In 2003, I took really poorly with what turned out to be MS.My condition progressed from there. It took two years for me to get a diagnosis.
After a while, when I was really becoming restricted badly, I decided to apply for Disability Living Allowance. I could only walk very short distances - less than 40 metres or so - and my fatigue and balance issues restricted me badly in what I could do. I was using a wheelchair for longer distances.
I filled in the hugely long and complicated form myself: a mistake, as I later discovered. There are certain ways of wording things that are "understood" by the decision makers at the DWP.
It's depressing filling in a form like that. When you're trying to stay positive and focused on living your life, suddenly having to list all the things you can't do, write about your problems with washing, dressing, going to the toilet, doesn't really help.
A doctor came to my house to give me a medical. He asked me lots of questions, and confused me. When I finally saw his report, some time later, I didn't recognise it as relating to what I'd said. Apparently I could walk for about quarter of a mile without needing to stop, and had few problems with self care.
The DWP sent me their decision. They'd awarded me low rate care, and nothing for mobility. I didn't think that was right, so I appealed against the decision. At the appeal hearing, I was called a liar to my face and had the low rate care removed as well. Now I was getting no DLA at all.
I decided to take it further. I appealed the tribunal's decision to the Commissioner for Social Security. He decided I hadn't had a fair hearing, and that I should have another one.
At the new hearing, I was awarded high rate mobility and middle rate care. The award is indefinite, because my MS is progressive. Sadly, it's not going to get better!
The media is full of stories about scroungers who get DLA. I genuinely don't know how these people do it. Considering all I went through to get DLA, with a genuine condition...
Anyway. Please. Support Responsible Reform, the #spartacusreport. Yes, some reform is needed in the benefits system, but not the manic rolling-eyed machete-wielding currently on display from the Coalition.