Talk about leaving it late. Within a few minutes of publishing Part 1 of this, I got a call back from the DWP before the 48 hours could tick into what would then become 60 hours. I won’t act all paranoid and suggest maybe the government have their ways of finding info, but I had barely pressed publish when the call came.
Well I have told you it is complicated right? So was the call, the upshot is that I fall within the 26 weeks for a rapid reclaim, but was asked why the reclaim took me so long. I mean me? And they asked how I managed to survive on PIP alone, I explained I hadn’t, but you can’t be too sure what they are going to use against you to make sure you starve nowadays. Put it this way, the thought of how long can I go without turning to crime had been floated, but I have never been the criminal sort, so I would have to lose a few more stone, or maybe end up homeless before I added myself to their crime stats. The DWP diet, or the Poverty diet has done me proud having lost a stone and a half since my money stopped. Juggling money to pay my half of the rent. As for everything else, debts etc, they will just have to go whistle, I am completely insolvent.
Has Anything Changed Since Your Last Claim?
Anyway I digress as usual. The fun bit was being asked what my relationship status was, as this is a bone of contention and will feature in another blog post, and lead to a downward spiral of debt I owe to the the government and the local council (over £30,000 between them, no sure how I will ever manage to pay that). Since there is a very slow mandatory reconsideration going on that I gave passing mention to in Part 1, it was hard to know how to answer. Had anything changed she asked?
Well considering I don’t know if the DWP is accusing me of pulling a fast one over a declaration that meant I get LESS money, It was tricky to answer. Do they class the fact I have a mandatory reconsideration still in process as nothing has changed, or do I just go along with whatever the DWP have decided my relationship status is. Anyway, the person who called having asked some simple questions offered up “single”. Which funny enough, is a lot more accurate than a previous investigator asking about shopping routines and watching TV to figure out whether I am in a relationship rather than asking whether I am shagging someone or not.
Are you fit to work?
I was asked what I had been doing to find work, funny question really considering I had been on ESA, they had decided they would cancel my Work Capability Assessment and decide on my behalf I am fit enough to work. So this now falls into a subjective answer, but best to stick with “whatever you say I am, I believe the DWP says yes I am”. Which leads to a question about what have I been doing to look for work. Now you have to bare in mind the impossible nature of this question if indeed it would affect any back payment. Here is why:-
1- I was claiming ESA because I was on a sick note that said I wasn’t fit to work, I got that from a proper GP and see a specialist.
2- Because the next sick note over-ran the period of sick allowed on JSA, I was kicked off of JSA and told to apply for ESA. Which I did.
3- Because I was on ESA not JSA, I did not need to look for work, besides I was in no position to be able to take on a job if it was offered to me.
4- I then had my ESA Atos Assessment cancelled by the DWP, because they decided for reasons best known to them, that there was no need for one and I would fail it, so I was fit for work.
5- As a result they sent me a letter telling me I needed to pay back all of the money I had received since I first was paid ESA (the irony was that I was on more money when I was claiming JSA) right to the date of the letter (mid January).
6- As a knock on effect, I received a letter from my local council saying that my Housing & Council Tax Benefit has stopped and that I had to pay back everything paid to me since I started receiving ESA.
And yet they STILL expect me have been looking for work if I am to get back pay that I would have been getting had I been given the opportunity to burn the sick note (after all, who in the government gives a shit if I am certified by a GP, it is what someone at the DWP says that qualifies over the opinion of a GP or specialist! Thing is, I am not fucking psychic. I claimed for ESA in good faith, and this is an ongoing dispute as I will be taking it to an appeal tribunal. Its a deliberate lose lose situation, a stitch up. But you can see where they are going. If I am fit enough to look for work, I should be looking for work, and if that is the case I don’t need ESA (so screwed on that appeal). But if I haven’t been looking for work, I can go whistle for the rent and money I should have had in the last 2 months at least (that isn’t even mentioning the last 5 months).
I have an appointment tomorrow, I did ask about how the backdating process would work, as technically the money I have already received from ESA is not mine, but there is the issue I have gone without rent for months, so if it only backdates to a certain point, it will mean I still lose the Housing Benefit I am due. I was told to take that up with the advisor on the day. That doesn’t bode well.