Good(ish) news – the process of forcing all those claiming Disability Living Allowance DLA) to undertake new assessments in order to be eligible for the new benefit, Personal Independence Payments (PIP) has been slowed down. Esther McVey, a works and pensions minister has confirmed that all those with an indefinite award will not be reassessed until October 2015 at the earliest, after the next general election (read more about this here).
Most MSers claiming DLA have indefinite awards. Unless the Department for Work and Pensions knows something we don’t, MS lasts for life. So why reassess people with MS at all? It is a degenerative neurological illness and it is not, as yet, reversible. There are thousands of people who fear that losing this benefit will have a devastating impact on their lives. Having the higher rate of mobility allowance also automatically makes you eligible for the Motability scheme and a blue badge, so if people were to lose their benefit, or have them downgraded, they would also lose these components.
Is this what the government wants? To shove disabled people back into their homes, without means to live independently, travel independently and take part in society? A lot of us MSers work, study and contribute, despite the problems MS brings and we are proud to do so. I have friends who tell me that their DLA means the difference between just about surviving and sinking way below the poverty line.
Having a disability like MS brings extra, often unforeseen costs, so the revised timetable is good news. The MS Society and many other pressure groups are urging the government to look again at the need to reassess MSers. 63,000 people with MS, an irreversible condition, claim DLA. But then so do 21,000 people with drug and alcohol problems. Go figure…