To the outside world I look normal, and from time to to time I get questioned why I don't work. I sometimes get funny looks when I use a blue badge or even get challenged. My condition is variable not just from day to day but hour to hour. And I live according to how I feel at that time. So if I feel I can mown the lawn, cut the hedge etc I do it. Okay it takes longer than if my husband does it, but when ever possible I want to remain independent. I have recently passed the new Works capability tests, and so in the support group for ESA and in receipt of DLA high rate mobility and middle rate care. I don't make it public what benefits I receive, but I was truthful when I answered the questions on the forms, and had the evidence to support it, but it is quite possible for someone who sees me doing these everyday things to report me to DWP for benefit fraud. I know that I am not claiming these benefits fraudulently, because people don't see what goes on behind closed doors, the tablets I have to swallow, the neb I have to use and the lines I have to put in to deliver meds directly into my system. The times I am sat up at night struggling to breath, or scratching like mad because my eczema is bad. They don't see me on the days when I can barely get around the flat or struggle to wear normal clothes when my skin is painful. In my mind I feel I should make the most of my good times, because I never know how long they are going to last, and beside for my mental health I think I should remain independent where ever possible. And yet in the back of mind from time to time I have wondered if those who know me have ever considered reporting me for benefit fraud.
This evening I received a telephone message to call a friend from her mum, I returned the call to discover that a dear friend is going through the hell of being investigated for benefit fraud. She is devastated, she works part time and the only benefit she rightly claims is DLA because she has the same illness as me. Her working hours and patterns have been adapted so she can continue to work, many with our illness do not, but she is determined to work as long as possible and the DLA helps her in many ways to do this. I won't do into details how she knows she is being investigated but she says knowing that someone is watching her every move is awful, the DWP investigators have a job to do I understand but with a variable illness like ours filming and photographing someone outside their home will not give you a full picture. The stress my dear friend is going through is dreadful and her mum is desperately worried about her daughter's health and welfare as a result. We can only think that someone has reported her who either has an axe to grind, jealous or simply doesn't understand about the day to day difficulties that she has to live with. Living with a hidden illness is hard enough when you often look normal, but cannot carry out the every day life task all the time, without having to worry about doing something normal on a good day and being reported for it to the DWP.