Monday, July 05, 2010

Disability Living Allowance: A Reader Writes...

I received this email yesterday (some identifying details have been changed) from a regular reader, who expresses some genuine concerns about the future of the Disability Living Allowance and the new medical examinations which all claimants will have to undergo.

Apologies for emailing you out of the blue. I’m a regular reader of your blog and find it entertaining and incisive, even if I don’t always agree with what you say. As it happens, I have no strong party political allegiances, though find myself broadly left of centre most of the time.

I was struck by your post on cost-saving at the DWP, particularly because I am a disabled person in receipt of Disability Living Allowance. In common with several disabled friends, I have grave concerns about Mr Osborne’s plans to medically re-assess all claimants of DLA. I don’t feel any of us are putting the reasons for our concerns across very well at the moment.

My own situation is this: I’m in my thirties and have cerebral palsy. Unlike several others with the same impairment, I can walk and I can talk, though I have severe problems with pain and stamina levels. According to current criteria, I qualify pretty squarely for IB / ESA but I do not claim it. Instead, I work. I work in the media, mostly on a freelance basis. This allows me to work hard when I am able to do so, and rest when I am not. My income fluctuates accordingly, but I have always been able to support myself. In good years, I’ve been a higher rate tax payer, though I am not always this lucky.

I receive DLA at higher rate for the mobility component – confirming I am ‘virtually unable’ to walk, and lower rate for care, which reflects the fact I find preparing meals for myself problematic. I do not tick the DWP boxes in a straightforward way, but I am very much a ‘genuine claimant’.

Currently the two components of my DLA combined cost the taxpayer about £270 a month. This I spend on paying for a cleaner to clean my flat - I do not have the physical capacity to do my own housework – and on taxis, which enable me to get places without expending extra energy on struggling with public transport. I also buy takeaways and ready meals when I am too exhausted to cook, and an absurd number of shoes. (My freestyle walking style destroys shoes and I go through about a pair a month.)

I am telling you this because I do not think disabled people have been open enough about how much DLA they receive or what they spend it on. I realise £270 a month is a lot of money, and I do not expect to be able to draw from the state in this manner without the state wishing to check in with me from time to time.

What I would say is that, in my case, the money I receive in DLA enables me to work. Without it, I would live in squalor, would be exhausted and would eat unhealthily. I certainly would not be able to get up quite so easily every morning and hold down a job.

The only other benefit I receive is a small Access to Work grant which makes it easier for me to do my job. AtW is protected in the coalition agreement because they recognise its importance in enabling disabled people to work.

For me, the cost of DLA and AtW combined is much less than the average amount of income tax I pay each year. George Osborne currently profits from paying me DLA. Other than this, I make few demands on the state. I take medication regularly but – because I am in work – I pay prescription charges. The drug I take is a cheap one so the NHS profits as a result. I am glad. I see a consultant occasionally to keep as well as possible, but am generally very healthy and almost never see my GP. My own DLA expenditure supports a local cleaning firm and several local taxi drivers, something of which I am sure Mr Osborne would heartily approve.

As I mentioned, I am concerned about the push towards medical assessments for DLA. One thing that has not been made entirely clear in the commentary about welfare reform is that everyone who is in receipt of DLA has been medically assessed at one point or another. There is no longer a compulsory medical examination but claimants must provide a great deal of medical evidence before their claim is accepted. Personally, I now have an indefinite award – recognising that I will never become less disabled than I am at the moment, and will probably only decline in future.

However, I have only had an indefinite award for 10 years or so. Before that, I was called for medicals regularly. Every time I have had a medical for DLA (or its predecessor) I have been thrown off the benefit and forced to appeal to get it back again. Luckily I am articulate enough and well enough to appeal, but it is a struggle. The reason I tend to get declined benefit in an initial medical is because they are extremely basic and my impairment affects me in very complex ways. The medic – who will never have met me before and will have no specialty in the complexities of neurological disability – can see that I can walk and I can talk and pick a paper clip off a desk (I remember this part of the assessments well). That is pretty much all anyone can tell in a twenty minute medical, so I end up with my benefit declined, even though I have reports from senior medical professionals who know me well, and who state that appearances are deceptive and I am actually pretty seriously disabled.

This has happened every single time I have undergone a DWP medical, and my experience is reflected by that of several others who have complex impairments. Recently my health has declined and I have considered asking for a reassessment of my DLA, in the hope that I might now be entitled to middle rate care. I am not certain I will qualify and am so fearful that, if I ask, I will be re-assessed and kicked off the benefit as a result, that I have decided not to make the request.

You will know that medical assessments are not cheap for the taxpayer, and neither are appeals when benefits are wrongly declined. Were I to find my DLA declined after my medical assessment in 2013, my energy is so limited I would expect to have to give up work while I appealed. Meanwhile, if I was no longer deemed disabled enough to receive DLA, it is possible I would also lose my Access to Work grant, making it almost impossible for me to work during the appeal process, whether I had enough energy or do so or not. Mr Osborne would find me significantly less profitable during this time.

I am not arrogant enough to believe I should receive DLA without the state taking an interest in my health. If they wished to check in regularly with my own consultant – an NHS employee, so surely someone whose judgement they trust – I would find it slightly tedious, but entirely justifiable. Putting me in front of a non-specialist medical professional to whom I am a complete stranger, will likely have never come across anyone with my type of CP, and who will see me pick up a paper clip and conclude that I am extremely physically able is the stuff of nightmares. I don’t think my fears are unjustified – it’s happened to me before.

Forgive my arrogance, but I do believe I am this government’s ideal disabled person: I draw a little from the state and give back large amounts of tax in return. I could give up work tomorrow and claim even more from the state, but instead I have found a way of making working life work for me, which is what this government wants for as many disabled people as possible. It is therefore a little confusing that it is people in my position who stand to lose out from Mr Osborne’s announcement.

Forgive this lengthy email but I do not feel anyone has picked up on the fact that Mr Osborne’s DLA announcement will put many working disabled people with complex impairments in this nightmarish position. I enjoy your analysis and thought you might like to know.

Thanks and best wishes,


Indeed, I did want to know, and I am going to pass on the concerns to the Treasury and DWP. I think some genuine concerns are raised here, which need to be addressed before the modus operandi for the medical examinations is finalised.

53 comments:

Shaun said...

It was a joy to read that letter as I could easily have written it myself. I am in my 30s, have Multiple Sclerosis, get Higher Rate Mobility of the DLA and work as a freelance web developer, claiming NO other benefits.

DLA allows me to move around; I frequently need the toilet and as you know, bars are reluctant to let you nip in for a pee without buying *something* which is a bit costlier than the proverbial penny. I need cabs and so on to replace where I'd have walked and even though I work from home, I still have to attend on-site client meetings and so forth.

