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19 January 2010 @ 11:06 pm
The DWP  
Today I got a letter from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions - the people that deal with benefits) saying, essentially, that I don't fulfil their criteria for being unwell, and therefore am no longer entitled to my Employment and Support allowance. And as such have no income whatsoever.



So according to their 'point system' I am a 0 out of the 15 points needed to qualify for benefits.

Now, when I read the letter i cried for half an hour. Cried so much my throat hurt. But now, now I'm just angry.
I have all my life, and still do, like many or most people with mental health problems, struggled with coming to terms with there being something wrong. With the fact that I'm not a 'fail' I'm 'ill' and it's not always going to be like this. And an awful lot of that is because although one in four people suffer from mental health problems, they're incredibly misunderstood and under represented.
And you know what, I also struggle every fucking day with feeling like a fucking failure. I had to leave University. I still live at home. I lost fucking relationships to my mental health problems. I spent months and months in a psychiatric institution because of it.
And it's taken me this long to actually feel like it's not all my fault, it's something that's screwed with me that needs help with.
And then the DWP send me a letter saying, what essentially is, 'you've failed a test you didn't even know you were taking, and no, we didn't consult your doctors. But as far as we're concerned there's nothing wrong with you, get back to work and stop sponging.'
So I failed at even being a failure.

Yes, I can appeal. But tomorrow I'm going to have to phone some faceless telephone person who I'm either going to shout it, which they don't deserve, or cry at, which doesn't help. And fuck me if this doesn't seem like a system that discriminates against those who are most vulnerable.

what the fuck do I have to do to be 'ill' ? Do my scars not show it? My hours of psychiatric appointments? My failed relationships, degrees or hospitalizations for overdoses?
I'm bipolar and have a personality disorder. I also have an eating disorder which I'm in ongoing recovery for and is part of my diagnosis. I.. it feels like what do they want me to do to prove I'm not well? What the fuck am I meant to do?

Fuck this. Fuck. This.
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Any Moment Nowmirabehn on January 19th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, gods. :-(

I'm so sorry to hear this, and I share your rage. I helped mirrorshard go through six months of waiting for his money, though he did get it in the end without having to appeal.

I hate that system. I hate it so much. It is so vilely biased against the mentally ill.

What you may find comforting, however, is that lots of people do succeed on appeal. They've made a mistake here, and now you have a chance to prove them wrong. _lady_vanilla_ has some very wise advice.

Thinking of you.
Graceless Lady: Dr - Dr Glasseslandfill_sky on January 19th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC)
Well they recently gave me my backdated payments which I thought was a step up. (btw I started following you on Twitter, I'm sailor_jerry)

It is vile, and it's wonderful Gemma is so used to it and calm and level when I'm in a fuzz. I'm so grateful for her experience and patience.

It's just - sometimes it feels like I should shout at them 'WOULD IT BE EASIER IF I HAD A PHYSICAL DISABILITY?!'

*hugs*
Any Moment Now: from Sannamirabehn on January 19th, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
*hugs you*

sometimes it feels like I should shout at them 'WOULD IT BE EASIER IF I HAD A PHYSICAL DISABILITY?!'

Argh, yes. :-( The prejudice against the mentally ill is as rife in the DWP as anywhere, if not more so. It's a complete disgrace.

Mind you, I have a mental disability and an invisible disability, and my benefit was cut off a few years ago after they decided to ignore all of the physical component in my case (and decided the mental component wasn't bad enough). And then they lost my P45, but that's another story.

Graceless Lady: Misc - Rick Dagelsslandfill_sky on January 20th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
Oh sweetheart, that's awful.

I've had to spend the evening being reassured by Gemma and family that this is an incomplete analysis which can be altered.
But like I say it feels like they're telling mentally ill people 'we can't see your problem so it doesn't count' and my LJ friends have helped more than I can say.
Any Moment Nowmirabehn on January 20th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
Also: I know that when I was helping Sam with his applications, I came across some sites that give advice and support, including for those on appeal.

I don't have the energy tonight, but I'll try to look back at what I found and give you the links before I head north on Thursday.

If I look like forgetting, do please remind me: I would like to be able to help, I'm just rather scatty right now.
Graceless Lady: Fry - Thumbs Up!Stephenlandfill_sky on January 20th, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
Sweetheart that would do me the world of good, and please go for it whenever you're ok to do so.
Any Moment Nowmirabehn on January 20th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC)
*hugs*

Haven't been able to find everything I did last time. But here's a couple of things that may be useful:

A relevant thread on the BBC Ouch forums, some official guidelines on the appeals service.

I recommend wandering about the Ouch forums generally, and possibly posting there. It seems to be quite a supportive place.

This link contains all the criteria on the wretched assessments. Might help to check exactly what boxes they should have ticked and shouldn't, so you can target the medical evidence your doctors can give you.

The CAB will probably be able to help you more.

*more hugs* Rooting for you.