I have a lot of time for Martin Lewis of Money Savings Expert, for his advice on consumer finance and his annual debt advice booklet for people suffering with mental health illness.
He is also the face of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, based in London UK. I am proud to contribute to their research by being a member of the research community. This involves completing online questionnaires and surveys from time to time. There is no obligation to complete all surveys and there is also an opportunity to partake in online discussion groups.
I had been receiving DLA and then PIP for the past 5 years or so, because of my mental health and Ulcerative Colitis. Following a mid award review which started in August 2017 and a medical assessment by Capita in November 2017, my PIP award ended on the 11th December 2017.
I have been reflecting on this a lot over the past 6 months. Financially the impact was significant, as it meant I also lost my Tax Credits award from the 11th December, and any day I expect a bill for £500 over payment following the year end tax credit review.
I have been receiving PIP for a few years and was asked in the Summer to confirm my current health situation by submitting a medical questionnaire form back to DWP. I think I may have blogged about my quandary and in the end I confirmed that my ability to dress and bathe had improved. I then had an anxious couple of months waiting to hear further from the DWP. Then I was asked to attend a medical assessment with Capita on the 10th of November.
I attended a DWP Medical Assessment with Capita in Northampton following a review for being submitted in August.
During the Assessment the assessor said that she was not there to advise but she thought I should go back and see my GP.
Having talked about my illness with the assessor I have realised that my anxiety has got worse. I can separate my mental health illness into three areas Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) , Social Anxiety and Depression.
I thought I would share with you what I have learnt about the financial help that is available to those with a disability. This blog is based on my experience of claiming benefits and getting financial help as I have a long term ill health in the form of a mental illness and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I have linked the benefit types to relevant part of disability benefits on GOV.UK website
I last posted about my experience of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the replacement for DLA in June 2014, so I am well overdue to update you on my experience. My last post got me to the stage of the process of having completed the anxiety inducing medical assessment on the 22nd May 2014
So I received a letter from the DWP dated the 10th June, which helpfully told me that they now had all the information they needed and would be in touch again soon.
On the 7th July 2014, 6 months after I returned the application paperwork I had a decision from the DWP on my PIP application. Thankfully they agreed to Personal Independence Payment to help support me financially.
Having finally got the process completed, I have extremely mixed emotions:
8th November 2014
I thought I would share my experience so far of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
I have been receiving Disabled Living Allowance (DLA) for the past two years and renewal was due in May 2014. So in January I received a letter from the DWP asking if I wanted to claim and switch to PIP the replacement for DLA as my current DLA was due to expire.
So I telephoned the DWP and confirmed I wished to apply for PIP and they subsequently sent me a claim form for completion. The lady on the phone indicated that I would be asked to do a medical assessment within about 4 to 5 weeks after they received the submitted claim form.
I would acknowledge that the claim form was much more geared towards Mental Health illness, but was as I had been warned a comprehensive 40 odd page form. Completing it didn’t help my illness as I want to focus on the positives and don't find much benefit in dwelling on what I can not do, which is what the form is looking for. Anyway I completed the form and then went through it with a support worker from my local Mind in Rushden. The form was then returned to the DWP for the 6th February 2014 deadline.
The 5 weeks passed without hearing anything, so I plucked up the courage to phone DWP and check progress, also mindful of the fact that my existing claim for DLA expired in mid May. The helpful man from DWP advised me that it could take anything up to 15 to 20 WEEKS before I would hear about an assessment and that I should phone again close to the end date of my DLA claim and it would probably be extended.
So we got to May, 3 months after I submitted the claim and I called DWP again, they confirmed that my DLA claim had been extended to November, to allow time for the PIP claim to be processed.
Now, let’s pause for a moment and I will try and explain how this has affected me. Firstly completing the form and identifying and recording what I can NOT do, such as go out on my own, remember to take medication, wash and change clothes and cope with people generally, had a negative impact on my thinking and well being. Secondly I feel guilt and doubt about claiming for PIP because of the demonising of benefit claimants by the Government and media. Thirdly and perhaps most significantly the waiting for contact from DWP is constantly on my mind and fueling my anxiety. No matter how much I tell myself that all is fine and things will happen whether I worry about it or not, I can not get it of my mind.