I support moving from a 40 page form as I have seen too many other people with MS in a worse state than me receive nothing because they, unlike me, didn't have a law degree and some familiarity with obtuse forms. However, as with your letter writer, I would much rather see the closer involvement of NHS consultants in granting the award as they are, by definition, medical experts in the disability being claimed.

My nightmare is having a complex, poorly understood condition like MS (which can, additionally be variable in a single patient) assessed by a spotty pen-pusher reading from a script and ticking boxes. They won't get it and it will involve a lot of appeals and further, needless, expense.

Unsworth said...

Well, good enough - and your 'regular reader' is to be commended.

It seems to me that the real (and repeated) fault with the system as it stands is that your reader's previous assessments and history are not sufficiently taken into account when the DWP assessor makes his/her judgement. That clearly is wrong.

It seems also - although I don't have enough knowledge - that the whole (repeated) process is one involving decision and instant withdrawal of funds, followed by a lengthy period of appeal and reinstatement. That in itself places recipients in jeopardy - in that they do not know whether or when any appeal may stand or fall.

Surely it's not beyond the wit of DWP to devise a more sympathetic - and efficient - system? Why is manpower being squandered like this? Time and again we're seeing government departments operating in an entirely proscribed manner. Is it not time for us to devolve real authority and responsibility?

Surely your reader could be just as well served by making an annual declaration, supported by a signed statement from his/her GP? If DWP is actually concerned about fraud then the/an answer is to institute random review and investigation, rather than carrying out these routine inadequate interviews and then wasting even more time on the appeals process.

strapworld said...

Unsworth makes an excellent suggestion, in his last paragraph.

I remember, some years ago, following an accident at work having to be 'assessed' by two doctors whom I had never met before, or since. They disagreed with my own GP, the specialist at the hospital and a doctor I asked for a third opinion, following the assessment.

I am sure that the role of any 'assessment' in the future will be to cut back on this allowance for as many as possible.

Surely, as Unsworth suggests, a sworn statement each year signed by the claimant and by their own GP or specialist should suffice. It would also save the country thousands from using other doctors for any assessment.

Whilst there may well be those trying to fool people a random review and investigation, as Unsworth reasonably suggests is a far better approach.

Paul Dean said...

Deciding upon what standard of living is appropriate for someone claiming benefits is problematic. Who should decide it?

Without wanting to get personal with your correspondent (he has my utmost respect), if £270 pounds per month is much less than his income tax, he's on at least £20k for working part time. And he needs money from the state to pay for takeaways? (by the way takeaways are less healthy and much more expensive than raw vegetables and fruit, which take no preparation). Now I'm glad I'm not the one to decide what standard of living is a basic human right and so should be paid for by the state, but I know that I would feel uncomfortable in that situation; it would feel to me like I was sponging. Again I make no judgments here, only an expression of how I would feel. It smacks of entitlement.

And to Shaun - I've used the toilet of a pub without buying anything a great many times and never had a problem. People do have different standards. Who is to say which is the right one?

Mary said...

Another working disabled person chiming in - like your correspondent, after battling through the appeals process I get high-rate mobility, low-rate care, and some help from Access to Work. I claim no other benefits.

Unlike the person who wrote the email, I've never yet managed to earn so much that I hit the higher-rate tax bracket. But then nor do most non-disabled workers in their twenties. I admit that, right now, I am probably a net beneficiary of the welfare system.

However, DLA enables me to work, working means I'm much less of a drain on the state than I otherwise would be. It also means I have an opportunity to progress my career so that one day, I may reach a point where I am a net contributor.

PS @Unsworth - you suggest "If DWP is actually concerned about fraud then the/an answer is to institute random review and investigation." They already do this. At any point a claimant may be reassessed (the "Right Payments" scheme), and at any point a claimant may be placed under covert surveillance. As can be seen on the DWP's own statistics (PDF) (page 10, table 2.1) that reveals a fraud rate of 0.5%, a "customer error" rate of 0.6%, and an "official error" rate of 0.8%. Yes, DLA fraud exists, but hardly to the rampant extent one might believe.

The Grim Reaper said...

Disability Living Allowance is there to acknowledge the fact that life is more expensive for people with disabilities. Case in point -
my girlfriend. She has cerebral palsy too. Like the poster, she can walk and talk, but does have somewhat low thresholds when it comes to pain. Her house has had to be adapted to make sure she can get round it safely. The bathroom has been adapted for her, the doors have all been changed for larger ones to fit an electric wheelchair through safely, all sorts of work has had to be done.

She can drive, but her car had to be adapted at a cost of £600. Next, no insurers will touch her due to the disability - there must be a law against this somewhere - so she has to hire the car from a company at an extra cost. She can't always drive due to pain, which means I have to take her to and from work. When this happens, it's an 80-mile to drive for me to take her to work, come home, go back to collect her and take her home. That adds onto fuel prices.

I could go on about this, but I'll stop there for now. Frankly, I find the way the Tories and LibDems are targeting those claiming DLA not only utterly offensive, but incredibly immoral. Hang your heads in shame, the lot of you.

Lady Finchley said...

And the truth is that ATOS which does the medical assessments are not fit for purpose. It really is scary for genuine claimants.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Thank you Iain for raising these concerns about potential changes to DLA. Prior to the budget I wrote an overview of where DLA fits amongst the health and social care systems, and the economic impact removing it would have on the NHS and local authorities.
A Stitch In Time Can Sometimes Cost You Nine http://bit.ly/c1BYmg
BendyGirl

Charlotte Corday said...

I agree. I have a son with a form of CP and I have been a governor of a special needs school. Obviously there is a need to weed out the fraudsters claiming DLA.

However, the government should recognise that there are people with fluctuating conditions, such as MS. People may be capable of walking a certain distance one day but not the next.

Also, a lot of disabled people have low stamina levels.

I've experienced ATOS consultants doing an assessment on my son for ESA and it really was box ticking, which didn't look at the complex overall picture.

By all means get at the fraudsters but please don't hit vulnerable people who don't meet some arbitrary criteria dreamt up by a civil servant who, in all likelihood has never had to cope with the realities of living with a disability.

Stephen Wigmore said...

I am a longtime reader. I, myself, am able bodied, but my girlfriend is disabled by ME, and her father is disabled due to suffering severe manic depression. I have held worries about the coalition's plans for a while.

It is obviously important to try and encourage people on IB into work, and, as the writer of your letter says, to check that those in receipt of significant public funds need them.

However, it is vitally important that this is done in the correct way, both in terms of IB and DLA. The basic problem is stability. As your reader says a system that throws people off their benefit, almost by default, due to poor initial assessment, and then forces them to reapply can be deeply damaging, disrupting lives and damaging people's ability to financially support themselves and contribute to society, effectively causing a net cost to the taxpayer.

