I don't normally share stuff like this because I think it's personal. But people ought to know just how difficult life is for disabled people.
I have not been able to walk for five months now and I don't know if I will ever walk again. So many things in my life have changed and mostly my personal independence. It made sense to make an application for a Personal Independence Payment, or PIP as it is known.
I filled in the massive form, putting as much detail as possible about my condition and backing it up with notes from the hospital and a list of the prescribed drugs I have to take every day. That was daunting enough, it took me days to complete it.
Then I waited for four weeks and I was asked to attend a medical assessment.
I've heard people complain about these assessments so I was very nervous, but I went along and figured, hey, one look at me and they will see how disabled I am.
I went in my wheelchair with my Other Half pushing me. When we arrived I was asked if it would be more comfortable for me to stay in my chair or transfer to the chair in the room. I opted to stay in my chair, why go through the physical pain to move chairs if it wasn't really required.
Probably a mistake, if she had seen me move then she would have seen how difficult it is for me.
She asked me a few questions which were on the form and I answered them.
Then came the physical examination, she asked if I could do the standing exercises and demonstrated them..
bend and touch toes...can't do
bend knees into a squat...can't do
hop on one leg...cant' do
She didn't make me try, but I can't do any of them anyway.
Probably a mistake, I should have tried then she would have seen that I can't do them.
Then she gave me some upper body exercises to do while sitting.
lift arms above head...can do, but left arm is slow to move
put arms behind back....can't do
turn head left and right...can do ( I can't move my shoulders fully but she didn't ask me to do that)
That was it. Over. We were in there about 20 minutes.
She didn't ask me to walk, did not see me out of my chair, did not even ask me if I could walk or how far I could walk.
Then I had my results. I am offered a low rate payment for care and a low rate payment for mobility.
This is because I don't need a lot of help around the home (just everything doing for me) and I can walk more than 20 metres (on the form it said without pain, but every step to me is incredibly painful)
I was stunned!
It's not about the money. I was hoping that I'd get full rate on mobility. I cannot walk more than 10 metres with aids and it's as painful as walking on glass. But without asking me or seeing me walk they can decided that I CAN walk more than 20 metres. I do not walk outside because apart from the pain I have balance issues, in the house there is always a wall nearby to catch me. (yes, this is even with a frame.)
I wanted the full rate mobility for one main reason. It means I can get adaptations for a car so that I may be able to drive again. These adaptations are well out of my price range and the cost of fitting them even more. If you get high rate mobility you can exchange it for these adaptations. I dream of being able to drive again, to be able to get out of my house easily, take my kids to school again, do the shopping, go to work. Yes, I'd have to take my wheelchair, but the freedom a car would give me is invaluable. Unfortunately, my legs don't work so I can't drive at the moment.
I could use the money I have been offered to pay for driving lessons for my Other Half (yes, unfortunately I'm the only driver in the household) and then he could drive me around...but it doesn't give me the independence I crave...my personal independence!
The whole disability benefit system is a farce, it really is. I AM disabled, I CANNOT walk, my consultant, my doctor, my physio therapist will vouch for that...but no, because one face to face interview with a woman who could barely give me the time of day let alone see what I could or couldn't do, my fate has been decided. I'm not entitled to it.
I feel humiliated.
I feel let down.
I wasn't looking for a handout, I was looking for a way of regaining my personal independence.
Sadly, I know all too well that I'm not the only one in this situation.
I will join the ranks of those fighting for what they are entitled too.