Claiming benefits is easy? Really?

So, on this morning's Andrew Marr show, they said claiming benefits was 'easy'.

Only it's not. I've just heard of another friend's friend who's taken her own life because she couldn't handle dealing with the benefits system. She was found fit for work, and they cut her PIP. She stockpiled paracetamol and took her own life.

Unfortunately this is a story we are hearing all too often now.

Claiming benefits is one of the hardest things anyone that needs to claim them has to do. Not only are the forms complicated, and you're made to jump through hoops to get everything right, the assessments can be degrading and demoralising. Not to mention the stress if you get turned down and you have to go through the mandatory reconsideration and tribunals process afterwards. It's too much.

And then there's peoples pride. A lot of people in this country were brought up to be proud people. To be proud to have a job. The British stiff upper lip and all that. But then they fall ill (not just the common cold mind you - a long term chronic illness I'm talking about here), or they're made redundant, and they lose their job, and suddenly their pride turns to shame as they realise they can't live on their savings alone - if they have any at all. They realise they need to claim benefits for the first time in their lives to help them survive - only some find that the shame of becoming one of those people they were previously so proud NOT to be haunts them so bad they can't survive - and they take their own life.

Think claiming benefits is easy? Think again.

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37 Replies

  • I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend Symes. And I agree with you whole-heartedly, it's a soul-destroying process for anyone to go through. x

  • Sorry to hear about your friends friend Symes and l do agree that claiming benefits is not easy at all. I helped a friend of Petes some years ago because he wasn't getting what he should. Jumping through hoops is a good description and should not have to be done.

    Wishing you well. Xxxxx

  • these benefits programmes aren't helping genuine people the ones where she has 10 kids or more spends £300/400 each on them for Christmas , and blatantly says she will have more kids and her partner says they don't have to pay for them or the young lads that are on dla flogging stuff at the markets then run like hell when some one in authority comes by , or the one where nearly half the street are up all night drinking playing music then sleep half the day ,

  • Isn't it funny though how programme makers concentrate only on the very small minority? I guess it's not 'television worthy' to make programmes about all the genuine people on benefits is it?

  • yes I know what you mean but a lot of people watch that and think its the majority of people on benefits , some of the things some say and do you think are you really that stupid to go on tv and do that , I suppose it wouldn't be very interesting to watch how really people struggle getting through the things they have to do every day ,

  • Hi couldn't agree more


  • I agree with you, it is a trying time, but it seems only for the genuine ones.

    I am / have been aware of others who keep on getting benefits and seem to always find ways of getting all the additions. and they will do work on the side etc. and can afford to live lifestyles that people like my son / grandsons, can't achieve from being out of the house from 06.30 - 19.00 each day, some times 7 days a week. I think if you can fool them that you have depression etc. your on a winner.

  • If you know of anyone genuinely defrauding the system, then you should report them to the DWP.

    But there are more genuine cases out there than not, both for physical and mental health.

  • It's very difficult to fool the assessors that you have depression without the medical evidence to back it up. You can't just say you have depression and mimic the symptoms you know! You need proof from the doctor and counsellors. These people, if they are scamming, must be providing false evidence.

  • I lost my job at the DWP contact centre in 2010 at the age of 56 due to illness. Staff were allowed 7 days a year off sick on a rolling period. This was not for 'one off illnesses' such as breaking your leg or getting cancer or something, but did include flu, colds, chest infections etc. If you transgressed the 7 days you would get a written warning with 18 months to work it off. I battled on for 5 and a half years (and that was not easy with copd, depression and a chronic bad back), but eventually I was on a final written warning because of a severe chest infection. Unfortunately even after taking ab's and steroids, it returned 2 weeks later and I could barely move let alone go into work and deal with all day telephone calls! I was summarily dismissed.