This is especially true with mental health problems. As I said, my girlfriend's father suffers from manic depression. He was repeatedly assessed as disabled or not disabled as his condition fluctuated. Knowing that his condition can fluctuate, he was too afraid to get a short term job, for fear that his condition would worsen, he would lose it, but he would have no means of supporting himself as he had no benefits either. Paradoxically, it was only when he was certified as long term incapacitated, and the need for frequent review was removed, that he was secure enough to secure and hold down a job for a considerable period of time, contributing to society (in this way) for the first time in a while.

A review of IB and DLA claimants is a very good idea, as long as it is done properly, with due attention to contextual medical information, (which should be easily available in this modern age) instead of the simplistic tests your reader describes. The other factor is being aware that although there will be a small category of people who should not be on IB and can be simply returned to JSA and the normal system for seeking to get people into work, there will be a far larger category of people who could be able to work with MORE support and assistance than they now receive, including securing people's benefits for 6 months or so so they have the security to seek and take work they may or may not not be well enough to continue in (as I believe was proposed by Ian Duncan Smith) Such far sighted measures would cost some money initially but over the medium and longterm (not a ridiculously long termthough, I reckon you're looking at a year or two at the most) would save considerable sums by supporting more people into paying and socially useful work, rather than leaving them stuck unemployed on benefits.

For me this will be one of those real tests of the coalition. Will they take the hard road of trying to properly assess and support people into work, getting them off benefits, even if it requires some small initial outlay. Or, will they do as Labour accuses, and simply see this as an excuse to slash the benefit bill by taking away as many people's benefits as they can possibly justify, without the concurrent measures to support them into useful work.

Sean Haffey said...

I doubt anyone - really anyone - wants people like your correspondent to be affected. The change in rules/law is intended to affect only those who have exploited the system to claim benefits that by any reasonable measure they are not entitled to.

One thing this heartfelt letter does illustrate is the awful power of an unthinking bureaucracy. I am a "small government" conservative: often this requires "good sense" which is seldom a part of red tape.

Sic Semper Tyrannis said...

I have no comment about living with the disabilities described, they are totally outside my personal experience.

I would only suggest that, if the original emailer and some of the above commenters were taxed less, then they would have the wherewithal to provide for themselves out of income. The whole model of money flows from income->tax collection->public sector->assessment->benefit payment->service paid for produces waste at every interaction. Wouldn't it be so much better for everyone concerned (recipients and taxpayers) if the flow went income->service?

I realise that some (like the author of the email) have 'good' periods when they can work and 'bad' periods when they can't, so income will vary accordingly. And therefore some level of benefits would have to be available to smooth out the lean periods.

But when the income is being earned, the above suggestion could be implemented by simply raising tax thresholds.

Paul Dean said...

TGR: "Disability Living Allowance is there to acknowledge the fact that life is more expensive for people with disabilities."

If someone has higher living costs (through no fault of their own) then the state should reimburse them? Gosh. Surely the first solution should be work, if one is able, then family, then friends, and only then the state.

But the state intervenes and effectively prevents any but the most scrupulous families/friends from helping each other. This is having an affect on our society that is bigger than the problem of the deficit and so the issue is not primarily about spending too much money; it's about what attitudes the state is encouraging. Encouraging family disassociation as well as general a sense of entitlement will only bring ruin to this country.

Of course we need a safety net for those who cannot cope financially, when they are disabled or sick or cannot find work and their family and friends cannot help them. The safety net needs to catch people just before they hit the ground, so it's clear their family, friends or church will not help them. Again - not primarily to save money, but to strengthen family, friends and church.

Unsworth said...

@ Mary

Point taken. I was slightly tongue in cheek. The fact is - as you cogently indicate - there's very little real fraud, but there's a vast amount of bureacracy.

Wordsmith_for_Hire said...

I too could have written your reader's letter. I receive around £270 a month in DLA too (although not Access to Work benefit). I work as a freelance journalist and have uncontrolled epilepsy. I am not allowed to drive because of my seizures so my DLA goes towards a number of things - taxis galore for the times I need to be somewhere easier and faster than I could manage on public transport, plus I need help preparing food as I have on a number of occasions almost burned the house down because I had a fit while cooking. My DLA went towards the cost of buying a decent microwave, for example, for the days I rely on ready meals. Occasionally I hire a cleaner because getting vomit out of a carpet after having a fit needs specialist help.

Because I'm mostly able to work (and at my own pace, largely), I'm able to generate a lot of cash for Osborne's state pot. I pay taxes and national insurance at a far higher level than I withdraw as DLA. I do qualify for free prescriptions because I'm on permanent medication, which reduces but doesn't eliminate my seizures. But I rarely see my GP for anything and I only see my neurological consultant once a year for a check-up. Overall, the state does pretty well out of me - like your reader, I'm an ideal disabled person in that respect.

I too worry about having to go for a medical. I can walk, I can talk, I don't have a lot of pain except after a fit, and I can certainly pick up a paper clip without any hassle. But my epilepsy is not going to go away. I've already noticed a deterioration over the last couple of years. I'm in my forties - as I age, my epilepsy will almost certainly worsen. Indeed the number of elderly people with epilepsy is growing and they require complex care for the most part.

Should I lose my DLA now, because I doubt I'd pass the text, I'd probably not being able to work for myself. And finding a suitable staff job at my age looks increasingly unlikely. It's more likely I'd have to stop work, and stop paying taxes. Allow me my DLA and there's a strong chance I could be a net contributor to the state coffers for another 15-20 years.

Is that really what Osborne wants? To force me out of work and into drawing other benefits, being totally dependent on the state? I'd cost this country far more in that scenario whereas in my current situation I remain a useful and tax-paying member of society.

Never mind that the disabled are among society's most vulnerable people, taking away the very benefit that allows us to live productive and meaningful lives as fully as possible is cutting off the dole's nose to spite its face.

jaybs said...

As someone who has always rated IDS and supported him I feel on DLA he is completely out of touch and ministers do not understand at all the unnecessary stress they are putting on genuine claimants.

We are all in this together, then why not Hit the premiership footballers who are paid complete gross weekly salaries, no wonder they can afford first class flight tickets to Barbados of £5,995 each for him, the wife, her brothers and her friends!

More young people who come the excellent football academies would get chances of premiership football but no we open our gates for our premiership teams to be other nationalities, no this is one sector they will not touch! Disgraceful.

Regular said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your comments which - indeed - I am not going to take personally. I did think it would help if I clarified a few things for you.

You’re correct that I can earn around £20K a year. Sometimes I earn as little as £6K, very occasionally as much as £40K, and you are right that there is a discussion to be had about whether the state really needs to give me £270 a month.

