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Into Autumn

Posted Oct 10 2010 12:00am
I was just checking my list of tags. My most used are 'recovery', 'crash' and 'depression' in that order. I rarely, if ever, go back to earlier posts. For me, it's all about the writing it out, downloading it and then forgetting about it. Suddenly though, it feels like a very long journey.

Anyway, I'm sitting here of a Sunday morning next to my LitePod looking out at my view which is rapidly changing to yellow and gold. The odd leaf is fluttering down but we haven't had a cold enough night yet for a big leaf fall. When we have a frost the small amount of water in the joint where each leaf meets the tree will freeze and expand, so causing it to break away. My view will change overnight. For the first time in months I'll be able to see the other side of the Dale and watch the daily coal train, as well as hear it clunk towards the power station.

It's been a challenging week. I've had a lot of shoulder pain and muscle weakness is making me clumsy. I had a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions saying I was no longer eligible for Incapacity Benefit as a result of my medical assessment. And I crossed the rubicon and used a Shopmobility scooter for the first time.

I'm obviously going to have to challenge the decision about my IB. I wonder if they have made a mistake since the report bears little relation to the interview? Bearing in mind I turned up on the wrong day, I wonder if they have mixed me up with someone else. That's the charitable interpretation. The alternative is that, basically, they think I'm lying. I clearly stated I had problems with my mobility, that things fluctuated, and that I had diagnosed mental health disorders which made it difficult for me to cope with pressure. Since I could walk across the room, use my computer and engage in some social activities it seems I am fit for work. I suppose, and I hope wrongly, they can now relook at my DLA and take that away too. 


I am incandescent about this but it is neither a new anger, or unexpected. My ex has been going through similar lately and the CFS and disabled community has been aware of benefit iniquities for some time. There is something going very wrong with the way ATOS (the company with the contract to manage and carry out benefit assessments) is doing its work. I suspect, although I don't have the energy really to investigate this thoroughly, it is because they have been set a target of cutting welfare benefits by 20%. Even before this current government was elected there were news stories about the high number of applicants being rejected and then being granted their benefit on appeal. This blog post from Benefits and Work   talks about a report by Robert Martin, a previous President of Appeals Tribunals. He says:

‘Criticism was made of ATOS Healthcare medical practitioners who did not appear to pay sufficient attention to the appellant at the medical examination and who produced findings in medical reports based on observations that were inconsistent, or recorded in the medical report findings that were contradictory.’

I have hesitated to say this, but English was not the first language of the woman who interviewed me and I think she missed the subtleties of what I was saying. And it was like she was trying to get me to say the thing that would help her tick a box. For example she asked me how I would describe myself. I said 'emotionally labile', and then she said 'well what about your outlook, you have a positive outlook?' I said 'well, I'm very determined.' So she ticks a box that says 'no problems'.
More on that soon.

Actually I'm pooped, so this will have to be a two parter. See you soon.
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