DWP. Brown envelopes.
Guaranteed to make any person with MS angry and anxious.
Since receiving Disability Living Allowance when I was diagnosed with MS, I now have to move to a Personal Independence Payment (which sounds enticingly exciting and intrepid?).
Well, it’s as far from independence as I can fathom.
My own personal case to one side (one I am prepared to fight, and fight hard if necessary), let me just ask, ‘Is MS Curable?’ The DWP seems to think so. For every person who has been or is still on a lifetime award with DLA (and rightly so), you now have to prove you have MS?
MS. Is. Incurable. Incurable.
Why on earth should we have to prove MS is … incurable?
Disability is great at making us invisible. We stay at home, through illness, relapses and fatigue. When we do go out, we are faced with hostility and abuse. How dare you have a blue badge? Move out the way, you’re slowing me down. You’re not working as hard as you should.
And this is the epitome of rendering us utterly out of sight (where we should be?), stuck at home, beset by social isolation and ever-increasing disability. Well done, DWP.
I live alone, now The Teenager is at University. Of course, all my child-related benefits have gone. However, as any parent with Uni-aged children know, you don’t suddenly stop paying anything at all towards their upkeep. Plus, University is 30 weeks of the year. The other 20 are invariably spent Chez Parent (in my case, the only parent, my ex-husband not being in the picture for this). The expense, in part, remains.
And you cross that hurdle. And as the only person in the household, you trim your cloth according to your means. You adjust to a vastly reduced income, despite vaguely similar outgoings.
And then they come for you. The payments that made it possible to stay in work, to pay for help around the house. And now all that could disappear.
I’ve done the maths. My weekly disposable income with The Teenager at University is embarrassingly low. If I lose my disability payments, I will be in Minus Living.
What sticks in my gut with this whole thing is that I have worked my entire life, fought off a workplace discrimination case, started work at a new job and am still working. A job that fits around my MS, so-called ‘good-days’ and the utterly horrendous days, not forgetting the Can’t Function At All Days.
At this moment in time, I have been brought down so low, it’s hard to know how to come back up again. I could lose my house.
And I really thought I would be rewarded by trying, by dragging myself out of bed day after day after day, all these years. By pushing myself to do things I would not have attempted previously.
There’s the nub. I should give up work. I should accept I have no other wage coming in. I won’t be able to live independently. And maybe I would Shut Up. And disappear.
D is for Diabolical Discrimination.
W is for Why are you doing this?
P is for Please, give me a break?