Things went from bad to worse on Friday when I got a letter informing me my Disability Living Allowance would no longer be awarded as a result of the medical assessments that I had for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. This means I have no income at all now.
It also means the stakes are very high for the IB tribunal I have coming up in a couple of weeks. If they overturn the ATOS assessment I will get my IB reinstated and I will be in the same place financially, and then will go to appeal with the DLA. If they don't overturn the assessment we are up shit creek without the proverbial paddle. Well, actually it's not that bad because I will have to open my pension pot, but that won't last long and just defers the problem. We'd probably have to use that money to move to a smaller and cheaper place without a bedroom for Little R and with all the upheaval and loss of quality of life it would engender. Also, AJ's work policy on lease cars has changed and they will expect him to buy or lease his own car. He does around 250 miles a week getting to sites. This will finish us off completely.
I'm trying not to project but since Friday I have been in shock. It's obviously having a knock on effect on my body. My mobility is worse, my fatigue is worse, I have a lot of back pain and a constant headache. I wake up in the night full of dread and then anger. Everything is about not thinking about it and trying not to worry AJ too much, who is looking gaunt and exhausted himself.
The wonderful woman from Citizen's Advice (who recognised my voice when I called her the other day) says it is wrong that they pass information from IB and ESA assessments to the DLA people, but that it is happening all the time and I am not alone. She says we can fight this and I trust that eventually I will get my entitlements reinstated. However, the way things are, I may have to go through the whole thing again in a year when they reform IB and DLA. And anyone claiming will have to have an annual assessment. These assessments, apparently, cost £750 each to administer. A nice little earner for ATOS.
I feel persecuted but most of all angry. What are people meant to do? My Mother was telling me about a case she'd read about where a man had terminal kidney cancer and they found him fit for work despite all the evidence. The CAB guy told me a couple of weeks ago about a client he'd had; an amputee with one leg and ATOS said he could wiggle the toes on both feet! The assessment I had was deeply flawed, she did not ask the right questions, she put words into my mouth and ignored statements I made about my health. The system is broken. Most of all, I think, it is fostering this culture where it is ok to assume people are malingering, that people on benefit are taking money out of the pockets of good honest workers. Why not build some work houses and be done with it?