Saturday, 20 May 2017

PIP ain't What You Say

It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it,
It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it,
It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it,
And that's what gets results.

Remember this song?  Banarama?  oh go on you do, or maybe i'm ageing myself here.  i dare you to click the link and have a little listen.   i DOUBLE dare you to play it just before you want to go to sleep tonight. No?  OK, i wouldn't either.   it's one of those tunes that goes round and round and round the head all night like a herd of monotonously, bleating sheep mocking your sleeplessness. Why did such an inane, piece of anti-music from thirty five years ago insinuate itself into my head you may ask?  well, weirdly, you can blame the DWP's disability benefit PIP for this momentary culture lapse.
Application for Personal Independence Payment, AKA PIP, hinges on a thirty four page questionnaire comprised of multiple choice questions, each one needing a full explanation of how an aspect of disability affects every day life with a justification of the answer by making reference to hospital, physio, occupational therapist, social care, G.P. etc.  the guidelines from Citizens Advice came in at FIFTY SHEETS of A4 paper. can you imagine the time and expense if you have to use a public library for internet and printing?  by spending an hour or more a day it took me three weeks to complete to my satisfaction and i still spent the nights after it had been posted thinking of what had been left out.   How well this opus is crafted has a huge bearing on the success or otherwise of a person's claim as the face to face part of the assessment is built on this foundation.   the assessor doesn't know the relevant questions to ask or the appropriate healthcare person to contact if it's not in the form.
Despite a great gap in schooling whilst a child in hospital leading to an abysmal knowledge of grammar and punctuation, a lifetime reading while others were out playing has given me a reasonable ability to put thoughts down on paper, so though i found the PIP forms daunting i think i was able to give a fair representation of the difficulties disability causes me by constantly singing to myself  "PIP ain't what you say it's the way that you say it, that's what gets results"  with every flourish of the pen.  but what if i had a learning difficulty, or suffered severe anxiety, or had attended a troubled school with a large number of disruptive pupils who made learning a mountain to be scaled?  what of those who don't have a supportive and encouraging friendship circle like mine to keep the spirits high, share the trepidation of losing vital support and open all those brown envelopes that i was afraid to approach when they landed with an ominous, cryptal thunk on the door mat ? (a HUGE thank you to all of you)  these are the people you read about who are finding themselves adrift in a system that is supposed to assess disability but ends up making that life sustaining judgement on intellectual ability.

Me ?? i used a mix of Citizens Advice guide notes and Fightback4justice online. without them it's doubtful the result would have been so positive, high level mobility and high level care for TEN YEARS !!!  the body may be reliant on a wheelchair but the spirit is flying high.  At some point during a long and sociable life it's inevitable that you will come face to face with disability or chronic illness whether personally or via close contact with a friend, neighbour or family member mired in the turmoil of health turned hostile. like a good gender neutral scout it's best to "be prepared" and aware of the pitfalls of trying to apply without backup. the two online groups above are an excellent source of information and for a nominal monthly charge give access to examples of well filled in forms, advice and support. may i suggest that unless you have a reliable crystal ball to reassure you that your future doesn't involve brokenness of mind or body that you add them to your address book, who might need them one day.


lorraine said...

Excellent news and rightly so. Well put in your blog. Its terrifying that people can go without vital assistance just because they don't (for all the reasons you mention) get the form filled in. x

dan said...

So pleased Jeni, I know how important this is, and what a blow it would have been if it was refused.

billie said...

Fabulous news, but you shouldn't have had to go through it all.

sue said...

This is so well put and I'm so happy with you and for you.
An excellent victory xx

Kathy said...

So glad you got such a great result. But yes, I take your point, it has become all about intellectual ability to fill in the forms. Crazy, and totally unfair.