I May be Some Time...

Having now been looking for work opportunities for a while, something has finally come my way. It is a voluntary position at a local publishing company, and would seem to be exactly what I have been looking for in that it is something different to my usual work in mental health and would also make use of the qualifications and skills I have. As some of you who read this blog will know, for instance, I had a book of my poetry published back in 2004.
However, there is a dark spectre hanging over me at the moment in terms of the benefits I currently receive. I was recently sent the form regarding my reassessment for Incapacity Benefit, which is being changed to Employment and Support Allowance. The fact that I am able to do voluntary work, I think, may go against me in my reassessment. The form contains such questions as, "can you lift a litre of milk using one hand?", and "can you set an alarm clock?" Hardly demanding tasks. For someone who seems to have a high level of functionality, and yet has a diagnosis of a severe mental illness, there appears to be little on the form that I can in all honesty say that I cannot do. This does not, however, to me, mean that I should be automatically put onto Jobseeker's Allowance. After spending sixteen years under the care of mental health services, and about eighteen out of paid employment, I do not feel that being dumped onto a benefit that will perhaps lead to more stress and anxiety will be in any way beneficial for me. Far better, I think, would be for me to be put onto ESA in the category which gives you support in finding work. But how do I get this across to the DWP when the form I've been provided with doesn't cover many of the issues with which I am faced?
So, many changes to my life are currently underway, and such has been my preoccupation with these, that I have been rather lapse on the blogging front. No doubt I'll be back to tell you how this all goes, but for now I'll just have to say that I may be some time...

Comments

Dixie said…
Hi David,
It appears that this assessment covers the physical, not the mental, aspects of limitations. Think this through by evaluating how stress affects you physically. You might also want a physical assessment from your councilor or physician accompany this form. Is there a section that says you can additional information? Sum: how does the mental affect the physical for you?

When I'm under stress my physical and mental collide and things are worse for me. Having a regular paying job has more stress, I think, than volunteer work because one's livelihood depends upon it.

Physically one might experience a lack of focus with the mental which certainly affects the physical.

I might be repeating myself and I hope you get the jist of what I mean.
Sincerely and best of luck,
Dixie
klahanie said…
Dear David,

Of course, I understand the confusing and dilemma ridden situation you now find yourself rather unfairly placed in.

And our good friend, Dixie, makes some noteworthy points. This form should be alluding to your capabilities based on your mental health concerns and not your physical abilities. I know when I went for an actual test under the old Incapacity Benefit system, I was only tested on my mental stability and my physical ability did not come into the equation. This new form for ESA should be focusing strictly on your mental health concerns.

I shall call you soon to discuss your concerns and see what we can ascertain. I completely understand how this impacts your blogging. It is an outrage that it has come to this.

With care and concern, your way, Gary
David said…
Dear Dixie,
I do get the jist of what you mean, and the form does ask about one's mental state (perhaps that doesn't come over in my post). It's just that the questions they ask seem to aimed at someone who has a very low level of functionality, whereas I have quite a high level. I've recently been told that my diagnosis may not be entirely accurate, and that what I may actually have is schizo-affective disorder, which would, apparently, account for my ability to function at a higher level.
Anyway, Dixie, you raise important points, and I thank you sincerely for your concern.
Very Best Wishes, your way,
David.
David said…
Dear Gary,
As I have said to Dixie above, the form does ask about one's mental state, although it seems to be pitched at those with a very low level of functionality. I can only hope that what I've written (I've now posted the form off together with a supporting letter from my care co-ordinator) will see me through!
I look forward to hearing from you, Gare, when we can discuss this further.
Very Best Wishes, your way,
David.
bazza said…
Hello David. Good luck with that new position. Perhaps it can be seen as a stepping stone to something that pays you for your hard work.
I understand that volunteering is looked on favourably when it's on ones CV.
It would be a waste if someone of your abilities were not able to contribute to society.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
Lost in Space said…
I hope the volunteering works out for you. And good luck with the reassessment.

My experience (though slightly different but I hope it helps) is that I told the disability person at my local Job Centre that I am studying part time and she said that it wouldn't affect my benefits. Though this is somebody who has been assigned to me since going on ESA, rather than the people who look at the forms we send in.
David said…
Hi bazza,
It was my first day today at the new job. It went OK, and they want to train me in indexing. There's a lot to learn, but, as you say, it would be a waste if I couldn't use some of my abilities to contribute in some way.
Thanks, bazza.
Very Best Wishes,
David.
David said…
Dear Lost in Space,
It's good that you are studying, and what's more, that it won't affect your benefits. I hope for a similar outcome!
Always nice to have you comment.
Very Best Wishes,
David.

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