Yes, but are you REALLY disabled?

Ann Milnes Roberts attempts to explain the lives behind the DLA cuts.

 

Ann Milnes Roberts is the former editor of the Financial Times: Global Water Report

“How disabled are you? Are you really disabled?  You’ll have to be beyond hope if you want any charity from us. Now let’s watch you jump through our hoops.”

Outside in the world, you think you are coping well. You don’t feel sorry for yourself. Stuff happens.

But you’ve managed to pay your way, hold down a job and care for your children, live what the world might see as a successful life.

About twenty years ago, your doctor mentioned that you’d probably qualify for disability living allowance. You’d never received a state benefit in your life. You fill in the forms, and are happy to receive the allowance.

You don’t use a wheelchair, but can’t walk far, or fast, and can’t manage escalators or stairs.

In London, the free public transport card won’t work for a Scot. You live in Scotland, but can’t take the train, as the seats are too upright. You drive the 350 miles, so that you can stop and move around every hour.

Though all these years, your Motability-acquired car has meant that you are operating on a slightly more level playing field.

Your car is essential. Without it, the mile-long walk to the nearest bus stop would put the world out of bounds. You could afford to pay for your own car. You’ve worked all your life. But isn’t the DLA supposed to be non-means tested? Didn’t David Cameron claim DLA for his disabled son?

But now you’ve been called for an assessment, to see whether you’ve been cheating all these years. The cold letter ‘invites’ you to attend.

But it also contains a threat:

“If you fail to attend, your benefit may be affected.”

So you struggle to their office.

Pride, dignity, hope: Abandon them at the door. No-one here cares about anything but the best method of rejecting your claim. In this place, you’ll be made to feel bad about yourself.

You’ll leave with the word “loser” imprinted on your brain whether you convince them or not of your need for their “help.”

All these years you’ve played a kind of confidence trick. That’s right, a confidence trick.

But this trick was to show all your friends, employers and family – and even yourself – that you could manage as well as they could in the game of life. You might hobble along, crab-like, inch-by inch, wobble, wobble. But you could hold down a high-flying job, struggle on and off planes, get to meetings on time.

You’d earned a good salary, paid your taxes. The DLA was not means tested. You could use it to help lease a car, pay for a cleaner, a taxi, a slightly larger, more comfortable vehicle – anything that would help you take part in the world. You feel pretty confident you’ve made a good shot at it all – after all, the disability is not who I am, is it?

But here you are, in this room, with this bureaucrat.

If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your disability, then God help you. Because by showing that you can take part in the world, you’ll be banned from the world.

No DLA, no Motability, no car, no life. This heartless, calculating, cruel Conservative government has managed a clever trick, backed up by the right-wing press. In spite of fraud accounting for less than half a per cent of all claims, we’re regaled with tales of ice-skating cripples, disabled ballroom dancing champions bent on cheating the system.

Stop it. Stop it now. People are kinder, more honest, better than you think. The public don’t think we’re all scoungers, in spite of your best efforts. Look for a more popular enemy. Perhaps you could target those rich people who aren’t paying their taxes? Just a thought….

See also:

Why did DWP delay releasing new data until after welfare reform bill cleared Commons? – Daniel Elton, August 12th 2011

DWP admits disability reform based on dodgy figures, as reported by Left Foot Forward – Declan Gaffney, August 11th 2011

‘Simplification’ leads to severely disabled young people’s benefits being cut – Nicola Smith, February 18th 2011

Government plans to cut DLA could cause extreme hardship – Sue Marsh, January 24th 2011

Charities urge rethink on DLA mobility allowance cuts – Sarah Ismail, January 12th 2011

145 Responses to “Yes, but are you REALLY disabled?”

  1. Newsbot9

    There’s a simple explanation. (several, actually)

    Firstly, people are being kept alive. I know, that terrible NHS you want abolished.
    Second, DLA provision was expanded because it saved money. Because otherwise they ended up in institutional care, which is far more expensive. Wait, you’re against that too.

    The real “fraud” is that people like you who spout hatred against the disabled are allowed to keep doing it.

  2. Newsbot9

    Assessing “what people need” and tracking millions of 1-100 scales will be FAR more expensive than the current system. It would need TWO hordes of people.

    The real poverty industry is the capitalism you peddle. The industry of misery.

  3. hindle-a

    Thirdly,which the Government keeps quiet about is that over 800,000 pensioners receive it,not(at the moment) being moved to PIP.The reform conveniently negates case law(such as the Mobility component being payable to carehome residents it tried to remove) and will NOT save money merely transfer it to the private assessors,increased NHS and SS,hence thier attempts to remove legal rights as the tribunal costs will also exponentially increase as people(yet again) endeavour to fight for their entitlements and the case law is built up again and then in twenty years time the whole farce begins again as PIP is “out of date”-well you know the rest.

  4. Clive Arnold

    You are using 10 year old Incapacity Benefit levels in your claim yetwhen using the government’s own data, currently 1.8 million people of working age claim some form of DLA (it comes in two components, care and mobility), which rises to 3 million claimants if the under 16s and the over 65s are included. And DLA is the benefit mentioned here not the old and scrapped Incapacity Benefit.

  5. Bill kruse

    Disability has rocketed as our ability to diagnose has improved. People who years ago simply would have been thought of as weird or incompetent are now recognised as having various forms of illness. These people were always there and were always ill, we’ve just got better lately at diagnosing them that’s all.

  6. Ann Milnes

    Thank you. I’m afraid we’re simply the easy, low-hanging fruit. Unless we make a horrible, embarassing fuss, we’re just collateral damage. Perhaps we shouldn’t go down without a fight?

