The True Cost of Being Sick in Scotland…

This week I was awarded the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – Americans and other people not aware of the UK benefits system, this is basically a disability benefit. You can be awarded either a standard rate or enhanced rate of living allowance and a standard or enhanced rate of a mobility component. The department for work and pensions (DWP) decided that for the next couple of years, I am top-tier disabled. I get a blue badge for parking and can even get a bus pass for free travel in Scotland – which will be great when I finally get the confidence to use buses with my wheelchair. WOO! PIP is supposed to cover the extra costs that come along with being disabled – car/taxis/mobility aids/living aids/paying for someone to come and help me.

disabled-sign

In the same week, the DWP have told me once again that I am fit for work and score ZERO points for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) – This is basically a benefit to replace a working income. My GP, physio, occupational therapist and even my local member of parliament are all fighting my corner on this one and STILL the DWP are struggling to engage their brains and join the dots.

Thanks to my cracking local MP, Kevin Stewart, I was called today by a very helpful member of the financial inclusion team at Aberdeen council. They have agreed to take my case on, do a home visit and get the ball rolling on taking it to a tribunal. They are also going to get someone from a local charity to have a look at our single glazed windows and general lack of sustained warmth – which I’m sure my landlord would be delighted with. My pain increases tenfold with the cold, and we sure as hell can’t currently afford to have the heating on all day every day.

The annoying thing with all of this is that for my PIP assessment, I was awarded the full amount of points for the moving around part – what with using an electric wheelchair. It’s basically the exact same descriptor used for ESA and they have awarded me 0 points. WHAT THE HELL? ARE YOU DRUNK? For PIP, I scored 12/12 for the almost identical criteria. See below:

Activity 1: Mobilising unaided by another person with or without a walking stick, manual wheelchair or other aid if such aid can reasonably be used.

Descriptor:
(a) Cannot either:
i) mobilise more than 50 metres on level ground without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion;
ii) or repeatedly mobilise 50 metres within a reasonable timescale because of significant discomfort or exhaustion.

That is just one drop in the ocean of the absurdity of this whole situation. I have no qualms in stating that the devil woman who did my ESA assessment was a completely incompetent, nasty boot. She’s a liar and I honestly do hope that one day she wakes up in unimaginable pain and finds out over the course of a year that her life will never be the same again. She will be in constant pain and the future will be uncertain – the only certainty is that her illness is incurable. I hope she feels like half of a person who has to sponge off of everyone she loves. I hope she feels so god damn miserable from the pain that suicide feels like a genuine option. I hope that when she asks for financial help (that she paid into by paying taxes her whole life) that some self-entitled arsehole tells her that she is tip-top and should get to work. I HATE HER. I never thought I’d wish something like this on anyone, but it turns out I do. I wish it on people who actively try and make my life an even more depressing, lonely, miserable place to be.

For PIP I scored:

Preparing Food – 2 points

Eating and Drinking – 2 points

Washing and Bathing – 4 points

Toilet Needs – 2 points

Dressing and Undressing – 2 points

Moving Around – 12 points

And that was being considerably marked down (as they are pressured to do) by the assessor.

For ESA I scored 0. ZERO points for the whole thing. Not only that, but they decided that based on my medication – I cannot be in severe pain. They neglected to acknowledge that I have been prescribed the strongest, most bad ass opioids but I don’t metabolise them. They might as well be jelly beans. The professor in charge of the pain clinic didn’t even know what to do with me. I do have “significant pain”. I have enough – completely unmanaged – pain that I regularly consider taking my own life and the only reason I don’t is because the people that love me would be destroyed. My life is worth fuck all to me. I can’t do anything I used to enjoy, I can’t have the life I always looked forward to, I can’t look after myself in the most basic ways and every moment that I exist on this planet is in SIGNIFICANT pain… I feel like a drain on everyone I love. I feel that I am a waste of oxygen.

I can’t wash myself, dress myself, feed myself… But I can supposedly work. Oh, but I typed this? Yes, and tomorrow my fingers will be destroyed from doing so. Tomorrow, I might not be able to wipe my own bum because I typed this today BECAUSE OF MY SIGNIFICANT PAIN. While this is money I am entitled to, that’s not why I’m so upset. I’m heartbroken that some arsehole pen pusher at the DWP has the audacity to tell me that I’m fit to work. I’d LOVE to work. I’d love to be independent, financially stable and see the lovely faces of the people at the Science Centre. But, I’d only be constantly letting them down because I can’t reliably do ANYTHING two days in a row. Today I haven’t been able to wash or dress myself because I am so sore and wobbly. I haven’t eaten all day because my acid reflux is verging on spew city – probably due to the stress, to be fair.

I’m not applying for damn pocket money. I don’t want to get J into trouble with his employer so won’t go into too much detail, but he wins the bread in this house and given the state of oil prices, his loaf of bread may or may not be an unpredictable slice or two less these days. We need all of the financial stability that we can get. You know, like me having a job… or the benefit I am entitled to now that I can’t work?

If the day comes where I act on my dark thoughts, I will make sure that I have left a letter explaining in full that I almost certainly wouldn’t have reached that point without the absolute mind-fuckery of the DWP. Being sick and disabled sucks, not because I’m not able, but because there is always some jerk trying to kick me when I’m down. Today, that was C Thomas. Fuck you, C Thomas.

Thank you, Kevin Stewart MSP and John from Aberdeen City Council’s financial inclusion team. Without them, today could have ended badly. SCREW YOU, C THOMAS AND YOUR CRONIES FROM THE DWP. I hope your next shite is a hedgehog.

Ren x

NB – The young woman from ATOS who did my PIP assessment was lovely. She really is a credit to this utter farce of a system.

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7 thoughts on “The True Cost of Being Sick in Scotland…

  1. Katie says:

    A few years back I was you.
    However I couldn’t handle it. I received a letter saying that my benefits was being stopped so i appealed. I then got a letter saying I lost my appeal, because they believed that I was fit to work. I got this on my 30th birthday so happy birthday to me. I was then on hold for 45 mins to say what happens to me now?
    I was so upset, angry, hurt, stressed, in unbelievable pain from fibromyalgia and hypermobility of the joints. So while on hold I took all the medication I had in the house. When the DWP finally answered I told them they can explain to my mum why I was not going to be here anymore. Then I hung up.
    My friend had called emergency services hence why I’m here now and I did with help from a charity and a Dr win my tribunal but the court hadn’t received any of my paperwork which I sent signed for and I emailed them a copy too.
    Like you I have days some better than others but I constantly feel like a burden on my mum and feel my life is worthless. I however never want to see the hurt my mum the way she was last time I tried to end it. So I will stay and try to fight this illness for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bowermanland says:

    Last year I scored 0 for both PIP and ESA. This year I have, after a total bombardment, been awarded ESA. I’m not even trying for PIP (though everyone I consulted said apply). I really do know what you mean about security and money and how it affects you. I know what it’s like to be unable to wipe my own arse. Due to opioid use, today I did indeed shit a hedgehog. Good luck lass. Keep fighting. Frances Ryan at the Guardian is a good person to contact. I contacted her, and she wanted my story – I said no because I was too scared the DWP would fuck me over because I’d gone to the papers. Since you already have PIP (a good thing for a tribunal) I suggest you contact her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. twiggyjen44 says:

    Right there with you but in the US. I’ve been waiting over a year just to get the date set for my disability (SSDI) hearing, and my lawyer is a useless little cunt of a man. Sending you fiery Scottish love from across the pond! (Dad’s mom was a Scottish immigrant)

    Liked by 1 person

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