About a month ago now, I read a comment under a blog post (can’t remember which one), of a man who the DWP had turned down for ESA. He requested a Mandatory Reconsideration, but was turned down, so he naturally appealed. During that period, he was obviously claiming the appeal rate set at the same level as JSA.
He won his appeal, but despite that, the trubunal – though recognising that the original decision was wrong – said that they did not think his case merited a back-payment of ESA. This man had already lost ALL income during the lengthy MR period, as this period is not back paid, and now he was not entitled to the back payment of his ESA!
Another man had waited 8 months for his permission to appeal, and because the MR period is not back paid, he lost an enormous amount of yearly income.
I wish that I’d saved these comments dear reader, but you know what it’s like, you flip from blog to blog, site to site, trying to stave off the boredom.
I haven’t seen anywhere yet that those DWP decisions that deny you an appeal rate, or the tribunal decision about back payment have become the norm, but it is indeed very worrying. Securing back-payment of benefits at least means that you can pay off your debts, and hold some back ready for the next round of ‘nil income’.
I’m concerned that something else has changed however, that does seem to be becoming the norm. I came across this blog that ‘Britain isn’t Eating’ linked to https://minionofthestate.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/hardly-beneficial/ It was written by a social worker that was frustrated because the DWP stopped the benefit of a person she was supporting, because this person could not attend a WCA, due to being a patient in a mental health hospital.
That, apparently, was no excuse at all, so with the support of the social worker the person asked for an MR. The MR was turned down, and the DWP said that they’d have to appeal. I always thought that at such a point you claimed the appeal rate, but they were told point blank that the person would have to claim JSA, which obviously, being chronically ill, they are unlikely to be successful.
So let me get this straight. Firstly, being in hospital is no excuse for not attending a WCA; now I’m not surprised by that because being in a coma isn’t an excuse; similarly having a heart attack during an assessment isn’t an excuse for not finishing the assessment. Further, after an MR period, you’re not allowed to claim the appeal rate, but we all know that the DWP won’t let you claim JSA unless you are fit for work, so they keep turning people down for JSA. Not only that, even if you do win your appeal, it’s quite possible that you will receive no back-payment.
Basically then, for whole years of your life, you will have to exist with no income at all. Spread what you do receive in benefits over a few years, and that adds up to a massive benefit cut.
I used to have ‘The Fear’ about this. It woke with me every morning, and often kept me awake in the night, like most of us in these circumstances I guess. I already have PTSD – though this is the lesser of my disabling problems – it’s obviously deteriorated due to the lack of perceived stability: if you didn’t have a mental health problem before, I can guarantee that you’ll develop one if you’re ever subject to the DWP. The weekend that the Conservatives won the election, I nearly lost my mind again: I wonder how many people were sectioned – or at the very least had to visit their doctor due to depression – the week following the election?
I’m convinced that being in such a state of mind – allowing myself to be overcome by it – has permanently damaged my health, so I’m trying as best to work out ‘worst case scenario’. whilst meantime researching in detail what to do if all income is removed.
A quote from the book ‘Dune’ has always stuck in my mind:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I’ll try to do that, to allow fear ‘to pass over me and through me’, but you and I know it’s not that easy. I hope that I haven’t left it too late in that regard – and I’m warning you reader not to let that fear get ahold of you year in and out – because I’m not just facing ‘the little death’ now; it’s a hell of a lot bigger than that: it won’t just kill my mind, but obliterate me completely.