Then mid May I got a telephone call from Capita the agency carry out the medical assessments on behalf of DWP and they arranged an appointment for the next day, as they had a cancellation. The appointment was for 9.30 and would happen at my home. I thought that it was good that it was such short notice and early in the day so I could try and minimise my anxiety over the appointment. Following a night of little sleep, I was up early in anticipation of the appointment and slowly my anxiety built. Unfortunately an hour and half after the appointment no one had arrived and my anxiety was out of control. My wife phoned to see what was happening and after they checked Capita said the person was of sick and would not be coming. Then I suffered a panic/anxiety attack and broke down, two days in bed were needed before I could face things again.
A second appointment was made for the end of the following week, so I had to go through the anxiety building and constant overwhelming thoughts and worry, (“needlessly” I would tell myself to no avail), until the next appointment.
The man was an hour late, but did keep us advised. The assessment itself was fine, just an hour of questions about my typical day and what help I needed and why I couldn’t do things.
So now it is done - I have mixed emotions: I am relived it is over, cross with myself and even shocked at the reaction I had to the events and now trying to focus again on the positives and move forward.
I do think the process has stalled my recovery for 6 months, the constant worry and anxiety of the process, coupled with the need to focus on the negatives held me back and I noticed that I was trying less to do things, to push myself, avoiding everything, as though I needed to emphasise my illness.
I have noticed I am not even thinking about the awaited decision that much, which is good because it is all out of my control for now.
What an unhelpful and protracted experience for mental health sufferers!
If you are on certain benefits including ESA income based on the 20th July 2013, you can qualify for a £135 discount on your electricity bill for the winter of 2013/2014. Government website link is here. You have to make an application direct to your supplier. Find out more at your energy suppliers website - EDF Support Plus link here
12th June 2013
Hi, moneys getting tight for us as well as many many other households. I must admit I am a keen fan of Lidl's and my distrust and hate of Tesco's grows every day, but lots not go there today.
Many purpose of this blog is that I wanted to check my own benefits entitlement as we have had a few changes. I used the government one - Benefits Adviser which i found poor as it didn't touch on DLA or CA. But then found via my trusty pal, Martin Lewis entitledto, which i found was great to use and you could enter different scenerios and see what the effect was on most benefits. So if you need a to check your benefit entitlement, I suggest entitledto
By the way, having worked solidly for 30 years and paid a fortune in tax, 'entitled to' is what I and the majority of others are, when it comes to the benefit system.
6th June 2013
My Anxiety was asked: 'My friends have a middle aged son with mental health illnesses who can no longer work, what financial help & support is available for him? He is struggling more and we are getting older and are worried about him now and when we are gone'
The first step is for him to acknowledge that he is ill and go to his GP for help.
For mental illnesses the GP may treat the illness in terms of medication and/or therapy at the primary care level, or they may refer the person to secondary care and the mental health team for medication and therapy. He will need a medical certificate if he wants to claim sickness benefits.
Once you have a medical certificate and there is medical evidence/records of an illness he could submit a claim for Employment Support Allowance , which is managed by the Department of Work and Pensions, like Jobsseekers Allowance.
If the initial application satisfies the DWP they will make payments whilst they investigate and you attend a medical. If the person does not fully acknowledge their illness and discuss it openly they will NOT pass the medical. See my recent blog on Atos Medical
Following the medical the DWP will write to advise whether their application has been accepted and how long before a review is required (6 to 24 months)
Link to ESA claim details: https://www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/overview
If someone is successful with an ESA application they may want to consider a Disabled Living Allowance which comprises of a care element and a support element.
Link to DLA Claim: https://www.gov.uk/dla-disability-living-allowance-benefit
Details of the benefits available for people who are ill can be found at my benefits post, click on each of the tittles to access more information from government websites.
To help matters the government is changing both the ESA and DLA benefits at the moment.
To be blunt if the person is not able to acknowledge their illness and seek and engage in medication and therapy treatment - then the benefits system is likely to fail them completely.
More help can also be found at http://www.mind.org.uk/ and http://www.sane.org.uk/
18th March 2013
BT offer a reduced line rental package, called BT basics for those of certain means tested benefits, including Employment Support Allowance (income based). £14.85 a quarter instead of £15 per month !
Link here to BT Basics
1st January 2013
Having been diagnosed 3 years ago with anxiety and depression and been trying to recover since, the DWP ATOS Medical is something I dread and has a massive negative impact on my mental health and recovery.............
The following benefits are available for those suffering from Anxiety, Depression and IBD, depending on individual circumstances. Click the item for relevant link to external site
Search for related blog posts using the search function or 'Categories' or 'Archives' sections below.
Some posts have a 'read more' link which will open the full post.