For what it’s worth, I would not claim DLA if I did not need to, so sleep quite soundly knowing I do. I would rather not. I also believe I would not be in a position to be a medium / higher rate taxpayer were it not for the fact that I receive DLA in the first place. That is the problem.

On the veggies vs takeaway issue. I do appreciate your concern for my health (genuinely). I’d stress that as an experienced takeaway / ready meal buyer, I have become adept at picking out healthier options and am not down MacDonalds every day (or indeed ever). The way I maximise my mobility and minimise the negative effects of my impairment is by keeping healthy, active and managing my weight so I am particularly fastidious in this regard.
I would love to eat more raw veggies. However for me, this simple meal requiring ‘no preparation’ would involve travelling to a shop to buy the veggies, walking around that shop, getting them home, probably in a taxi as I am not good with carrying shopping, standing at a sink to wash them, and using a sharp knife to chop them. You probably want to stay out of my way when I am wielding a sharp knife. (Seriously, I have had real accidents using knives to chop things, hence the lower rate care award.)

That may sound reasonably straightforward to you, but to me it uses approximately a day’s worth of energy, probably more. A day or so which I would not then spend working. You see how this goes.

I do recognise that in the years that I earn £40K, you may wonder why the state offers me £270 a month. As I say, I would not be anywhere close to earning £40K if my DLA was not in place – in fact, I would be claiming ESA..

Personally – and I speak only for myself - I would be quite happy to discuss the possibility of my DLA being taxed when I am a higher rate tax payer. You’ll appreciate my impairment fluctuates to an extent that means I can’t tell in advance how much I am going to earn annually. In the good years, I could - at a squeeze - take the hit of my DLA being taxed and would be happy-ish to do so. At least, I would view it as the lesser of several evils.

As far as I know, that’s not on the table as a possibility but means testing is. Means testing is problematic for me because my income fluctuates so extraordinarily. Tax is easier. I do not know if I am unusual in this regard or if other claimants would agree with me. You would have to talk to a wider range of disabled people to know the answer. I stress would not be delighted to be taxed on my DLA because when I do earn well, I must save to cushion myself in the significantly leaner times, so even when I earn £40K do not have the disposable income you might imagine.

My financial and physical lives are very minutely balanced. That’s why DLA is so vital to me.

Charlotte Corday said...

Paul Dean says that those with disabilities should seek help from their families before turning to the state. Doesn't he realise that bringing up a child with disabilities puts enormous mental, physical and financial strains on parents?

Libertarian said...

The issue here seems to me to be not the various merits of who gets what and who is "entitled" to what but the sheer failure of all things statist - Bureaucracy.

These types of things should be handled in two ways.

1. Anyone registered and verified with a disability but who has paid work should get special tax codes to reduce how much they pay in....rather than take their money waste some of it and give the rest back.

2. the responsibility for administering these things should be devolved as locally as possible and to people who have the greatest chance of "knowing" the person affected.


Faceless state bureaucracy is never an effective solution to anything



To those people who try to politicise this, please grow up and look at the real world. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE from any political spectrum begrudges help to people who genuinely deserve it. What annoys people are waste and inefficiency and FRAUD.

Those two things should also be paramount in the minds of people who care about supporting people in society with needs.

OneVoice said...

I speak as the parent of two autistic sons both in receipt of DLA at the moment. The elder of my two sons has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome which is, in my opinion, wrongly considered to be the highest functioning form of autism. There is nothing high functioning about my eldest's autism who also has a degenerative visual impairment. He never leaves the house without either myself, my husband of his elder brother. My son requires 24/7 care. He seldom sleeps which means that we seldom sleep and have to take it in turn to be awake with my son.

The last time my son's DLA was up for renewal one of the questions on the form was when was the last time that my son had been seen my his specialist or consultant. This question is asked so that the severity of the claimants condition can be verified. My son had at that point, and still has to date, seen no one who has any specialism at all in Autistic Spectrum Conditions since just before his 16th Birthday, when he was signed off from CAMHS. We were told my CAMHS that we 'managed our son very well' and that there was no specialism at all within adult mental health wrapped around autism and that it was entirely the wrong place for him to be referred to. My son is now 23 years old and nothing has changed.

My sons GP is wonderful. He has built up his own knowledge of autism and how it impacts on every single second of my sons life. There are very few GPs like my sons. Our GP spent over an hour on the telephone trying to find someone in the North East of England who was willing to see my son to carry out an assessment of his condition and needs so that we were able to add the name of a specialist to his DLA form. No one would see my son because he has an IQ over 70 and is therefore not considered to be learning disabled.

There are many many adults who have Aspergers Syndrome or High Functioning Autism who are in the same position as my son. If these adults are assessed by DWP staff who have no understanding of their condition and how it affects them, and they are then put into a position where they have to appeal the decision, who will they will able to see who has the necessary level of specialism in their condition to give an accurate account of how the disability is affecting that person?

I was a member of the External Reference Group who helped to inform and support the DOH while they wrote the Adults Autism Strategy. My time on the group only proved to confirm my belief that my son is by no means an isolated case. Where are these changes going to leave some of the most vulnerable adults in the UK, remembering that even the most verbal have impairments in communication and socialisation. My son will simply say to anyone who he does not know whatever he thinks will make them stop asking him questions. His IQ is around the 154 mark but his ability to function without round the clock support is around the zero mark.

We have never had any support or services for either of our two sons simply because they both have an IQ over 70 and so have never ticked any of the right boxes for provision. Now we have to think about both of our sons having to be subjected to an assessment by people who will probably not understand the complexities of their condition and with the knowledge that there is also no one to call on should the decision to continue their DLA go against them.

jaybs said...

It is sad to read some of the comments, family should pay first, what about when you have no family. A Mail reader on the net suggested those sick withdrawal of medication, for natural death.

I have fought for my party to get back into power, after the way we as a country and people have suffered since 1997, carry on like this and how some feel here and we will not even complete this term in office and will never return to power again!We are falling into the hands of those accuse of us of being the party purely for the rich, how sad!

OneVoice said...

I speak as the parent of two autistic sons both in receipt of DLA at the moment. The elder of my two sons has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome which is, in my opinion, wrongly considered to be the highest functioning form of autism. There is nothing high functioning about my eldest's autism who also has a degenerative visual impairment. He never leaves the house without either myself, my husband of his elder brother. My son requires 24/7 care. He seldom sleeps which means that we seldom sleep and have to take it in turn to be awake with my son.

The last time my son's DLA was up for renewal one of the questions on the form was when was the last time that my son had been seen my his specialist or consultant. This question is asked so that the severity of the claimants condition can be verified. My son had at that point, and still has to date, seen no one who has any specialism at all in Autistic Spectrum Conditions since just before his 16th Birthday, when he was signed off from CAMHS. We were told my CAMHS that we 'managed our son very well' and that there was no specialism at all within adult mental health wrapped around autism and that it was entirely the wrong place for him to be referred to. My son is now 23 years old and nothing has changed.

