Disability benefits: why this is an important issue in the upcoming UK election

Why the UK election is important to the sick and disabled

If you are in the U.K. And registered to vote, please use that vote on June 8th. This is why it matters to me…

This is a rant I’ve posted on Facebook about the current welfare state and why this election is so important for that reason. But I want to add this: whatever your political leaning, whether you agree with me or not, even if you’ve lost all faith in our political system, please go and vote on June 8th.

If you will struggle to physically get out and vote, ring up one of your local parties and ask them to drive you. And register for a postal vote for next time.

While I’d prefer you did vote for someone, if you really do not want to vote for any of the parties, then you can still go spoil your ballot, because here’s a secret: the more people like you who vote, the more each party will care about people like you at the next election, make manifestos aimed at pleasing people like you, and ultimately govern for people like you.

And if you didn’t register to vote, go do so now so you’re at least on the electoral register for next time.

My despair at the disability benefit system

I haven’t been that political on social media. But I whole heartedly agree with Hannah of Super Pooped: Adventures for the Exhausted¬†when she explains that she is being political herself in the run up to the UK election because becoming sick made her hyper aware of how lucky she is to have family who could take her in and look after her, and how bad things are for those who do not.

I am lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who has stuck by me through illness and financial stress. I also am lucky enough to know if he wasn’t there, my parents would take me in.

There are so many people who aren’t so lucky and for these people the welfare state, the NHS etc are crucial. By crucial I mean life or death here.

I don’t think people realise how awful the current welfare system is. The first time I applied for ESA I spiralled into depression. The second time it set my health back and I did not recover from this.

To successfully get disability benefits you have to:

A) Know the specific things you have to write on the forms, that they don’t ask you to write on the form, which mean they can tick their boxes when going through it and you get awarded points.

B) If you haven’t got a ton of letters from specialists, then technically the DWP should request information from your GP. But they don’t. Which means if you want any medical evidence to back up your forms, you’re going to have to pay for it. If you don’t submit medical evidence you’re less likely to be taken seriously.

C) You have to pretty much be unable to do anything at your assessment. You can sit in the waiting room while they make you wait a ridiculous time? Fail. Can walk to the assessment room from the waiting room? Fail. Aren’t “looking ill”, Fail.

D) If you are having a home assessment be prepared for them to not actually show up, and possibly say they did and you weren’t there so you get penalised, not them. Or if you are assessed at a centre, to be told your appointment is cancelled once you get there. Don’t expect any warning. You however, cannot cancel last minute.

E) To then get a letter saying you are not entitled to benefits or the right level of benefits. To be told you are able to work when you can barely leave your bed.

F) To have the energy and strength to fight it. This means going through mandatory reconsideration, which usually ends in the same result but prolongs your stress and leaves you without benefits while they are deciding.

You will also ask to receive a copy of your assessment report, and realise that what they’ve written is not the same as what you both said and did in the assessment itself. You will feel despair, anger, disbelief. Then you have to find that strength again to continue with the process.

G) You will probably get turned down again. There was recently a story that there is a target that 80% of mandatory reconsiderations should uphold the original decision.

To be fair to the Government, this is meant to be a target that the original decision is correct, not that they should just turn people down at mandatory reconsideration to hit a target.

Although, I’ve heard from many people that people within the system are telling them there are targets they are expected to hit. I would be reluctant to believe this target is not putting any pressure on decision makers to uphold decisions at the mandatory reconsideration stage.

Then you need to find the strength to take it to tribunal.

H) At tribunal you may well win. Depending on your area and benefit type, between 60-70% of claimants are successful at tribunal.

I) Depending on how long your award is, you’ll have to reapply again fairly soon, especially if the appeal process has taken a long time

This system is killing people. Literally. The UN has condemned these benefit reforms. People lose their homes because they are unable to pay rent while they wait for the whole appeal process, which has been made even longer by the addition of mandatory considerations, and which rarely make any change to the original decision (although tribunals do).

A woman I heard of was told to go to a homeless hostel while she waited for a decision on her appeal to be made because she couldn’t afford to pay her rent.

Meanwhile the poor, disabled, and sick are being demonised by certain media outlets as scroungers and malingerers.

There are a few fraudsters out there. But they are very few and I ask whether all this stress and poverty of already sick and vulnerable people, the deaths of those who commit suicide because they are turned down for benefits and do not know how they are going to cope, are worth weeding out a couple of people playing the system?

The Tories are making more and more cuts to Welfare, this situation is only getting worse.


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Why the UK election is important to the sick and disabled

Laura Chamberlain

<p>Laura is a writer blogging about living with chronic illness, namely Lyme Disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and Fibromylagia. </p>
<p>She likes food, cats, bad jokes. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is allergic to the last two…</p>

3 Comments

  1. So very important to vote and to be interested in politics, even just a little, even if you’re sceptical (like me!) or if you don’t feel your vote counts. I’ll be there on Thursday, and you’re right in saying how important this one is in terms of welfare and the sick and disabled.x

  2. Thanks for sharing, this was really eye opening and definitely food for thought, just hours before the polls open.

  3. This is so true. The change in government in Australia has taken a lot of disability payments away and making it more difficult for people with CFS. I needed disability payments at the time, it gave me time to get better and lessened the financial stress, thankfully I finally got well enough to start standing on my feet again (ha ha literally) .

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