    I claimed JSA until I turned 60, when fortunately I could access my private pensions. During my time on JSA I got a letter from the doctor stating I could only work part time, which thank goodness did protect me somewhat. Then I was 5 minutes late for my signing on (unavoidable due to a traffic accident) and was told that they would let me off this time, but it was a sanctionable offence and if it happened again I would be sanctioned.

    About every 6 months they tried to send me on an over 50's full time course (Govt. instructions - concentrate on over 50's. why I don't know) to 'learn' to write letters and cv's! I explained that I could already do all that and it was too much for me and they said I had no choice. I had to go and see my lovely doctor who would give me a sick note, claim that for a month or so, then back onto JSA until they pulled the same trick again. It was so stressful and made my depression much worse. I was sent to a job club and I asked about retraining. They said the only available funding was for caring!

    Now at 62 (when I should have got my state pension at 60 until they changed the rules), without my private pensions I would still be signing on and applying for jobs I couldn't do - mainly manual or standing work, and I found no one was interested in employing people at my age. There is very little admin or sitting down work in my area and anything I have applied for and occasionally got interviews for, employers have told me they have had over 300 applications. No chance of finding work here. x

  • In 2014 a survey of the general public found that on average the figure they put on benefit fraud was 40%, the highest figure given was 61%. The true figure is 0.7%

    Further, around 1.6 £billion remains unclaimed by those eligible but do not claim because they do not know they can or are too proud, or just unable.

    The largest sector of benefit claim is from those of pensionable age ( 53%)

    Families with more than five children account for just 1 per cent of out-of-work benefit claims. 91 per cent of benefit-claiming households have three or fewer children.

    Among households with two or more generations of working age, there are only 0.3 per cent where neither generation has worked.

    Tax evasion by the wealthy is a greater threat to the nations coffers, as an example, for every £1 swallowed up by benefit fraud, £4 disappears because of people evading rightly due tax. Guess who the Govt pursue the most relentlessly to get back any dues??

    Pensions cost the exchequer £80 billion

    Housing benefit costs £25 billion

    Jobseeker allowance and income support cost £5 billion each.

    Tax evasion is around £34 billion.

    2,600 staff at the DWP are employed solely in benefit fraud.

    700 staff at HMRC are designated for tax fraud.

  • I agree. I read somewhere that unpaid taxes by big companies (ie Amazon, Google, Starbucks etc. and wealthy individuals ie Jimmy Carr, Wayne Rooney and countless others) cost this country £120 billion pounds a year. There would be no need for austerity cuts if this was collected would there... It just proves it's not the money which is important to the Govt. but their idealogical battle against the poor. x

  • Thank you Stree for stating the real facts, which people need to hear!


  • And heaven forbid we would introduce honesty and character in grammar school education...Union Leaders tell us Climate Change and Gender Identity are more important subjects for 7 year-olds.

  • I have a son who can not read write can not plan anyting do not know what bus will take him to town got to be told what to do and when can not cook a meal stoped him useing a micro wave has he kept blowing them as he kept puting foil cotainers in them had a pip medical about a few weeks ago and was told he can do everything that a nomal person can do he do not claim anything els as i will not let him as when i took him to sign on a few years ago they told him he had to go to a job club ect. So i took him and on the first morning when i took him to it they give him forms to fill in so i asked have you been told he can not fill them in yes the woman said but he still got to do it or he will lose his money so i said to her take this down you keep it as i will keep him on what i get and i have not taken him back in 5 years i think

  • Hi I feel for your sons situation that is not right please get help. If your son needs the help you are saying he should be getting PIP. I applied for pip and was awarded it due to the things I have to help live my daily life. You really need help from someone who can fill the forms in right and use the right words. My niece is training to be a nurse for people with learning difficulties. Some of the pacients she looks after live in there own homes and get everything they are entitled to. Please get help. This just shows what an arse the benefit system is

