As is the way often, everything always happens at the same time, this morning proved that perfectly. The lady from the DWP (department of work and pensions) arrived just after 11 am, a man from the electricity board arrived to read the meter, at about 11:45, and the plumber arrived at midday, the DWP lady, didn’t leave until 12:45. She was really a nice lady, not the monster that we had expected, over officious and so straight laced that sour would have been a compliment. We were both pleasantly surprised and what was supposed to be a straightforward interview, with Adam at my side, turned into a broken and stilted muddle, with me in the middle, just desperate to get it all over and done with. Adam, though, was doing his normal, chatting about nothing and making the whole thing take much longer than needed. To be honest, the lady who’s name I have totally forgotten, was happy to go along with their chats about nothing, while I sat there quietly stressing more and more. I know, that it should have put me at ease, but it didn’t. The proof, I was throughout slowly losing my voice even before she arrived and the longer she was here the worse it got.
When she first arrived, she told us a little about herself, that she was, in fact, a qualified nurse, not just someone who had done a ten-minute course, as all the online impressions I had read, implied. Yes, there had been a course, but it was mainly so that she knew exactly the information that the DWP required. Personally, she worked from home. The form she would complete once she returned there, would be sent to their head office, for the final evaluation. She went through the exact same questions that we answered on the form. As we answered each one, she added notes to the papers she had brought with her. Not once did she say anything other than that it matched with what we had already written down. She did add in an occasional extra question here and there, which allowed her to give a fuller picture, of my situation, and throughout it, she continued to try and put me at ease about the whole process.
The first break we had, was when Adam had to answer the door, she seemed to become aware that I had become more on edge when he left the room. She was right, although, I think she thought it was because we had been left alone, it wasn’t, it was simply because this huge man had appeared in the hallway. I didn’t explain it to her, but the guy unsettled me somewhat. I have to admit, that I was really glad, that it was Adam who answered the doorbell, and not me. He wasn’t here long and Adam was quickly back with us. To be honest, the rest of it all seemed to be chat, so when the plumber arrived, I was much more at ease. I had read online how people had been made to prove that they couldn’t walk, and other tests just as painful and mortifying for people in our position, there was none of that, it was simply all talking. Honestly, there wasn’t a single thing about the whole interview, that was difficult in any way. She herself said, that when my forms arrived at her home, she was left wondering why I was on her list to see at all? She felt my claim should have gone straight through, but it wasn’t up to her to question it, just to come out and do her job.
We sat for a while chatting while Adam spoke to the plumber. I asked her how often I was going to be expected to go through this whole process. She looked a little surprised and then said, I shouldn’t be saying this but….. “When I complete the process, not only will I be recommended the full high rate payment, but there is a box which I have to fill in, as to when a repeat visit should be made. I intend to say never”. I was shocked, and when Adam returned I told him, he too was shocked, as we were both firmly under the impression, that it would be an annual, or at least, biannual event. She confirmed what she said, it is up to the individual “Disability Analyst”, as that is their official title, to make that decision. She also added that if, and she stress the if, there are any problems, it won’t be down to anything that she will have written. If in the worst case scenario, they refuse me, she told us to appeal as, as far as she can see, I deserve the full rate payments, but we may have to wait for anything from six to eight weeks, before we receive a letter, confirming their decision.
So, that’s it. Just a wait for a letter and hopefully, the whole thing will be over and done with for good. If there is one thing I have learnt from this whole thing, it’s that you shouldn’t listen to the words of those who have had problems with the system. Even if it goes wrong and we have to fight for our money, to this point, there has been nothing, that I can honestly see, that all the worry and stress we have gone through, was worth it. I fully understand how those who genuinely need help, but have been refused it, must feel. If mine were to be turned down, I quite honestly don’t know how we would survive, even for the length of the appeal. But those of us who have been through the system and had a positive experience, at any point, really should shout louder. The forms, although extensive and often failed in the space required for a full answer, was in plain English and not something to be feared. Apparently we did the exactly right thing, we gave detailed answers on exactly what they asked, no more, no less. If you take your lead from the form, as that is the only information the want, it is easy enough. Make sure you put down the worst case scenario, not just how it is today, but how it is when the world stops and everything goes wrong. Granted, I needed Adam to read it to me, and then to write my words for me, but we can all find that sort of help, even if it has to come from the citizens advice, the help is there and it’s free. For many, I can see travelling somewhere for an appointment, might cause problems, but if you can go out socially, or to a hospital, you can go for an appointment. I simply put on my form the fact I was housebound, and without argument, I was sent an appointment at home. The lady who came here, was just that, a lady, and not a bureaucratic monster.
Yes, the whole system makes you feel as though you have to prove you are ill enough, but, once done, it’s done. If your condition is something that has a possibility of improvement, then a future visit may be required, but that is fair enough. Why should anyone have a payment for their entire lifetime, if they have recovered from whatever once made them eligible? Bear in mind, if your condition gets worse, you can request a new assessment to have your payments increases, if you’re on the lower banding. So please spread the word, PIP isn’t the end of life as we know it, it’s just a change in the system, and once done, well depending on your condition, it could be done and dusted forever.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 26/04/2014 – What is an hour
Adam spent all of yesterday with his Mother, although it was the day after he always spends one day with her around his birthday, so I had a quiet day spent just doing what I do online and yes finishing off the remains of the carryout. When will I learn? I am now in day two of not feeling well thanks to my stomachs dislike of normal food, I actually woke in the middle of the night because it was so painful, I rarely wake due to pain, so it must have been bad. I was in bed and well asleep when he made it home, he was still on the bus heading back when I spoke to him to say good night and of course snoring on the settee when I got up, so nothing…….