  7. louise b stark

    blog that needs to be read IF YOU CARE? RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/F3YnSjYl

  8. Carol Ann Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/jqGFAHxE

  9. Clare Jordan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/nRp0tKzR

  10. Louise

    Oh yes. And try supporting someone with severe learning disabilities in any sort of assessment. Instead of being able to celebrate their achievements, you suddenly find the only responsible thing to do is to go on and on and on about all they CAN’T do……. which is the most confidence-shattering thing I can think of.

  11. AmyLouise Hudd

    right! im annoyed, my daughter has severe spina bifida uses a wheelchair and has what is seen to be a life threatening ilness she is only 2 nearly 3 years old and i have only just got used to this dla etc lark now im worried its going to be taken away, i cannot work i just cant i get made to feel like a scrounger whenever i have trusted people to take medical care of my daughter’s needs it has gone horribly wrong she needs me to look after her 24/7 and i should feel threatened or like im scrounging i am only 22 and i worked since school until i found out at 20weeks pregnant i was having a disabled child i have dreams and aspirations and ambitions i want to go to college i want to study so many things and be so many things, but now im a MUM and that means cook cleaner washer ironer maid and doctor/nurse i have given up so much to be the best mum i can at such a young age for my beautiful daughter and now my 1 year old son also and willingly but il be damned if this 1 thing between us having a roof over our heads and practically living in a bloody box is going to be taken away! she is also starting a machine therapy for her may being able to walk will this have to affect her benefit shes still in constant pain!! makes me soooo angry i could rant constantly about the lack of support and understanding and seperation of benefit fraud and seriously disabled people. my nan cant walk 100 yards some days shes in constant pain she doesnt receive a single benefit shes been waiting 2years+ for spine treatment so she can walk to the bus stop and back she is practically house bound and yet no help for her. WHEN DO WE START TO STICK UP FOR US THAT ACTUALLY ARE IN NEED OF THIS EXTRA HELP? NOW!!!!

  12. sharon taylor

    i would like to add to all this,i look ok but i have severe crohns,witch has caused even more problems,i have stopped going out now because of the looks the laughs ,when i need go to clinic or doctors i have to starve my self to even make an apointment,i have incontinence through this illnes and am on 32 tablets a day dont sleep in the night even with sleepers always high on co codamol and tremadol ,i would actually like to ask the goverment face to face if i was you how would you feel ,loosing your job operation after operation,loosing friends dignaty and in pain every day of your life ,but because they might not have seen people like me they think they arnt disabled,well get me a job who will accept me druged up in pain days off all the time ,i claim for care and now its gonna be taken so it will be the end for me 🙁

  13. liane gomersall

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/iRToJhtI Excellent account of what could happen to us #spartacus report

  14. Simon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/4tCCC10G

  15. TheCreativeCrip

    A humorous blog that makes some serious points! How disabled do you have to be?#in http://t.co/TsRnpvoO

  16. sean bastable

    A humorous blog that makes some serious points! How disabled do you have to be?#in http://t.co/TsRnpvoO

  17. Joanna Sholem

    'If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your disability, then God help you' Brilliant post http://t.co/ymFzkiX6 #wrb #mhuk

  18. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/wej1K60F by Ann Milnes Roberts

  19. Clive Arnold

    Sorry, your reply is to me or Lord Blagger?

  20. Milky Onions

    If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your #disability, then God help you: http://t.co/cpJi0Ckh #WRB #ATOS

  21. Virginia Moffatt

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/psheEDTg #spartacusreport

  22. Les Tricoteuses

    Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/dgk2SjUS

  23. Les Tricoteuses

    Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/AETT16Si

  24. gail ward

    Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/1PHNuW1c

  25. Melissa Chapin

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? FANTASTIC piece!! http://t.co/PhON7dF3

  26. Marcus A. Roberts

    Delighted most read article on @leftfootfwd is @annmilnes1 debut blog http://t.co/A7Tc9h36 'Yes but are you really disabled' #worldsbestMum

  27. Rachel Megan Barker

    Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/wej1K60F by Ann Milnes Roberts

  28. Bern O'Donoghue

    See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/RkrfSrUr #pmqs #wrb

  29. John Jackson

    See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/RkrfSrUr #pmqs #wrb

  30. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/ft5p0JDM #wrb #spartacusreport #nhs #democracy

  31. Foxy52

    See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/RkrfSrUr #pmqs #wrb

  32. Foxy52

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/ft5p0JDM #wrb #spartacusreport #nhs #democracy

  33. Thomas Hemingford

    “@leftfootfwd: See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/BIKl2EYG #pmqs #wrb”

  34. Kirst

    “@leftfootfwd: See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/BIKl2EYG #pmqs #wrb”

  35. H

    “@leftfootfwd: See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/BIKl2EYG #pmqs #wrb”

  36. Just Me

    “@leftfootfwd: See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/BIKl2EYG #pmqs #wrb”

  37. Deborah Ruston

    “@leftfootfwd: See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/BIKl2EYG #pmqs #wrb”

  38. Nick H.

    See how the government's welfare reform will be hitting some of the most vulnerable here: http://t.co/RkrfSrUr #pmqs #wrb

  39. osteogenesis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/44Dm86YJ

  40. Bern O'Donoghue

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/turwgSJh

  41. Catherine Geldart

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/turwgSJh

  42. AmyKavanagh

    very good points made about the ability of disability http://t.co/bMflkTBl

  43. Kevin Richards

    More evidence that the poor and vulnerable are being targeted RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/AHFwsezB

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