  • He just had a medicel for pip as he was getting dla from the age of 10 at the low rate which we usd it on cloths for him and lerning games ect they done the medicl at home as the first time they try to give him a medical on first floor but lift out of order and as i use a wheelchair they had to give me a nother date for him so the give him a home vist and after all that some numwat give him a 0 0 0 0 but i do not think the ones they send out know about mental illness even after telling her when he was in school and collage he had one to one all the way though plus the wife had a uncal the same as my son but he use to go to a center but that have close down now as he will get worst and people like him when they get up set they try to hit the one they love more so all that yet to come .never mind if they want to keep the 125.00 a month just to make them look good then they can my brother inlaw told use to take it to the trybunral and ask them did they have some one who is a person who deals and knows what they are doing

  • I agree with your brother inlaw. I would take it to a tribunal. Do you have a social worker or a understanding GP who could help you. With getting your point across to these. Uncaring penpushers. My daughter has learning dificulties but not as bad as your sons. And we had a hard time getting the help she needed when she was at school. But in the end we managed to do it. It is not right that the ones that need the help have to fight for it. And others get given things on a plate that don't really need them.

  • Has he been reviewed recently by the Disability Learning Team? If not, may I suggest asking his GP to refer him? I was told by my Assessor that they don't take Depression into consideration unless you are under a Psychologist. I managed to get help from District Disability Team (not council), Disability Huntingdonshire. Is there one similiar where you are? They even offered to represent me should I need to apply for reconsideration. Please have another go. At least talk to the Disability Teams.

  • I would take it to a Tribunal, most definetly. Thing is David, you have the means to support your son but many won't have. The services for those with learning disabilities get less & less & there are fewer qualified Nurses & social workers involved in their care. X

  • You cannot just go to a is part of a process, only when you have completed the first stages of disputing a refused claim will a tribunal be available........

  • Yes, sorry I wasn't writing about the process but the principle. I guess it could be confusing. X

  • Thats it when he was in school and colage you can not get away from heath workers ect but as he stopped colage no whan have seen him no sent for him or nothing but that is the way it all gos thanks to every one

  • The last time the school done it for him plus he was under the lee which is a school body but for all school in the uk

  • I would ask them for help again. As you are not getting the help you should be getting. Let us know how you get on. Xx

  • You have one month to appeal for a mandatory reconsideration after a decision is made about a claim you make, you have to take this step first, a tribunal will not be available unless this step is taken first.

    If you are unhappy with the mandatory reconsideration outcome then and only then you may request a tribunal to assess your case.

    There is also an upper tribunal, but this is not for cases that do not give the outcome you want at a tribunal hearing, it is only for cases involving a point of law.

    It is wise to involve a welfare agency or other knowledgeable advocate if you intend to go ahead with any form of appeal.

    The best way to maximise your chances of success at the earliest stages of a claim s to do your homework, gather evidence such as documentation from Your GP, hospital, consultants, specialists etc, make copies, keep daily diaries of how your condition affects you, and always remember................this whole excercise is to claim what is rightfully yours, so do it in a calm, positive, and constructive way.....emotions may be high, but they will not help, stick to the facts. I know this may be more easily said than done but there are rules set to play by and all we can do is work within them.

    Never make a claim in a rush, or the heat of the moment, the more consideration given at the outset the greater the chances of success.....Failure to plan is planning to fail.

    I get ESA in support group, 10 year to next review, PIP higher rate mobility, standard daily care, again 10 years before review.

    I did my own claim start to finish on both having never made a claim before.

    I almost never even began the claim process, I got the multiple page ESA document after the 40 minute phone call, began filling it in but was not confident it would do any good,I had been self employed and no one I asked knew if I could claim or I gave up and put the document in the bin. At this point I was as low as I have ever ever been.unable to work, no income......useless. A burden on those I loved.

    One day before it was due back, I got a call from DWP..............A woman asked why the docs were not back with them.......I told her........I was asked to wait, not to hang up. I did.............She came back, asked for NI number, sick note dates etc. I said my sick note had run out.She asked me for my GPs phone number.....asked me to hang on again.

