Friday, 17 July 2009

Demonic Laughter Accessory

Well that's what I'd call it if I had a sense of humour left. My D (isabled) L(iving) A(llowance) form has been sitting on my worktop for over 3 months now. So I decided to fill it in, online because holding a pen is a no-no these days.

For anyone remotely interested, D L A is an allowance given to successful claimants who are disabled. But only those adept at skirting potholes, with infinite patience, and with the strength to pick up the 40-page claim form. It's not financial assistance to help you pay for someone to do those things you can't do for yourself; it's to help someone stay with you while you do the cooking, cleaning, ironing and whatever else takes your fancy for yourself. Extremely liberating to have independence as the underlying principle behind a state benefit. There aren't many; in today's culture of assuming that anyone claiming any kind of benefit must be doing so under false credentials, or as a basic form of fraud, a message constantly blasted into our homes by the media and government policy, it's actually taking a fair bit of guts to admit that actually, I'm entitled to this allowance, and claim legitimately for it.

Do I sound bitter and twisted? Many online friends of mine, some bed-bound, some with obvious and crippling disabilities reliant on wheelchairs, some mobile with invisible disabilities, but all with legitimate claims on the face of it, have had to jump through proverbial government hoops to get this allowance. They only succeed after being turned down, going through a long-winded, incredibly stressful, highly undignified process of appeal; being poked and prodded by a government-paid doctor with a quota of failing applicants to meet; before finally having to attend a tribunal of complete strangers who thank whatever providence does exist are blessed with that fragile and rare commodity, Common Sense. But how frustrating, degrading, insane, is it to have to go through such a circus. They aren't going to grow their limbs back; not have their M S cured; or have other lifelong disabilities vanish because the D W P says so.

Me, I've been lucky so far. I moan about the fact that my awards are annual, instead of every 3 years like most other folks, but at least I get some support and recognition of my mobility problems. I can't hold a pen; so only have to spend approx 70 hours or so on a final draft of the form. Then when, as it habitually does, the govt website fails, and the form arrives back on my desktop blank for the third time running, and won't accept cut-and-paste answers with any form of punctuation, well it's a relatively minor frustration. Provided, of course, that the powers that be decide that my arthritis and fibro haven't been miraculously cured too...

Don't worry. There won't be many posts like this. Life is just too short, funny, sad, revolting, and interesting for that.

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