A punishment for claiming benefits?


I am the appointee for a young Deaf man, who I will refer to as ‘M’, who has autism and additional needs. In January I received his form to complete to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Days and hours were spent filling it in, reading advice etc and obtaining supporting evidence to ensure a full picture was given of his needs and why he previously received Incapacity Benefit. Finally the day came when it was complete and I sent it by special delivery .

I waited hopefully and anxiously for the answer. Would he need to attend an interview? Would they telephone to make an appointment? If I was out I could not be contacted.

Two weeks ago the brown envelope arrived, with the decision. Yes, he would receive ESA and would not be required to attend an interview. Relief was felt. Then I began to wonder was this award time limited? By contacting Sense Legal I discovered that it was only until November 2013… 6 months! I felt deflated and quite angry.

So I decided to phone DWP to ask what would happen in November. I was informed that a form would be sent in October [ was it going to be the same as I had spent days filling in? ] and it would have to be sent back. There was the possibility that M would improve. I managed not to rage as I explained that  M was born this way and he would not waken up  one morning “cured “ and able bodied. The reply was this is Government policy. This person to whom I was speaking at DWP only knew of the longest time that ESA had been awarded,  was for two years.

I felt so angry that I would have to go through this procedure in less than 6 months, and more upsetting in realising that it will be ongoing……….ad infinitum.

Why does someone who will not become hearing and shed his other disabilities be scrutinised again so soon? Is it a punishment for claiming benefits? Should I be searching the Internet to find miracle pills to “cure” his disabilities and thereby ensure that he could join the able bodied and no longer be a “benefit claimant”? Why do disabled people have this scrutiny when they have these “lifelong” diagnoses?

Families and carers of disabled people are expected to fill out all these forms just to ensure their “disabled” person can have a life. Is this all we families have to look forward to as we age and the goalposts are moved further away meaning that our “children” have to  undergo further scrutiny to prove that they need these benefits?

Rant over, back to my knitting and cuppa….until the next brown letter.

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