    More questions, dates, money, etc etc..Asked me to hang on again. I told her at this point I thought it a waste of time, I was never going to get a claim considered and I had resigned myself to it.

    When she got back she had called to Doc, got a sick note, checked my NI contributions and processed my claim which began on that day (Friday) and a backdated sum was in the bank by the following Tuesday. I think I shed a tear......By the time we finished it was exactly one minute to five and her phone cut off at five so I had no chance to properly thank her.

    I never got her name, all I know is there is at least one angel in the DWP.

  • I know someone who has been helped by the local Welfare rights department. A speaker attended our last breathe easy group, but I wasn't well enough to attend, though I know they will help with appeals.

  • Thank you Symes, it seems to me the system as become even more strict. I recall going through these things untill they reduced me to a nervous wreck ( I had a nervous breakdown because of what they did and that is why people commit suicide) but it is a long time ago now, but I also recall my late husband working all his life from 14yrs old getting just twelve months pittance then having to live off my wages till he officially retired. And to add insult to injury when he was terminal and died they deducted a weeks money off myself and stopped his heating allowance even though he was alive on the qualifying date. I still get put through the annual reveiw process even though nothing in my health has changed and I have been a pensioner for 8yrs and registered disabled since 1992. I am very saddened to hear your freind was driven to suicide but understand the feelings. I thought things would be better by now but guess not. I have more than one chronic physical illness but the powers that be i.e those that administer the rules still seem to have no compassion even for those who have paid in all their lifes. My deepest sympathy to yourself for this unnecessary loss of a young freind. xx

  • it affects not just the people who are ill, my son had the misfortune to go on to JSA and from this he still had to pay the normal bills such as electricity, water and food, he put in a claim for housing benefit but still had to pay £11.50 towards his council tax. This is all down to Universal Credit. He is a type 1 diabetic and his food bill can be horrendous, he even resorted for a short time to going to food banks.

  • Sorry to hear about your friend and yes this something that happens more often.

    I don't find myself agreeing with Mr M very often but on this occasion I do think the TV only focus on the people who don't need it. I remember seeing one where this women put a bottle of water in her pants when she went for a assessment and as she stood up she squeezed the bottle to make it look like she had wet her self.

    Then you get people on hear saying a chest infection won't stop them going out enjoying themselves it's bloody stupid I think we all know the best place for us with a chest infection is in bed this system needs changing

  • My son is a very intelligent 40 year old with high functioning autism. Despite all the efforts of autism charities the DWP still ask the daftest questions. Before the current rules I applied for benefits for him. He can't fill in forms so we had an interview and I was given authority. Guess what - they lost it! We got as far as the govt ministry and I tried to deal with it. They said I couldn't and had to speak to claimant. I said he would shout at them, they said they still had to. Gave son the phone he shouted I got to phone just in time before they cut him off for being rude! No sense at all. He hasn't been reassessed yet, but he is now married so I cannot help. Fortunately he has good friends too but I dread a PIP assessment for him. After all the struggles with benefits I feel for you all, I do hope it all goes well.

  • You are right in what you say Symes. I think the comment on the Andrew Marr show was about immigrants & Britain being an easy place for them to claim. I doubt it. We are both state Pensioners, topped up with a small private pension. We pay full council tax. I have worked all but one year of my employment life and 6 years in full time education. We came into contact with welfare services because my husband had been made redundant a number of times. I think he got 6 months of JSA, £49 week & then he could not claim because I was working. As a mature student on less than £1200 quarter income, Dave had an unemployment period. Dave was exempt from paying council tax & students did not pay. But I was designated the second responsible adult & was made responsible for paying the full council tax. Are benefit system is farcical but for anyone trying to claim because of need it is anything but funny. X

  • Here in our 'neighborhood' returning Soldiers are denied or delayed and discouraged to the point of self-destruction. Good old U S.

