DLA – Pick up your bed and walk!

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In March of this year my DLA was reduced from middle rate care, higher rate mobility to just lower rate care. I asked for reconsiderations and the award stayed the same. Having gone to my MP I got another reconsideration and my award was reduced to nothing – all because according to their medical services “moderate” CFS doesn’t cause someone to need care. So much for DLA being about how someone’s disability effected them individually.

What gets me about this statement is that i’ve had “moderate to severe” CFS for the past 5 years and have never had a problem until now. I’ve checked the CFS scale and at my best i’m in the worst 70% and and fluctuate between that and the worst 80%. This of course is without taking my fibromyalgia and back problems into account.

Most of this of course is based on a deeply flawed ATOS medical which focused on joint weakness and pain which at 3pm ain’t that much of an issue. There was no mention of the CFS during the medical and in the section about fluctuation it says “none stated” yeah because I wasn’t asked. I was even penalised for being able to get into my MPV to pick my daughter up from school. The fact alone that I had to get into the car to pick my daughter up from school less than a mile away and that I used a wheelchair to go a couple of hundred yards from the carpark was irrelevant. I have a strong pincer grip and could get off a low sofa briskly erm see me in a few hours mate when Adam has to get me off the dam thing because i’m too tired to move.

There is no mention of the sudden sharp pains in my back, hips and legs or dizzy spells which come out of nowhere and cause me to fall. No mention of the crippling fatigue which makes everything I do a challenge and force me to spend time in bed whilst the girls are plonked in front of the telly, no mention of the panic attacks when i’m tired and things are getting on top of me, no mention of the depression caused when I’m unwell for weeks at a time and don’t see a soul.

Needless to say I am complaining about the report because it’s fundamentally flawed. Way too many “none stated” bits where i’ve not been asked the question.

I just feel like i’m being treated like a criminal. All I want is to be able to live comfortably and when I’m well be able to work. I’m limited because I can only concentrate for short periods of time so work as a temporary nursery assistant for an agency which means I can pick and choose hours around how i’m feeling. I work a couple of hours a day when I can and sleep at least 2 hours a day on a good day and up to 6 hours a day on a bad one. Even if I don’t sleep I spend 5/7 days a week lying in bed unable to move for several hours. I rely heavily on my daughter to fetch and carry and on my husband to cook, clean, push my wheelchair, help with my medication and to help me in and out of the bath. Apparently according to ATOS guy a bath stool would mean I could do this independently! Again I wasn’t asked about this, I pointed out that the lack of grab rails in the bathroom meant I couldn’t get in and out of the bath safely – what relevance does a bloody bath stool have? I have 3, bloody useless if you can’t get in the bath to sit on the sodding thing in the first place.

He mentions the fact that I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, yup well there’s a good reason for that – I was up to my eyeballs on the highest dose of gabapentine and codeine possible. I restrict my activity and my husband supports me with my medication so that I maintain this level of mobility. Without this then I would be bent double most of the time in agony which would in turn make my CFS worse as I wouldn’t get the rest that I need.

So just like that I have no DLA whatsoever and in fact I have to repay 3 months worth potentially and all because of a report from a GP who meant me for less than an hour. Cheers!

 

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One response »

  1. I’m really sorry to hear you’re in this horrible situation. I am so lucky not to have had an Atos assessment for my DLA for CFS & mental health needs. I also give benefits advice part time as I change career.

    My advice to you is to try and see this as not personal to you Helen, but as if the claimant side of you is separate to the woman who her friends and family know. It genuinely isn’t them thinking you as the individual are a liar but the system seeing everyone as flawed. You can rage and change the system some other time, but right now you need to put your energies into your claim and some separation if you can helps.

    You need to make sure this goes to tribunal. Ask the DWP to do so. They can’t refuse you. Tribunals are independent of the DWP and are much more understanding and likely to take evidence from your medical team onboard rather than just go on the Atos person’s report (were they a doctor or were they a midwife or some such). A tribunal is scary but they talk to you as a person and relate to you and their decision is binding. It’ll take about 7 months to get there unfortunately due to demand but that gives time to prepare a good case and get ready. They’ll backdate the money as well *when* you win.

    If you’d like any more advice, please follow me on Twitter. But either way please keep us informed. I’m not as affected as you and I get low rate for both. You are still entitled and you are right. Try and remind yourself of that as you fight them! Good luck!

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