For the past 4-6 months (a perfect example right here of how good my memory is) I have been signed onto ESA. Employment and Support Allowance which can also be very briefly explained as disability allowance for those who are not permanently disabled. They pay around about the same as JSA which is not enough to live on but just enough to survive. Anyway, as you would expect for a benefit like this, you are required to attend a medical assessment. If you have physical problems, there are a series of tests, can you walk short distances, can you reach your hands above your head, can you use small objects such as a pen or pencil etc. But how can you tell how capable a person with metal difficulties is. I, myself, fall under this category having Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, or so my psychotherapist says, I call it not being able to cope with everyday situations. So after submitting a written questionnaire weeks ago, I am subjected to a verbal questionnaire that apparently boils down to seven questions (I'll get to this in a minute.) I took Stu with me for emotional support, I was so nervous I was physically twitching during the whole process. I was asked question after question most of which began with 'how would you react if'. When it was over I asked how long before I heard anything. She said "I don't know, I just write down your answers and send them off." Thanks, you've been a great help. I waited for days and then forgot about it. Then for some reason, I suddenly remembered that I'm supposed to be awaiting this decision and I get anxious again. It arrived the next day. "We cannot pay you Employment and Support Allowance from 14 June 2011" "...after attending a medical assessment it has been decided you do not have any limited capability for work" "We will send you a separate letter explaining the full reasons..." crap. I have to admit, I hadn't thought for a second that this would happen. I thought my mental issues were so obvious that it would be a simple formality. I didn't know how to handle this. My first reaction was to repeat the word "no" over and over to myself, then I switched to "I can't work" for a while before inevitably bursting into tears. A day or so later I received their reasons. The letter reads; "Your assessment shows that you are capable of work. We recognise that you have a disability or health condition. But to get Employment and Support Allowance you have to score at least 15 points from your assessment. You scored 0 points..." "The following pages show the points we have awarded you." This is where I learn that a 30minute interview is secretly seven questions in disguise. There is a table entitled "Your work capability assessment - mental, cognitive and intellectual functions." There are three columns, Functional area, Our assessment and Points. The Functional areas include, Learning How to do Tasks, Being Aware of Danger, Starting a Task and Finishing is to the End (Where else would you finish it to?), Coping with Changes, Coping with Getting About on your Own, Dealing With Other People and Behaviour With Other People. Under Our Assessment in a load of made up bullshit that I didn't say and under points is a list of zero's. Let me explain. I was asked a question similar to "Are you able to learn how to do new tasks." I answered by saying something like, "Yes, eventually. I need someone to talk me through it several times and show me how it's done four or five times then stand and watch me do it to make sure I do it right and then leave the instructions on a piece of paper so that I can check it everytime I do it. But yes, I will learn eventually." They have written, "You can learn how to do new tasks." All of them are like this and this infuriates me. Yes, boiled down to the bare minimum I am saying that I am able to learn new tasks, but no employer would go through all of that just so that I can use a till. Besides that, this is not 'normal' behaviour and that is what they are supposed to be assessing.
So, I have decided to appeal against their decision, which of course means that I have to fill out more forms. I will also have my psychotherapist to write an accompanying letter to say that I am unfit for work and I will ask Stu to write a small paragraph to say that he was present during the assessment and he can vouch for the fact that my answers seem to have all been taken out of context. If they stick by their decision I don't know what I'll do. This whole thing has already pushed me back into self-harm again. Does that sound like someone who is mentally stable to you?
Anyway, I think that was all I had to say, I'll let you know what happens with that.