  • I was sent home from 24 hours in hospital a few weeks ago after being told there was nothing more they could do for me. I now have a palliative nurse and plan to die at home. Have had to increase my carers visits to 3 times a day and get my bed moved into the lounge - despite having lost yet more capacity I was beginning to get some strength and control back and even some hope all that went when the DWP sent a form to reassess me for PIP which I now receive at standard rate for care and highest rate for mobility - although my care component requirement is obviously higher now I was not going to bother to ask for reassessment as could not face the forms etc and could be dead by the time they decided and had a letter from them saying I was entitled to this until October 2017, so thought it best to just leave it. When I phoned and queried this reassessment they said they always reassess a year before the date they have given which makes no sense at all . Anyway the form and prospect and jumping through hoops again has completely unbalanced me started a chain of depression and tears and hopelessness that has now made me physically ill and have had another exacerbation and I thought I was strong .........

  • Im so sorry to hear of your news undine but surely you should be on high p I p. If palliative nurses involved. My mother. God rest her soul..ended up with palliative nurse and under special circumstances you should get high on both straight away. Her nurses done her form.

  • What annoys me is the fact that different countries in the UK have different rules for care mother's home care in Wales was capped .

    I actually rang her Social worker because I thought they had made a mistake ...the cost was so low compared to England.

  • It is a fact that there are those that either set out from the start to defraud the system, there are also those who slip into fraud by neglecting to inform and update as their situation changes and their eligibility to a claim is negated. Some do this in the hope it will go unnoticed, some by being ignorant of the need to inform and update, assuming it will be done automatically.

    By far the most aggressive and destructive of the above are those that set out to defraud.

    It is very difficult indeed to now commit such fraud at the point of making a claim, there are simply too many checks and balances, too many tests and assessments, too many calls for verification and documentation for a fraud to now be committed at the outset of a claim.

    So where do all these fraud cases come from and how do they arise?

    Of course there are those who are claiming who have a change in circumstances but this is far less likely to be in the higher level of longer term claim such as support group in ESA, so by definition those who are likely to regain health are those in the WRAG ( Work related activity group) of ESA which is a limited time benefit as it is intended for those expected to be fit to return to work. So not much time to commit a fraud of any value. Not worth it.

    I know there are many cases where those put in WRAG should be in Support Group, but that is another issue.

    So that leaves still the question? where do these blatant cases of outright fraud come from?

    How did they get a successful claim in the first place with so many checks and balances?

    This brings me to the elephant in the room...........................The one that never seems to get mentioned...............and I understand why, because whoever says it will be the villain......

    Lets see.............................

    Before ESA and PIP there was, and still is , Disability Living Allowance..this as we know is being phased out, and many are anxious about transferring to PIP.

    This is understandable, it is change for one thing which is not always easy, and more important PIP is granted only when a successful application and proof of need is verified.

    I think this is where a proportion of the fraud element is being detected, people who got DLA many years ago without check and now face a very different claim process.

    The following quote is from the DWP`s own policy statement.

    "Disability Living Allowance awards can be decided

    on the basis of self-reporting of need, and although medical evidence is sought

    for certain awards, it is not mandatory or routinely provided"

    Imagine that process to get into PIP and Support Group??

    You can see the temptation that must have had for anyone looking to get a free ride on the system...and I think it may be these frauds that began many years ago but just being detected now that are colouring the way all claimants are being seen, seen and reported in the media. Of course the longer term frauds have other benefits rolled in and huge sums of money in total........ More bad press for us, more ammo for the right wing zealots.

    As MM Zetor said much earlier in this thread, no-one is interested in the everyday humdrum life of a typical claimant... so that that just leaves the fraudsters to represent us all.

    Please do not mistake this for an attack on DLA claimants, it is not, it is highlighting how the fraudsters got in.

    If you think I am wrong, I am happy to hear the true case.

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