My sons GP is wonderful. He has built up his own knowledge of autism and how it impacts on every single second of my sons life. There are very few GPs like my sons. Our GP spent over an hour on the telephone trying to find someone in the North East of England who was willing to see my son to carry out an assessment of his condition and needs so that we were able to add the name of a specialist to his DLA form. No one would see my son because he has an IQ over 70 and is therefore not considered to be learning disabled.

There are many many adults who have Aspergers Syndrome or High Functioning Autism who are in the same position as my son. If these adults are assessed by DWP staff who have no understanding of their condition and how it affects them, and they are then put into a position where they have to appeal the decision, who will they will able to see who has the necessary level of specialism in their condition to give an accurate account of how the disability is affecting that person?

I was a member of the External Reference Group who helped to inform and support the DOH while they wrote the Adults Autism Strategy. My time on the group only proved to confirm my belief that my son is by no means an isolated case. Where are these changes going to leave some of the most vulnerable adults in the UK, remembering that even the most verbal have impairments in communication and socialisation. My son will simply say to anyone who he does not know whatever he thinks will make them stop asking him questions. His IQ is around the 154 mark but his ability to function without round the clock support is around the zero mark.

We have never had any support or services for either of our two sons simply because they both have an IQ over 70 and so have never ticked any of the right boxes for provision. Now we have to think about both of our sons having to be subjected to an assessment by people who will probably not understand the complexities of their condition and with the knowledge that there is also no one to call on should the decision to continue their DLA go against them.

Wordsmith_for_Hire said...

To Paul Dean - some of us do not have families who can support us. Some of us do not have any family at all. Then what? Rely on my friends? They have no financial obligation to me and indeed, I look at my friends and see them struggling themselves to pay mortgages, bills and raise their own families. My friends are generous in giving me lifts at times or dropping by after I've had a fit to offer any assistance. I don't think I can really expect more from them.

To Libertarian - what do you mean by "rather than take their money waste some of it and give the rest back"? Surely you're not suggesting those of us in receipt of DLA waste it on needless fripperies? I don't know anyone on DLA who fritters it - we all use it to pay for things that are vital basic needs and to be able to participate in society more equally.

Dave said...

I'm off work with leukaemia at the moment. I have sick notes from my specialist that keep my insurance company happy. At least my mortgage is getting paid for a few more months. I had to fill in a book sized form when my SSP ran out. Just filling in the form freaked me out. They decided that I could have a benefit so all's well for the moment.
I am concerned for the future because at some stage a petty burocrat at the DWP will decide he/she knows more about my medical condition than the specialists who are treating me and send me for an assesment.
Yes I can stand and walk. I even have my own hair. I can pick things up. BUT I am not fit for work. There's the slight problem of a broken immune system and the need to rest up for a day or two after extended exercise.
Another correspondent pointed out that ATOS are not fit for purpose.

What they do is a form of robbery of the weak and vulnerable. They divert the money meant for them into their own coffers. That's theft ins't it?

All the stats show that this is a non problem. Every claimant is seen by doctors regularly. They can easily weed out the malingerers and no doubt do so.

This is no more than gesture politics coupled with a nice little earner for the favoured few.

Paul Dean said...

@Regular, thanks for your response and for not taking my comment personally!

@Charlotte, "Doesn't he realise that bringing up a child with disabilities puts enormous mental, physical and financial strains on parents?" I don't see your point - that's what should happen. Having a child with disabilities is one of the contexts where a working family usually does sacrifice financially. People often help their parents too, but unhappily a growing number give that responsibility up to the state. Other situations have been all but lost - if my brother needed financial help (because he was disabled), why would I bother if the state will pick up the tab? So I am being taught to not expect to have to care for my brother.

I'm proposing that DLA should be family-means tested. Then there should be something to encourage people with disabilities who work (e.g. they pay less tax). I know some people will hide their family from the means-testing process, but that would be their choice to commit that fraud.

English Pensioner said...

I have great sympathy for the genuinely disabled and believe, in fact, that they should be paid somewhat more.
What I cannot believe is that the numbers of genuinely disabled has rocketed the way it has over the past twenty or so years. If the figures are in fact correct, and all these people are genuinely disabled, how has it happened? Working conditions now are probably far safer than they have ever been, many crippling illnesses have largely been eradicated, yet in spite of this, we have more disabled than ever.
I don't think the organisations representing the disabled actually do a lot of good for the genuinely disabled with their blanket statements about cuts, and should be co-operating with the authorities to ensure that the real disabled get the available money not the scroungers.

Julie G. said...

A sorry in advance, this is a bit rambling.
My husband is getting really worried about the DLA reforms coming in. He belives as do most disabled people that it is an easy way to appease the voters who believe that most people claiming they are sick or disabled are fraudulent.
My husband would love to work, but because he has severe rhumatoid arthritis he cannot walk far, on a good day, from the disabled bay to the shop door, on a bad day he stays in bed. Hold a pen, dress himself etc. If he is forced to work he will need me as his carer with him, which means that I would have to take our youngest son with us as he is also disabled (maybe caused by the drugs hubby was on at conception) as I am also his carer but don't get carers for him. I would need to be there because hubby needs help with his toilet needs, he would love to pick the prettiest young secretary to pull his pants down and help with the aiming but I doubt if anyone would do that for him.
But the testing proposed would mean talking to consultants, my husband doesn't see his consultant anymore, because the consultant just wants him to take ever more dangerous drugs that cause horrific side effects that cost more in hospital admissions than the DLA does.
DLA is paid out of National Insurance contributions, which both hubby and I have paid into for the majority of our working life, both as employees and employer, hubby has also been a high rate tax payer. The justification for claiming is in the name 'INSURANCE', if you had been paying into a private disability insurance scheme then public pressure wouldn't matter to you, you've paid your dues. But because we have people yelling 'spongers' all the time, because they have no understanding of the really crippling financial, emotional and personal affect that a disability has on a person, we disabled people are picked on.

As a side effect of taking too many people off higher rate mobility DLA, the Motability scheme would collapse. Depriving the car industry of 60% of its buyers of new cars. Yes Motability buys 60% of all new cars in any one year and those cars are put back into the market after 3 years as used, usually low milage, ex-lease, second hand cars. The motoring industry in this country would collapse. Is it worth it?

John of Tcell.org.uk said...

Thanks for posting the letter.

I am recieving a great deal of comment from so very worried people, like myself. Most notably are those on DLA over state retirement age.

I hope you don't mind but I have published a brief description on this on my website directing people through to this story to read it in full.

John.
www.tcell.org.uk

p smith said...

