your condition, it would be frustrating enough!

Constantly having to chase the ruddy DWP must be your worst nightmare, especially as it's a no brainer that you should be getting ESA anyway.

I really hope you can sort it out, don't give up, that would be letting them win. We can't have that, after all that's what this Government want. The fewer who fight, the more money they save.

Take care,
Jane xx