First post – losing disability appeal

Apparently, if there’s anything this lupie does well, it’s procrastination! I set up most of this blog months ago, along with companion Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages, did most of the coding, and yet never posted anything, thinking “I’d rather get it all set up first”.

As I lost my disability appeal last week, I wanted to write about it before I forget the details! I wasn’t expecting to be approved, as in the UK right now, many many people worse than me are being rejected for disability. I had a welfare rights worker with me from my local council.

The process itself was more informal than I expected, even though they did record it. In hindsight, I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been, and my welfare worker thought I was holding back, especially when before we went into the tribunal room, I told her I had relapsed with self-harming; she hadn’t heard about it before! So unfortunately, so used to downplaying my symptoms as I am, I didn’t really fight hard enough. I am reapplying, and will get help filling in my claim form by Citizens’ Advice, and if I come to appeal again, I’m going to be more forceful, I think. The tribunal didn’t really ask as in depth as I expected, but I could have been prepared with what to say when they asked if I have anything to add.

Here, there are two aspects to disability, care and mobility. Crazily enough, I couldn’t apply for mobility, as I’m not bad enough for the high rate, and apparently the low rate is more for people who have mental health issues with mobility, not being able to go out on their own or to new places, for example. So there’s no midway between perfectly physically healthy and the high rate! What I need more than the money is the various travel passes, i.e. the blue badge for parking, a bus pass for free travel, etc. However, these are only automatically awarded with high rate mobility. I will have to go through my occupational therapist about the blue badge, apparently. I was going for low care in the appeal, with the welfare worker saying this could go toward my bus fares.

I expected to be rejected, so it wasn’t too surprising. In many ways, I’m glad, so I can make a fresh start with the claim, as the appeal was not allowed to look at anything in between my claim over a year ago and the appeal date. By getting the help from Citizens’ Advice, I should be able to fill out the new form with the information they are looking for, and maximize my chances. Luckily, I’m o.k. with money at the moment; I have a bit of savings left, and I receive Employment and Support Allowance; next month I see a work adviser to see about getting me into work/continuing education at a pace I can manage.

Unfortunately, a negative experience while applying for disability for an invisible illness is common, and in my lupus support groups, I hear mostly rejections. But I won’t stop applying! It can be stressful, but recently I heard of someone getting an award after two and a half years of appealing. Never give up! I think they hope that people will simply back down after an unsuccessful attempt. Prove them wrong! 🙂

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