I had to attend a tribunal a couple of weeks back for my Disability Living Allowance claim. It didn’t go very well, and we got sent the statement of reasons this morning. Surprise, surprise – they accused me of lying (because who in their right mind would have a successful career in computing when they could lie in bed all day in pain instead?), despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. I had hoped that the tribunal service might actually be fair, but my advisor had already spotted that my panel clearly didn’t believe in “invisible illnesses”. Thanks a lot, media and government, for spreading the idea that if you can’t obviously see a disability, the person is making it up: you have condemned another innocent person.
I think I’m too exhausted to be angry, and anyway, I need to now use any surplus energy I have for filling out the next form, since without DLA I can’t access any care or mobility help. Pretty much every single disability help in the UK depends on you having DLA; from applying for a parking spot badge, to the social services help which you have to pay for out of your allowance. If you don’t get DLA, you don’t get help. Full stop. Yes, charities exist, but the ones that bothered to reply to me said they don’t provide help which “should be” covered by DLA or the NHS.
At least I’m luckier than most – I actually have some income and care (both via my wonderful husband). Lots of people in this position just wind up homeless and destitute; lots more kill themselves. That breaks my heart.
Oh, yeah, and I didn’t actually read the statement they said. Is that cowardly? I’m not sure. I don’t think I can face reading another multi-page document detailing various lies about me which bear no resemblance at all to reality. I don’t think it would do me one bit of good. My husband read it for me, and the welfare advisor will check for things we can appeal against, so I don’t need to. It feels a bit like cowardice, but I’m hoping it’s actually wise for me not to waste energy on reading that junk. I’ve read enough of it already.