Life through the eyes of a 30-something Panda Woman who happens to be Chronically Sick and Disabled.

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Sadly this is not the “Friends with benefits” scenario that I speak of, but the financial support supposedly offered by the government.

I got sick initially back in 2006 whilst working. At first it was just a couple of days off every so often, or an extended lunch, late start or early finish. But gradually the time off increased. Eventually it became difficult to work and I had to leave whilst in a multi-flare.

I had a bit of money to live off of initially but a ton of debt as I’d been trying to fund private treatment. Debt begat debt and I ended up with no money at all and debt arrears. I was unable to work as I was ill and got signed off by my doctor. The initial application for ESA was fairly simple and the payments were invaluable (even though I still couldn’t meet all the bills you wouldn’t expect to get the equivalent of a £30k salary on benefits would you). I cut back. After 3 months I transferred to JSA and started job hunting.

I got a job another 3 months later and was there a whole 2 months before being made redundant, the stress of which put me in another flare and the cycle began anew. The next job lasted 2 months and I’ve not worked since as my consultants have now told me I won’t be able to work a 5 day week and that means a career change, this combined with flares from the stress means I seem to bounce between ESA and JSA. The payout from both benefits is exactly the same. To the penny. The delays are the killer.

They keep screwing up the transition process. Claims marked as dormant instead of closed. End-dates not entered into this system. Usually this leads to a delay of a couple of weeks which although awful and forcing me to borrow a bit from my parents, I can cope with but this time…

… Doctor signed me off on the 5th April at 17:30. Then came the Easter bank holiday. I called them up on the tues (my bday) and they couldn’t do it over the phone as the last claim didn’t have an end date, so they sent me a form to fill in. This arrived on the 17th and was posted back filled in on the 18th. I still hadn’t heard anything today so called up and was told not to expect them to even receive it until the 25th and that I shouldn’t expect to receive a payment until the 9th may, by which point I’ll be owed just under £400…

In this modern digital age, how the hell can this be so difficult and take so long?! I suggested they could perhaps just put an end-date on the previous claim now but apparently that would take another 2-3 working days and probably another 2 hours On hold across another 4 different 0845 numbers…

Well at least I _will_ get some benefits, which is more than a lot of people in this world have, but I can’t believe how wasteful and inefficient our public services are!

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April 2012
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