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Sunday, 20 February 2011

DWP and friendship

I meant to blog earlier, but I didn't know what to say. I feel like I have said it all. Multiple times in fact. I think everyone has grasped that I feel like shit and want to die. For anyone new, or who hasn't picked up on the situation, that is it. I mostly write as a way of trying to get all of the thoughts out of my head, but they don't appear to be going anywhere even when I do write, so it seems quite pointless from that point of view, and I am just really lacking motivation. There are a couple of specific things I wanted to write about though, so I will try and write about those, rather than just generally rambling.

I got a letter yesterday, which stressed me out. From the DWP, wouldn't you know? It says, and I quote (anything in red is an addition by me),

'Dear Bippidee (of course addressed to my real name, or it would just be weird)

We need to see you in order to discuss the benefits we are currently paying you because a query has arisen on your claim. What the fuck?! We need to ensure your payments are correct and it is important that you are available so we can discuss the matter further. What matter? I see no matter to discuss. Please fuck off and leave me alone.

You should note that where there is doubt about whether the conditions for entitlement are met, we can suspend payment of your benefit. Thanks. Please fuck off, again.

A Customer Compliance Officer, Mr Nosy Fuckwit (not real name) will be calling on Thursday, 24 February 2011 between the times of 9:30AM and 3:30PM. Please note we will not be able to state a specific time. Helpful. Thanks for that.

Some irrelevant crap like stuff they want to see, none of which I know where to find etc etc.

Yours sincerely
Mr Nosy Fuckwit
Customer Compliance Officer'

This fairly naturally sent me into a complete tailspin. Firstly, what on earth is there to query about my benefits?! The only thing I am claiming is old Incapacity, although due to lack of NI contributions it has always been paid as Income Support with illness/disability premium. I live at home with my parents, which they know, I have some savings that are within permitted amounts, which they know, I don't work, I am not going out partying every day and claiming under false pretences. I don't claim Housing/Council Tax benefit as I live with my parents. I am not even claiming DLA, which I have been told by multiple people I am eligible for. So what is there to discuss? What can possibly have been queried? I asked on Twitter yesterday, and also did some Google research, and it seems like they are essentially the overspill of the fraud department, and are generally sent around when someone has said you are making a fraudulent claim, or if they suspect you are living with a partner and have claimed you are living alone etc etc. A few people have said they occasionally make random checks, but I would seem a bad person to make a random check on, given that my claim is so straightforward to most people's - I claim one benefit. I am not at all happy about them sending a man around to my house. I don't want some strange man in my house making accusations that I am a benefit fraud. I don't want some strange man in my house full stop. And them not being able to give a time is completely shit. I wasn't planning to go anywhere, but it is very rare at the moment that I get to sleep before 6am. I will have to be awake by 9:15am in case they do come in the morning. And then what if they don't come until 3pm. I am meant to stay awake all day having probably had 2 or 3 hours sleep, waiting for them? That won't happen. And what if I wanted to arrange for someone to be here with me for support - are they supposed to stay for six hours?? It seems totally unreasonable. I tried phoning the number on the letter that it says to contact immediately if you are unavailable etc to a) find out what the hell it is about, and b) try to pin them down to a more precise time, for example morning or afternoon, but I got no reply. And it didn't even go to answerphone. This stress was absolutely the last thing that I needed right now with how I was feeling. It actually made me even more determined to kill myself before then so I didn't have to deal with it. I don't know where my driving licence or passport are, I have no utility bills, I have no rent agreement - all of which they want to see. I have a bank statement. But I have two bank accounts and only have a statement for one of them. They will hate me. I just really didn't need this stress. I know I have done nothing wrong and so I have nothing to be worried about, but my experience with the DWP has shown me that you have to be worried even if you haven't done anything wrong, as they will treat you like a criminal regardless. Fuckwits.

Right, onto a nicer subject. Today the most beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived for me. It was from La Reve and I can't say how much it meant to me that she had done that for me. It was completely unexpected, and nearly made me cry. I can't believe that someone whom I have never met, and have only known a relatively short time, would want to do something so sweet and generous for me. The madosphere is a wonderful reminder of how many fabulous people there are out there, who really do care for others, and will do things to try and help. She knew she couldn't stop me feeling like this, but she showed me she cared, and that meant so much. And does every time I get a supportive comment or email or tweet. It reminds me that people care, which is a really big deal when you don't feel you are getting any care from the professionals, whose job it is to care. There will always be people who say it is a bad idea to talk to people you have met on the Internet, that you don't know who they are, that you should never meet anyone you meet online, that talking to other people with mental health problems is a bad idea etc etc, but I have never found any of this to be remotely true. I started meeting up with people I met online, on theatre and dance messageboards, when I was 16, and have since met others from all sorts of sites, and whilst I haven't kept in touch with everyone I have met from the Internet, I have met some of my closest friends online, and I can quite honestly say that I think it would be very unlikely that I would still be alive if it weren't for people I have met online - both those in person, and those who have supported me on here. The support is absolutely invaluable, and I wish more people would realise how wonderfully supportive the Internet can be. Here is a picture of my beautiful flowers;

12 comments:

  1. Fucking bureaucratic wankers of evil! Fuck! I'm not surprised you're really stressed. I wish I could offer reassurance but there is nothing. Just that they're bastards with a poker-up-their-arse bollocks of an agenda, and you have done nothing wrong.

    On a lighter note, I totally agree about online friendships. I would never have made it this far without Twitter and blogging. Not in a hundred million years. There are good people out there.