The government proposes to introduce additional tests to reduce by billions the amount spent on disability benefits. If you seriously think that they give a monkey's about the merits of individual cases such as this one, think again.

The cost of testing alone is likely to exceed the savings achieved by rooting out those claiming fraudulently. The only way to achieve net savings is by removing benefits from "borderline" cases such as the gentleman who took the time to write to Iain. It would be great if government intended to sit down and talk to his GP but they are not going to do that because that would cost even more money. You know it, I know it. The bottom line is saving billions whatever the social cost because the alternative is to raise taxes and this is a Tory government notwithstanding the presence of the Libdem flak-jacket.

Alister said...

The biggest issue I have with all this is that the benefits system is a one size fits all, in that we have to be put into boxes. Most medical conditions aren't black or white but shades of grey, with the most severely afflicted and less afflicted both suffering the same condition.

I suffer from ME/CFS, it ranges from the bed bound to the fully able. I've tried to get DLA and failed as I don't fit neatly into a box. If I cook dinner for a couple of weeks, I find myself getting exhausted and spending my energy just doing the cooking -yet because I can cook A (and the test is can you cook a single meal NOT can you cook continuously) I fail.

The tests have to include an element of what happens over time MS has reoccurring remitting type - what about these conditions?

Libertarian said...

Dear wordsmith for hire

Shame you can't read. I was referring the the fact that HMG take money in tax from people who then claim DLA.Rather than take the tax waste some of the tax taken on HMG bureaucracy then give back a lesser amount why not cut the HMG out of the loop all together thereby leaving more money better spent with the DLA recipient.

Please engage brain rather than make an assumption based on my name.

OneVoice said...

I had to give up a very well paid job at a point when I had just been offered a promotion that I really wanted when my eldest autistic son had his second breakdown when he was just 11 years old. He was 4 when I was told that he was having his first breakdown. I did what I had to do because he is my son and I see him as my responsibility. Caring for him has placed my entire family under a great deal of emotional strain. My eldest son has just about devoted his life to his eldest brother without ever being asked to do so. He does work but all of his social time is spent with his brothers allowing me some respite.

I would love to be back at work but it is never going to happen. My sons DLA just about pays for the increase in the gas and electricity bills that comes about when you live in a house that never sleeps. My son goes through two beds a year and I have lost count of the mattresses that we buy in the course of a 12 month period. He has multiple allergies and everything we buy him has to be hypoallergenic. Hypoallergenic bedding is very expensive. His room has had to be rebuilt to accommodate his allergies.

Living with autism can be very isolating for the entire family, and because it can also be an invisible disability we also sometime have problems calling on our families for support.

Wordsmith_for_Hire said...

Dear wordsmith for hire
Dear Libertarian, I made no assumptions based on your name. Your comment was unclear as to what you meant, hence why I questioned what you were saying. My brain may have spontaneous seizures but I can assure you there's nothing wrong with my cognitive powers. There's no need to be so rude.

OrganisedPauper said...

I receive DLA and suffer from a type of inflammatory arthritis and secondary fibromylagia, amongst other things. One of the most common problems associated with arthritis is fatigue. Yet it does not appear to be common knowledge that this is in fact a huge problem for arthritis sufferers. This is not the same kind of fatigue you get from say working hard then it gets better with rest. It means you physically cannot do normal tasks, even something as simple as being able to stand in one place for a few minutes or sit at a computer as keeping your body in one place is very fatiguing. fatigue interferes massively with the quality of life of those with arthritis. It's unpredictable and you may not be too bad for a week then be really ill for a couple of days, then OK for 3 days then ill for months. You simply cannot tell. If you over do it you risk being ill for very long periods, if you under do it you risk losing mobility.
None of this can be measured in a test. I look normal, I appear mobile. I'm not.

bonetired said...

I am in receipt of DLA, getting the lower care rate but the higher mobility. Given that I am an trans-femoral amputee, who also had to have a hip replacement in the so-called "good" leg due to crippling arthritis and although the hip replacement worked in that the pain went from crippling to mere bad. It will never be "right" because of the asymmetric loads that I put on my pelvis. I had to renew recently (and I haven't yet had the result - another point of anger: they are so f*cking slow. My application has been in for about 4 months)and, yes, they had to write to my consultant, who no doubt, will reply with a sarcastic letter along the lines of "his hip has repaired itself and his leg regenerated, much as I said last time". I am never, ever going to get better - much more probable is that I will become less and less mobile as I get older. The system,is broken - they could save vast quantities of money simply by looking at a person's history and then the need for the DLA is bleeding obvious.

trevorsden said...

People with disabilities should receive help. Its what the welfare state is all about. Its in all our interests as well.

Is there any dispute about this?

The welfare state has been hijacked and we need to get it back. For the sake of those who really need it.

But lets be clear - its not just about people with disabilities. We all get old and we all will need looking after in our old age. I do not simply mean pensions; I mean physical care.

How many of us are making proper provision for this?

longrun2 said...

The Permanent Secretary at DWP should be sacked because his department is unfit for purpose: the interviews should be to establish whether the claimant needs the DLA and so should be carried out by an expert in the condition from which he/she is suffering (occasionally alleged to be suffering).
I fully agree with TGR's first paragraph but his last is off-beam. The Coalition government is looking at every means that they can think of to reduce the budget deficit and tackling benefit fraud is one way to save a little money and, at the same time, to calm down millions who think "it's not fair" when asked to make a small sacrifice because the tabloids have highlighted a handful of ridiculous cases of benefit fraud. The stupid system of inperts interviewing claimants was introduced by the previous New Labour government - Iain, please can you pass on everybody's distrust of this idiotic system?
@ Libertarian: When I was a child/young adult income tax was only levied on income in excess of your needs but only a minority paid income tax so it was possible to give each taxpayer an individual tax code - the extension of income tax to a majority of the adult population and the appallingly incompetent computerisation of HMRC (both thanks to GB) means that this is now impracticable: also it doesn't help families with no breadwinner - they are a regrettable number of marriages that have split up under the strain of caring for an autistic child, leaving one parent with a full-time unpaid job as a carer. DLA works quite well (although the two/three band set-up means that it only roughly reflects need).

longrun2 said...

@ Onevoice: your eldest son has, deservedly, my admiration.

Libertarian said...

@wordsmith for hire


If you don't want me to be rude to you, don't be rude to me in the first place. If you read my original piece it is perfectly clear what was meant. In order to be rude to me you had to invent a whole paragraph I didn't write !

Mary said...

@Paul Dean

I understand what you are saying about "why should a family member bother to provide when they are being taught that the state will cover it?", but I feel that there are two major issues there.

