Benefits Agency Angst

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had an assessment for claiming Incapacity Benefit in early December. I got a letter today, telling me I no longer qualify for IB. Looking at the letter, they might as well have written “we really have no clue about this lady’s condition, and we’re just ticking random boxes”
Last time I got this letter, it simply said that I still qualify, and that I had the right to appeal against the decision – the usual blurb, but this time, they’ve broken it down into a more in depth look at how they reached their decision, with a tick sheet of basic questions the answers to which award you ‘points’. Get enough points, and you get the benefit.
The entire page on “physical health” is a series of ‘no’ answers – basically they think that because I was okay on that particular day, I don’t have a physical health problem. Given that last week, I was crawling on the floor to go to the toilet because the pain in my back and hip was so bad I couldn’t stand, I think they’ve got something wrong. Although my reason for not working and claiming this benefit is primarily due to my mental health problems, I’m sure it is important to get the facts right about my physical health problems too.
The page on “mental health” is a series of both yes and no responses, which I can’t understand because I wasn’t asked half the questions on this form. How the hell they have reached the conclusion that I “can answer the telephone and reliably take a message” is beyond me, because I wasn’t even asked that. If I had been, I would have told them that the mere ringing of the telephone can cause me to have a panic attack, and there is NO WAY I can answer the phone if I don’t know who it is.
They have also decided that my mental health problem “does not prevent me from undertaking leisure activities which I have previously enjoyed”. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been invited places and declined because of how I feel, or how it would affect my anxiety. I can’t go to the cinema if it’s busy. I rarely go out with friends, because I need to feel safe. I don’t go out on my bike any more, partly because of the pain, and partly because I can’t go outside by myself. The terror I feel at the thought of leaving the house on my own is incredible.
I guess that the Benefits Agency can’t have a system that takes into account every little nuance of my mental health, however this so-called “assessment” is ridiculous. As well as the medical I attended, there was also a detailed form to fill in about my illness. On it, I definitely put about my problems with the telephone, and I remember writing something to the tune of “I only go out when absolutely necessary, and even then, I have to be accompanied by my husband”. It seems that my efforts to accurately describe my day to day life with this disability went unheeded.
I shall be appealing, partly because I need the money, and partly because I’d planned to apply for DLA, and although it has separate forms, I don’t know how much of this “assessment” they will look at. What bothers me is that my answers to the questions (both on the form I received and the doctor’s questions) were exactly the same as previous occasions. Nothing about my condition has changed. This whole thing needs to be consistent, for fucks sake…

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