Food for thought, as it were:
I went to Oldham foodbank last week.
One of the people I talked with there was Jeanette, 53.
Jeanette said she’d had a stroke in 2009. She used to receive Disability Living Allowance, but like most DLA recipients, was recently told by the DWP that her DLA payments would end and that she needed to apply for the Personal Independence Payment.
She applied for PIP and went for the medical assessment for PIP. She failed her assessment by just a few points. Her PIP application was declined.
I asked if she had appealed this decision – if she had asked for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision not to award her PIP and/or if she had gone on to file a full appeal.
“No,” Jeanette said. “It’s too stressful.” Specifically, Jeanette was worried that the stress of filling in appeal forms and sourcing more medical information would lead to another stroke. “I’ve got to think of my health,” she said. “I just rely on family and friends to get me around…since my stroke, I’ve found it bloody hard to walk… up and down my right side it’s affected the right side of me and the speech, that goes, doesn’t it?”
This is a common story, as many people will know. I can’t tell you how many sick or disabled people I’ve talked to over the past few years who decided not to apply for disability or support benefits, or to appeal negative decisions that they might successfully have overturned, because they were too unwell to cope with our dysfunctional, ridiculously bureaucratic and stressful benefit application and appeals processes.
In other words – people are too unwell to pursue the support that we are supposed to have in place for people who are unwell. Anyone with experience in this area knows this, of course. People know that government separates people from their benefit entitlements by presenting them with a series of soul-destroying bureaucratic hurdles.
Sure, people can try and find welfare advice and support, but often, that’s just another challenge that people could do without. So they do without.