The first is that, as others have pointed out, our families already tend to support us in so far as that is possible for them. But it's not always possible. For example, what if the writer of that email moved away from home to go to university or to further their career (and thus increase their earning and tax-paying potential)? Should the writer let personal and career development opportunities go by because their family and friends aren't prepared to give up their own jobs and support networks to move too? Would you prefer us to stay as low earners? Surely it is better for us to be able to live independently?

The second is human dignity. At present, the powers-that-be state that I have a right to a quality of life that includes being able to work, yes, but also to go out and about, enjoy public amenities, and take part in everyday life. So if I want to go to the library or the pub or the park, I have a budget to do just that.

To take away the DLA from that equation and require me to beg my family and friends every time I leave the house, changes my relationship with every single person in my social circle. I would no longer be an equal, but a burden. I would go out a lot less because I would be ashamed to have to keep asking.

DLA is not a handout any more than a state education is a handout. Just like a state education helps ensure that academic opportunity is not the exclusive preserve of the affluent, DLA helps ensure that the opportunity to engage with everyday life is not the exclusive preserve of the non-disabled.

After all, you can't expect us to go to work and yet deny us access to all the other bits of life.

longrun2 said...

@ Mary - our families ought to support us but if they are not able to or choose not to do so (and some do) then the state chooses to pick up the pieces. "The second is human dignity. At present, the powers-that-be state that I have a right to a quality of life that includes being able to work, yes, but also to go out and about, enjoy public amenities, and take part in everyday life. So if I want to go to the library or the pub or the park, I have a budget to do just that." My response is WTF: other people have no duty to fund your visits to the pub.

Gazza's UsefulTips and Blog said...

An interesting read. Thanks for posting. It seems someone like this correspondent should be helped more not less, given their marvelous approach given all the challenges. It is the parasites who take but make no attempt to give that will be the target of the clampdown - I hope.

Paul Dean said...

@Mary ("To take away the DLA from that equation and require me to beg my family and friends every time I leave the house, changes my relationship with every single person in my social circle. I would no longer be an equal, but a burden. I would go out a lot less because I would be ashamed to have to keep asking.")

There is merit in what you say about dignity being linked to social mobility and the logical outcome is to give money to all without means testing, although its sustainability is questionable.

However what I've quoted above is problematic to me. To receive financial support through general taxation instead of personal relationship merely covers the fact of being a burden with a mask of self-entitlement. The fact hasn't changed, but it's made easy to ignore. It's never a good idea to ignore reality in favour of a more palatable illusion and in this case a widespread sense of entitlement can be extremely damaging.

I'm trying to plan things so I won't have to claim the state pension when I retire (if it still exists by that time) but if I do have to I imagine it will be difficult to marshal my thoughts to be grateful and humble rather than self-entitling.

Tim said...

I hate the phrase 'GENUINELY disabled.' What does it mean? It sounds as if the non-disabled speaker is trying to impose their own definition onto me i.e. 'if you can work, you are not disabled, if you can't, you are.

It's not that simple - there are many GENUINELY disabled people who can work, but are kept out of the workplace by discrimination. A recent yougovstone survey found that three quarters of employers would not consider taking on somebody on Incapacity Benefit. That, in the present market, makes it near impossible for disabled people to find work. These people are supposed to be going into the grey 'work related activity' group of ESA, where they are supposed to get tailored help. But they are not because the government wants to save money by pretending to help us.

Now onto DLA. The government's 'state of the nation' report was misleading, describing it as a 'low income' 'out of work' benefit. As we have seen here, it is neither of those things, so what's going on? I suspect that Mr Osborne is preparing the public with excuses to cut.

George said...

The letter shows that for for every reaction there is someone who will unduly suffer. A reflection that one size does not fit all. A reflection also that the medical profession to some extent has been complicit in fraud against the state.
Too many people have been given the easy option of being classed as disabled, that they have, has been as a result of GP's and other medicoes being prepared to sign documentation without too many questions.
It is laudable and highly impressive that your correspondent pursues a career path. Many others do not. It is this latter area that needs to be weeded. So whilst the new pathway is made, for some there will be problems, most unfortunate and I hope that that can be minimised.
I know a number of people who have been signed off with disablity/sick who do not deserve the payments, who have used the scheme for personal gain and that is clearly untair on genuine claimants. The sooner the former are weeded out the better it will be for the latter and your correspondent.

Sobers said...

This thread is proof that all attempted reforms of the welfare system will fail, because the genuine cases will often be penalised, often because they are honest about what they can and can't do, whereas those that attempt to defraud the system will continue to be paid because they are prepared to lie repeatedly to achieve their aims. Thus the honest are penalised and the dishonest rewarded.

Add in the PC bias in the system that means anyone working in it will be loath to accuse anyone from an ethnic minority of fraud, for fear of being accused of racism, but will be quite happy to cut the benefits of non ethnic minorities because they know no-one will cut up rough about it. No one gets accused of anything for cutting a single middle aged white man's benefits.

Thus I predict you will end up with on one hand claimants such as have written in this thread being refused benefits, and Somalian refugees getting them, while obviously fraudulent.

longrun2 said...

@ Tim
DLA is not the same as Incapacity Benefit (or ESA or whatever the latest name for it is). DLA is paid to people, including children, whose disability results in additional costs for basic living whereas incapacity benefit is paid to those unable to work due to incapacity. Someone with MS who is unable to walk may (should) be entitled to DLA to help with the cost of an electric wheelchair but not IB if he/she is still able to (e.g.) teach. Regular has instanced some of the extra costs incurred.
English Pensioner has a point about the astronomical rise in the number of people on Incapacity Benefit (which hid the extent of the rise in unemployment under New Labour because those on IB were not included in the claimant count) but that is irrelevant to the discussion of DLA, as is (in consequence) your response. Part of the reply to that is that 50 years ago miners suffering from silicosis or other industrial injuries were given "light work" on the surface and most private sector employers tried to find or design, by reallocating tasks between jobs, a suitable job for an employee who became disabled (i.e. one that used their skills but excluded things that they could not do) - however that accounts for only a small fraction of the increase, as does discrimination which is illegal. A third cause is the NMW that has destroyed all jobs that were worth less than the NMW, a significant minority of which were previously occupied by disabled people who wanted to work at a low wage rather than feel "dependent". Fraud does exist (as the tabloids keep pointing out every time an instance is discovered), but the biggest single cause is that IB pays more than JSA so anyone who is partially disabled will choose IB if made redundant and anyone on IB who takes a short-term job will end up worse off as they are very likely to be put onto JSA instead of IB when it ends.
@ George - are you talking about DLA or IB/ESA? It looks to me as if you are referring to IB? Of course we want to stop IB fraud because it is unfair but the thread is about the stupid (New Labour) proposals to have inperts making judgements about the need for DLA for people who cannot even walk to the shops.

forgelindin said...

