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

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

  1. Ann Woods

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

  2. K a y e l e m e n o

    this is bril. RT @MargoJMilne: RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/hZmdZ8Kx #spartacusreport #wrb

  3. joanne frank

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

  4. patspetition

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

  5. BendyGirl

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

  6. Rosie

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

  7. Tanya Marlow

    By chance 2day, this from @suey2y http://t.co/73UCW1pK and this from former FT journalist http://t.co/Nv24rBeW This is telling us something

  8. Rosena McKeown

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

  9. Robin

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

  10. Alice in Blunderland

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

  11. JULIE PETRIE

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

  12. anne

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

  13. Claire OT

    By chance 2day, this from @suey2y http://t.co/73UCW1pK and this from former FT journalist http://t.co/Nv24rBeW This is telling us something

  14. Chris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/2oK8JRLu

  15. wbiln

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

  16. Hugo Z. Hackenbush

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  17. nicky clark

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  18. General Korg

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

  19. Leigh James

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  20. Tanya Marlow

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

  21. Judith Jesky

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/zgttvn05

  22. Lilacwheelz

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

  23. Blair A. Miller

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

  24. Rose

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

  25. Louise Bolotin

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

  26. PennyPensham

    Excellently spelled out article about the conflict between being functional, and needing DLA: http://t.co/jC2TeSx6

  27. Kat Dadswell

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/8F4eNODW #spartacusreport

  28. Kirsty Morris

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  29. Neville Farmer

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/8F4eNODW #spartacusreport

  30. Anonymous

    Except if you look at the research, there isn’t 1.5 million extra people who are shot ex soldiers, people with cystic fibrosis surviving for longer, …

    The number of accidents has dropped. The number with industrial accidents has dropped dramatically, because industry has been decimated.

    The only figure that makes a small impact, is that there are now more women in the workforce.

    You haven’t put any numbers to explain why we have had an increase from 1 million to 2.5 million.

    Let me give you the real explanation. Most of them are there because the government changed the rules to get them off unemployment. It started with Thatcher, and Labour carried on.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmworpen/401/40104.htm

    For one link on what is called ‘hidden unemployment’

    If you want a full analysis, peer reviewed etc, try this

    http://www.shu.ac.uk/_assets/pdf/cresr-woib-report-2010.pdf

  31. Anonymous

    Because of course, modern political history/policy started at year zero or 1997! the previous 19 yrs ( or 60 yrs dependent upon your particular gripe) were a socialised utopia. Puhlease!

  32. Alisdair Cameron

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

  33. Nomad

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

  34. Tentacle Sixteen

    "If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your disability, then God help you." http://t.co/IimI7Ouo

  35. Chris Gravell

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  36. The Widge

    "If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your disability, then God help you." http://t.co/IimI7Ouo

  37. Anonymous

    Heaven forfend you should find yourself – through no fault or action of your own- following an accident in need of a wheelchair, in need of help to meet your basic personal care? having a stroke? being mugged and suffering a head injury which leaves you struggling to manage for the next 40 yrs?
    This contempt for the ‘not like you’ demonstrates nothing more than your privilege and your inhumanity.
    I do not wish illness upon you, only that you show willingness to consider that being well is an act of sheer bloody luck and you should be grateful for it. Rather than sneering at those who are not quite as perfect as you – and undermining their attempts to fit into a world designed by the able bodied exclusively for the able bodied.
    How did we get to here, where greed and selfishness became the norm?
    We are not a humane society if your attitude is as prevalent as it seems.

  38. beardless

    "If you demonstrate your ability in the face of your disability, then God help you." http://t.co/IimI7Ouo

  39. carissa hope

    Excellently spelled out article about the conflict between being functional, and needing DLA: http://t.co/jC2TeSx6

  40. hayley

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  41. hayley

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

  42. Dawn Mckenna

    "Are you Disabled? Are you REALLY Disabled?" Great piece on going through the assessment process. Via @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/mxtheNiq

  43. Dawn Mckenna

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

  44. Joanna Sholem

    Article really spells it out.Torn between tears & fury-fuel keep going RT @leftfootfwd:Yes,but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/VtLSZb2O

  45. Dave Denison

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/7XgE8wMs

  46. Raymond Shemilt

    RT @leftfootfwd: Yes, but are you REALLY disabled? http://t.co/h9tQomLa

  47. Deborah Fenney

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

  48. Sarah Campbell

    It is IRRELEVANT whether you use a wheelchair or not. Thousands of wheelchair users are also about to lose their HRM and I can’t understand why articles such as these keep using the caveat “you don’t use a wheelchair”.

    We need to publicise the fact that ANYONE who can’t walk far or fast, whether or not they then use a wheelchair will lose HRM.

    Activity 11, descriptor D identifies “individuals who can use an aid or appliance to move up to 50 metres but then require a wheelchair for anything further.”

    Such people only score 10 points, disqualifying them from enhanced mobility, motability, possibly a blue badge. So anyone who can move from 0-50m with crutches, a walking stick or a zimmer frame but then needs a wheelchair also no longer qualifies for HRM.

  49. Anonymous

    My nearest bus stop is 30 yards away – it’s still too far. I’ve been disabled all my life, seriously so for 27 years, claimed disability benefits for 26, and currently suffer from one life-shortening condition and and a pair which are inevitably fatal, and probably quite soon. Walking the 12 paces to the bathroom exhausts me.

    However, were I to have my DLA entitlement reassessed, I have little doubt that there’s a very good chance Atos would find against me.

    And Atos, despicable though they are, are not the real villains in this – IDS and the DWP are, not to mention Cameron, whose hatred of the sick and disabled is arguably insane.

    Let’s not forget, though, that Freud and Purnell, under Labour, kicked off the anti-disabled lie-fest – IDS simply ramped it up, producing a lie-factory and propaganda machine that would have had Goebbels wetting himself with envy.

  50. hindle-a

    This is where to me the “implementation team” show their little or no knowledge of the practicalities of daily living .It has to be changed surely.

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