    *hugs*

    P xxx

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  2. *hugs*

    My guess is that the wankpots at the DWP think "oh, she's not claiming DLA. That must mean that she'd not actually disabled, so let's take away her Income Support."

    I find online support very valuable, too. A lot of people care about you, and this is because you have been genuinely wonderful to people who need support. You have often cheered me up on Twitter. I really hope I have helped you, too. *hugs*

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  3. Thank you both. I have no idea. I can't imagine everyone in Incapacity/ESA is also claiming DLA, surely?? DLA is bloody hard to get - I tried once and found filling in the form so distressing, even with help from someone who knew how to fill them in, that it made me worse for a while, then was rejected for the very reasons I had told them I needed it, and just couldn't face appealing, and have never felt able to re-apply as the whole thing felt detrimental to my mental health, and I just can't cope with that. I have no idea. Either it is a random check, but I have no idea what they are hoping to find out, or as you say, it is something to do with not claiming DLA, although that seems a bit unlikely, or someone has told them I am claiming fraudulently, which would be the most upsetting, as not very people know I am on benefits. I don't know. But the whole thing is bloody stressful, and I think they should a) give you the option of going into their office for an appointment, rather than barging into your house, and b) if they insist on barging into your house they should give you a rough estimate of time, so that if you want someone there as support you can arrange that.

    Thank you for considering me supportive sanabituranima - I always just consider I do the same as anyone else would though. And you have definitely helped me too. So many people I have met through this blog and twitter have been wonderfully supportive of me, and I honestly don't know where I would be without you all.

    xxx

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  4. That is awful about the DWP they are complete incompetent wankers. Sorry but they are. I can understand why you didnt reapply DLA similar to why I'm not appealing being in the Work group for ESA despite them saying I wont be able to go to work even in long term.

    Still considering, I am glad I sent those flowers when I did because seems like they were needed more than ever.I wish I could do more x

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  5. Gah, assholes. I have been having problems with them too - everyone has. I am sorry they are doing that to you <3

    Lovely flowers :) I agree too, I would be lost without the people I've met online. I even met my boyfriend online!

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  6. That's ridiculous they expect you to wait at home the whole day for their phone call. I'm sorry they're making this trouble for you when you haven't done anything wrong.

    The flowers are lovely, I agree that online friendships can be wonderful and supportive. x

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  7. I have had visits from housing benefit / council tax benefit officials in the past when I was off sick from my last job, they would randomly turn up unannounced and ask to see your bank statements / ID and rent agreement. Lucky for me I worked in the HB department so was aware this was routine, still annoying though at the time.

    I’ve just had a new DLA form sent because it says ‘they were concerned about my entitlement’ I suspected someone reported me but I am aware that up North a lot of checks, test, trials are being carried out on people who claim all disability benefits... I think we are playing guinea pigs for when they decide to roll out a new national system. Completely the form sent it back if they want to turn up randomly so be it, I hope they will enjoy trampling over the messy floors, not require anything to drink and for god sake not ask to use the bathroom!

    Do not worry... although I know easier said than done. The least they should do is offer you a time scale of 2 – 3 hours and not expect you to be on edge all day. I suggest you either write to them to explain, although I should imagine that is hard right now when you are as unwell as you have been or beg a friend to be around for the day when they come. If you are not in and they do not know why it is likely they will suspend your benefits, they would not take into account you tried to contact them to no avail. Could you GP not offer a letter of support saying that given your current period of illness ideally B requires a specific time for a visit.

    These people really are a bunch of jumped up wankers...

    BTW, the flowers are lovely.

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  8. Nightmare, am sorry this is happening. I had similar from HB/CTB - whole day waiting for someone to come, who took photos of my documents - made me very paranoid. Was under crisis team at the time and only afterwards did I find out that my mh worker would have contacted them to sort it out and prevent visit. Worth maybe asking L? x

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  9. Beautiful flowers :) And yay to online support! Sorry the DWP are being so entirely shit, I'd think the very least they could do would be give an approximate time. Is there anyway your mum could stay in with you? I know they're being rubbish at the moment but they probably do still want to help.

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  10. I'm sure I read somewhere that they aren't actually allowed to make house-calls like that if you have a mental health condition... but can't find the relevant page because of all the recent news about benefits and cuts etc.

    I think it was something mind put in place, but then again maybe they only tried, and let's not forget that according to the Con-dems we're all claiming fraudulently and the best way to prove is to give us all nervous breakdowns...

    That is ridiculous though, but then if they come in the afternoon and your half asleep then it'd surely count in your favour... the extra stress though is the last thing you need.

    The flowers are lovely.

    Take care,
    Differently

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  11. Sorry again hon, just what you need. I'm sure they won't *hate* you, if that's any consolation, but officious wankers they no doubt are.
    They shouldn't be allowed to do that. Agree, can you ask L or your GP to contact them and at least pin them down to a time?

    Yay lovely flowers, and yay supportive 'madosphere' which I hadn't heard before but is now my new favourite word.

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  12. The flowers are beautiful.

    I think I'd shit myself if I got a letter like that from the DWP. Even when you have nothing to hide it still feels like they are doing everything to catch you out and you worry that you've got something mixed up or made a mistake. I couldn't deal with them just turning up either. Not giving a time frame is unreasonable too. I'd ask if you can meet them at the job centre or something instead? I'm sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else. I hope you can get some support with it - try and get L to stay with you on the day or something.

    Good luck x

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