I’ve been thinking a bit more about this whole IB decision, and have come to two conclusions.
Firstly, the points system. It looks like I fill a form in, my GP fills a form in, and a doctor examines me, then someone else comes along and awards me points based on those three things. (A blind person, obviously)
Secondly, I’m pretty certain that last time this assessment thing happened, it was M, not my GP who filled in the “health care professional” side of the form. With all due respect to my GP, a psychology counsellor who has spoken to me in depth for an hour every fortnight is going to be more able to accurately describe my day to day living. My GP sees me for 10-15 minutes once a month, and none of our consultation is counselling. Having said that, I was there in her office when she filled in the forms, and I don’t recall having any cause to say “hang on a minute, what about…”
I went through the points scoresheet, and answered the questions as honestly as possible. I scored 22. I required 10 to qualify for IB, and they had given me 7.
I swallowed a lot of rage yesterday afternoon and phoned the Benefits Agency. I just couldn’t understand how they had got it so wrong. The woman I spoke to was okay, at least she wasn’t one of these stereotypical benefits ogres (but then, I wasn’t screaming “where’s me fookin’ giro??” down the phone and threatening to leave my baby on their step, while calming my nerves with 20 regal kingsize). I learned a few interesting things. She told me that “it’s a fine line sometimes between getting IB and not” Yes, there’s a fine line between 7 points and 22 points. She told me that as I didn’t qualify for Income Support, it might be worth claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance. Riiigght – so, signing on as unemployed and “fit and available for work” is a good idea… Finally, she suggested that I contact the Disablilty Employment Advisor.
When my employers first terminated my contract about 4 years ago, I was sent to the Disability Employment Advisor. The poor woman struggled to suggest things that would be helpful, and in the end, said “I think your best idea is to see how the counselling goes then come back to me”. Although my situation has fluctuated since then -I’ve felt better and I’ve felt a damn sight worse – I really don’t know what they could tell me. Call me defeatist if you like, but what on earth is the point of going and getting stressed about new places and people for no reason?
The Benefits Agency cut any benefits that they decide you’re not entitled to immediately – without warning. This means that I got the letter yesterday, and I stopped getting benefit yesterday. I hope to god we weren’t relying on that payment for any direct debit or anything…
If anyone is googling for advice on a similar situation, a friend has advised me to contact DIAL UK. I haven’t yet, but will do, and report back…