Iain,

I think it is great that you highlight people's cases in this way. You have always in the year I've read your blog shown an ability to relate to minority groups even in situations very different from your own. You have shown a willingness not just to write commentary, or observe politics, but take up causes.

Never say never to becoming an MP.

I can only vaguely remember some of the good reasons you quoted for deciding to discontinue your pursuit of a mandate. However, all that aside, do any of them reeeeaaaally mean you couldn't make representations on behalf of constituents? You can make a difference to people as an MP.

I may well have diametrically opposite political views, may disagree with you on issues of any size, however I still think you should go for it. Take a look in the mirror, this is what an MP looks like.

John of Tcell.org.uk said...

I hope you don't mind a second comment but if people could get there MP to sign EDM 393 I would be grateful.

Details here http://benefits.tcell.org.uk/forums/what-can-i-do-about-my-dla-worries-edm-your-mp-sign-and-lobbying-parliament-7th-july-1030-you

Thank you.

John.

Tim said...

longrun2,

Yes, sorry, I wasn't very clear. The first part of my post was about ESA/ 'genuinely' disabled and the second part was about DLA.

May I add a fact to this discussion - that DLA fraud runs at 0.5%. So what basis does Mr Osborne have for claiming that there is a lot of abuse?

Like I said previously, he is just pre-baking an excuse to cut. It risks pulling disabled people out of work and preventing them from entering it. After all, you will find it harder to get work if your care needs are not met.

ivanhoeaiden1952 said...

Hi,

I haven't been on here before but I can't stop myself making comment regarding Paul Dean and his rather patronising view of how others should live their lives with regard to not scrounging off the state but instead to become a penny pinching snivler to anyone who is a friend or relative.

Friendships can last for a lifetime, but can be broken so easily if one side of that friendship sees it as a gravy train. If those with very real disabilities were to ostracise themselves from their own social networks there would be a much greater burden for them to endure than simple monetary shortage. Depression and sheer desperation could be the result. Perhaps you can live without the state but with no friendship and companionship then whatever money you have is little compensation.

I wonder if Paul would like to be seen as a scrounger, a snivler, a pest - to those he feels care about him.

It must sound stupid to someone who has an ever abundant source of profitable family and friends to sponge off that those friends and family and requests for money should really be kept far apart. There are many programmes on tv that have shown the break up of

continued on next comment

ivanhoeaiden1952 said...

continued from previous comment

families over somewhat trivial sums of money. Would Paul wish to see those who may already feel themselves to be a burden on the state, also lose the friendship that comes freely when there is no finger pulling at purse strings.

I am a disabled person, suffering extreme mental tensions and constant mood swings, but am physically capable of many things. However, my life is now a mess and I have driven much of my family away by my own reactions to everyday events. I no longer see most of my friends due to my anger episodes. My Wife can see me as the love of her life or pure evil all in the same day. I am not functioning normally and it doesn't matter how much money you could throw at me as I don't care about money, or housing, or material things or even eating and washing myself. Most of my life has a black shroud over it. At some point I hope to come out from under this shroud and bring life long friends and family back towards me but at this moment its doubtful.

The money I get from the state keeps a roof over my head and food in my mouth but its not my needs that I care about. My Wife and Son have lived with my behaviour and believe me I disgust myself. She should leave me but she loves me and she knows I'd be dead within weeks without her. So money from the state keeps my Wife and child provided for because quite simply I cannot. I have a degree I can never call upon again in any job hunt as my medical conditions would be too extreme to be overlooked by any normal employer.

If I could have my old self back it would be worth all the money on Earth to me. My life is a broken thing with nothing to look forward to than the coming months and years of depression and exclusion. I am trying to rebuild my life and my friendships. Luckily apart from some borrowing from family I have not got to worry about money issues getting in the way of building those friendships again. My own hill is a mountain but I also know it is within my own, only my own, capability to change myself for the better. I do believe my friends were good friends until I forced them away.

Ultimately, to the state I am most thankful. But the state is a system that most of us have paid into and when in dire need should hopefully be able to call upon. No doubt most disabled would prefer to be well enough to work and enjoy their lives to the full. You can only do this with friendships and families that are still strong and not torn apart by money issues. I can loosely understand Paul's viewpoint and envy someone who can call upon favours at any level and who are not then constantly worrying about money and its impact on those relationships. Sadly, most cannot claim the same luck.

I hope this has made some sense. I do not write much and sometimes have trouble keeping any sort of focus but I hope you can understand that borrowing money from those who care for you will eventually destroy what may be left of a precious relationship that should ultimately be more important than short term need for money.

ivanhoeaiden1952 said...

continued from previous comment

families over somewhat trivial sums of money. Would Paul wish to see those who may already feel themselves to be a burden on the state, also lose the friendship that comes freely when there is no finger pulling at purse strings.

I am a disabled person, suffering extreme mental tensions and constant mood swings, but am physically capable of many things. However, my life is now a mess and I have driven much of my family away by my own reactions to everyday events. I no longer see most of my friends due to my anger episodes. My Wife can see me as the love of her life or pure evil all in the same day. I am not functioning normally and it doesn't matter how much money you could throw at me as I don't care about money, or housing, or material things or even eating and washing myself. Most of my life has a black shroud over it. At some point I hope to come out from under this shroud and bring life long friends and family back towards me but at this moment its doubtful.

The money I get from the state keeps a roof over my head and food in my mouth but its not my needs that I care about. My Wife and Son have lived with my behaviour and believe me I disgust myself. She should leave me but she loves me and she knows I'd be dead within weeks without her. So money from the state keeps my Wife and child provided for because quite simply I cannot. I have a degree I can never call upon again in any job hunt as my medical conditions would be too extreme to be overlooked by any normal employer.

If I could have my old self back it would be worth all the money on Earth to me. My life is a broken thing with nothing to look forward to than the coming months and years of depression and exclusion. I am trying to rebuild my life and my friendships. Luckily apart from some borrowing from family I have not got to worry about money issues getting in the way of building those friendships again. My own hill is a mountain but I also know it is within my own, only my own, capability to change myself for the better. I do believe my friends were good friends until I forced them away.

Ultimately, to the state I am most thankful. But the state is a system that most of us have paid into and when in dire need should hopefully be able to call upon. No doubt most disabled would prefer to be well enough to work and enjoy their lives to the full. You can only do this with friendships and families that are still strong and not torn apart by money issues. I can loosely understand Paul's viewpoint and envy someone who can call upon favours at any level and who are not then constantly worrying about money and its impact on those relationships. Sadly, most cannot claim the same luck.

I hope this has made some sense. I do not write much and sometimes have trouble keeping any sort of focus but I hope you can understand that borrowing money from those who care for you will eventually destroy what may be left of a precious relationship that should ultimately be more important than short term need for money.