Benefits…

…for who?

Firstly, apologies for the incoherent witterings yesterday. It just goes to show how BPD affects functionality when the person with BPD is put under stress! When I have to go through the whole pokking process again, I’ll get Lovely Boyfriend to set me off prior to the assessment so the examiner sees what it’s really like for us!

Anyway, secondly is a more rational explanation of the situation!

In the UK, we can claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) if we can’t work due to illness/disability. In order to keep receiving this benefit, you have to fill out a Work Capability questionnaire (approximately yearly), provide medical reports and, if that’s not enough for them, attend a Work Capability Assessment with a medical examiner who’s never met you before.

Depending how many points you get/don’t get, your entitlement to ESA can be stopped. My last payment thankfully went into my account 2 days before the announcement of 0 points.

My last payment…as of now I have no money coming in. Because the ESA has stopped, I’m no longer entitled to Housing Benefit (where all/some of your rent is covered because ESA covers basic costs, not enough to live luxuriously on).

So: no money coming in but more money now expected to be going out.

If I were able to demonstrate I’m actively looking for work, I’d be able to claim JobSeekers Allowance…but I’m not. I’m not able to work and my psychiatrist is preparing a letter to say so. Here comes another stupid part of the whole process:

I can (and am) appealing their decision. Once an official appeal is in place, basic ESA is granted and everything continues on as usual (although basic ESA is £71 a week so not a lot to live on), until they make a decision.

BUT…so many people were appealing the decision (and winning, I might add; especially in mental health cases) that there’s now an extra hoop I have to jump through first.

Mandatory Reconsideration. I send them the same information as I would for my appeal and they look at their decision. Except during this period I can’t claim ESA, only JobSeekers Allowance…which I’m not eligible for because I can’t actively seek work without my mental health rapidly deteriorating.

This Mandatory Reconsideration period has no time limit either, simply a government suggestion that it last no longer than 2 weeks. It might take up to a year!

It’s a good job I have Lovely Boyfriend to help out, otherwise my options would be ones I’m not even wanting to consider.

I wonder how many mentally unwell people have been pushed over the edge by this “benefits” system of judging us on our ability to watch TV and take a shower?

PS. I’m getting to give Trazodone a shot now, and have been referred back to the mental health team to see if further one-to-one therapy helps me get on through this latest blip. I’m now off to the Jobcentre to see what further advice they can give me, and the Housing office to explain why they won’t be receiving any rent for a couple of weeks!

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5 thoughts on “Benefits…

  1. I’m in Australia. I can’t work right now because of my anxiety/depression but because I’m married and my husband earns the “princely” salary of a school teacher, I can’t get any benefits at all … despite the fact that our living arrangements are based on us having two incomes. Effectively, we’re being pushed into poverty because we’re married.
    Our situations are not the same, but I feel your pain.

    • I can sympathise Bree. If I were living with Lovely Boyfriend I wouldn’t be entitled to anything either. In many ways it would be easier as I wouldn’t have to prove my craziness, but I like to be independent after too many years leaning on other people. Benefits might not be independent enough for some people, but I don’t believe I’m a scrounger or taking advantage of the system. If I could work, I would and I know it’s the same for everyone with mental health problems.

      • Yes!!! I’ve been a worker since age 13, paid taxes since I was 15, and now, when I really need some help, am ineligible. Some other people I meet in hospital – and this is going to make me sound like a bitch, but I don’t care – have lived at home all their lives, never worked, and get the full benefit (and some of them don’t seem all that unwell to me, but then again I’m feeling bitter and twisted and know I’m not qualified to make that statement).
        I sort of feel there should be some “crisis payment” for people like me who’ve struggled all the way through life and then fallen in a heap.
        I’m actually very left wing in my politics – I’m probably coming across as a conservative asshole! Sorry. It’s just been a rough day and my shoes are wearing out and I can’t afford a new pair, because otherwise I won’t be able to afford to fill my scripts. Nine months of this. I need to get well so I can start work again!

  2. Oh no, I just re-read that reply. I am sorry that I typed what I typed. I have no right to judge other people’s situations. I certainly wasn’t referring to any particular individual. I have used the comments space on your page for a rant fuelled by, well, just stuff.
    I do apologize.

    • Ranting is allowed and encouraged. I’ve worked when I could and most jobs ended badly (even the one that suited me had major downsides in terms of mental health effects). I would work if something suitable was out there and I didn’t have to worry about rent, food, shoes etc. But the stress of all that (eg becoming self employed to get the mist suitable work) is too much to handle so it’s better for my health if I stay home and write. Individual circumstances are not taken into account and need to be!

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