What is it like to be in a position where you need support from the state? A mother tells us of her daughter’s experience.
About 2 years ago I was contacted by letter to say that 2 people were coming round to our home to inverview us regarding my daughter receiving DLA. This turned out to be the second time in about 4 years that someone has contacted them to say that in their opinion, she should not receive benefits.
I was unaware at the time, but when 2 officials arrived, their attitude of suspicion made me immediately aware that I was being interrogated. This was followed up some weeks later by a visit from a (presumably retired) gp, who again acted as if she was claiming money under false pretences.
I will tell you that my daughter, now aged 37, contracted a rare virus at the age of 17 months which caused brain damage – I would say she has an academic age of about 4 or 5 and a social age of maybe 12 or 13. She has always, and still does, live at home. In the following years she has been diagnosed with severe & multiple allergies, lupus, meningitis which cause the loss of some toes & now kerataconus wich has caused virtual blindness in one eye.
Anyone speaking to her for more than about 10 seconds would realise there was something pretty seriously wrong. However, we were treated the whole time with suspicion – this culminated in a final question from the doctor as to whether I had anything else to add. I commented how it was not easy to bring up a daughter alone as a one parent working mother, for most of her life with problems physically & mentally such as hers. Her reply was – “I meant medically”.
My daughter was made to sit with us the whole time at both interviews.
Having spent years encouraging her & telling her how clever she was when she achieved something small, this was ruined by 2 visits during which I had to tell them all the things she can’t do.
Amongst the illnesses she has, brain damage is irreversible, lupus is incurable, allergies cause problems on a daily basis, she will never grow new toes & the keracatonus will, sometime, affect her other eye too.
I can understand that these officers & the gp must see lots of people who do try to claim benefits falsely but their attitude caused both of us to be in tears after they had left. It then took 3 months for them to reach the decision that she is entitled to the benefits she gets.
The following year, she was subject to another assessment, another 2 hour stint, because of local authority cuts to see whether she qualified to keep the 2 days she attends at a local creative arts workshop. She does.
Now we’ve heard that DLA is changing to PIP so another assessment will take place. Apart from costing the Government a fortune, this continual fear & uncertainty has given me, amongst other things, high blood pressure. In my opinion, they’ve targeted the very section of society who are the most vulnerable & are unable to speak up for themselves. When you have it on record the problems that my daughter has, I cannot understand what you gain by these reassessments.