By 2017, over 50,000 people with disabilities in the U.K. had lost their accessible vehicles due to reassessments required by Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a financial assistance program for people with disabilities.
Motability Scheme is a program that provides financial assistance to help people lease an accessible vehicle. My second Motability Scheme vehicle was recently delivered to deal with my now increased disability. The innumerable adaptations cost a significant amount of dosh, so the prospect of losing the vehicle was deeply worrying.
A few years ago, PIP replaced an older financial assistance program called Disability Living Allowance (DLA). I could quote countless horror stories about how complex and awful PIP was back then. Instead of getting political, though, I will discuss how I survived my PIP assessment.
I was informed about six months ago that I had to apply for PIP. I’ve been dreading this for three years. Dealing with a major chronic disease is chaotic enough, but then we are thrown into a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy. Disasters are everywhere: insurance claims, transportation, blue badges (accessible parking placards), and on and on.
No wonder I had trouble sleeping.
My first DLA application had been rejected. Instead of funneling all my energy into it, I treated the original application as just another grenade. All grenades need to be treated tentatively and with respect, but this one already had the pin pulled out. I needed to be careful and shove at least a paper clip in it!
I now had to wait nearly a year for a tribunal. This time, I took it seriously and won with a lot of help. People with disabilities often don’t have the financial resources to get through this. Luckily, I’d spent my able-bodied life in relatively high-profile jobs. In the end, I even got paid well!
PIP replaced DLA, and I was in the back of the queue. Due to the year’s delay, I received the DLA award in the last possible month. I think Brexit also may have stretched government resources just a tad.
PIP decided I needed a house visit by an assessor. PIP assessments had a terrible reputation, so I was worried. Stacks of documentation and a report from my neurologist weren’t enough, and I feared the worst.
I decided to do the journalistic thing and record the interview. I went by the government’s book and informed them, only to plunge into a beautiful and bureaucratic Catch-22: I could record it, but only if I had a dual cassette recorder. Anything else would be breaking the rules. And I’d only have five days to find one. Who has that kind of ancient equipment anymore?
If I used anything else, the assessment would be canceled, so I had no choice. Losing my blue badge, my accessible van, and my Access to Work grant would make life impossible.
Fortunately, the PIP assessor had a medical background. She was also sympathetic — and a day early! She screwed up her own timetable and was grateful that I was cool about it.
Of course I was cool about it. It gave me the upper hand. Given the way my body works, it was definitely my left hand.
I just heard that my application was accepted. The downside is that I should have applied for a DLA reassessment a year ago, after my last major relapse. I would’ve been completely covered, but I just couldn’t face the prospect of another assessment!
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