I am a 49-year-old woman who has been managing the progressive disease multiple sclerosis for 19 years. I am unable to work and receive disability benefits.
In the year 2000, following an appeal process with the support of a welfare rights officer, I was granted Disability Living Allowance, high-rate care, high-rate mobility, indefinitely.
It was a relief knowing that I had this benefit, enabling me to enjoy a better quality of life.
In 2016 I received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions informing me of the government's change from Disability Living Allowance to 'Personal Independence Payment' benefits. The letter outlined that I would have to reapply and be assessed - again.
Filling out the assessment booklet was tiring and very stressful and took three sittings with the help of a friend to complete. I also felt great anger and frustration at having to go through all of this again.
Capita, the outsourcing giant running the assessments, informed me one would be carried out at my home a few months later at 6.30 in the evening. My care worker came to support me for this assessment.
I was feeling anxious about the visit, so you can imagine my dismay when the assessor did not turn up. On calling to enquire why the assessor's appointment had not been kept, I was informed it was because there was not enough travel time available for the assessor!
I made a formal complaint and £50 was reimbursed into my account, along with an apology.
The following week I was given a new appointment, this time for 9am. My care worker was present again.
I was questioned for 70 minutes, with the humiliating question "can you stand on one leg" thrown into the mix. The assessment left me exhausted.
Five weeks later I received my award letter. I was informed that I will continue to receive the high-rate mobility allowance - but that the 'daily living needs' rate would only be 'standard', thus cutting my benefits by £144 a month!
Shortly I will be going through the appeals process again, with the assistance of a welfare rights officer. Shame on Capita! Shame on the Tory government!