British Lung Foundation
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Has anyone got any advice please? I'm not sure what to do

I have got mild COPD, asthma, depression and Hidrundinitis Suppouritiva (skin infection,. but not severe).

I'm currently out of work and on JSA. I'm being hassled constantly by the Jobcentre to find work. But there is very little work I can do where I live - it has to be sit down (bad back) preferably admin, which is what I have always done. Most jobs here are physical and being on your feet a lot (oh the benefits of living by the seaside - not).

The Jobcentre has a letter from my doctor saying due to my depression and other health problems that I should not work more than 30 hours a week. Acccording to the Jobcentre I should apply for 3 jobs a fortnight. I am lucky if there is 1 I can do. What can I do? I am scared they will stop my benefits. I don't feel able to work more than 25 hours a week I just get so tired. I want to work. I think I will have to apply for any job - full time or physical even though I know I can't do it. Maybe if I can get some strong painkillers I can manage? The Jobcentre expect me to appy for any work within 1 hour 30 mins travelling time - even getting several buses and a train and I can't cope with that. It looks like to meet their conditions I am going to have to work myself to death. Is that what it is these days?

My minds going round and round in this quandry. Can I ask what others think please? Any advice would be helpful.

A 'friend' today said she didn't think I was trying very hard to get a job - she has been offered loads. So I challenged her to find me one!

Sorry to go on but I don't know where to turn next.

Bev x

PS. I don't think my doctor will sign me off sick because my depression isn't that bad at the moment.

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16 Replies

I'm not being hassled by the jobcentre because I don't sign on. Had an argument with them about going down there, they wanted to see me once a week, but I didn't qualify for any benefits so I really didn't see the point of going. Instead, I get hassle from the family, who keep telling me I should have a job by now.

I'm looking, I'm applying, I'm not even getting interviews, or even acknowledgement that they've got my application in a lot of cases. I don't apply for every job going, that would be silly, but anything that's within my scope, and I've had to widen the options a lot.

I'm using a lot of on-line resources, rather than rely on the Jobcentre. If you need some options try or as starters. You can browse the vacancies on their sites, quite often the very same ones on each. If you register with them, and upload your CV, you can quickly apply for any vacancy advertised.

Then you can happily tell the jobcentre you've applied for 15 jobs this week, or whatever. As I said, widen your scope and bear in mind you will probably not hear from most of them again. Obviously, don't go for jobs you simply could not do, that's not fair on the potential employer in even looking at your application.

As long as you're looking and applying for jobs they'll be happy. Same with your 'friend', you could tell them you've applied for 15 jobs this week - but resign yourself to the fact you're probably not going to get an interview.

I'm not suggesting you should give a bad CV, but you would have to tell a prospective employer about the limitations your Doctor has laid down. That would obviously negate any full time positions, you would only be looking for part-time and that cuts back on the searching a lot.

Does your jobcentre have a specific person who deals with disabilities? Ours does, but I found he was as bad as all the rest of the staff, just interested in getting you to apply for jobs, mine came up with some very unsuitable positions, which was another reason I stopped going. It was a waste of time. I could find much better openings by myself.

You want to work, so that's a good sign. You don't want your doctor to sign you off sick but at the same time you don't want the jobcentre staff making you sick!

Forget the painkillers, why put your health at risk? That's something you may need to speak to your GP about if you were offered a job, but a lot depends on how able you are to take it if you were lucky enough to get beyond interview stage. A similar thing with travelling, what does your GP think is reasonable ?

I do a trip to visit my dad each week. It's 40+ miles by car, even longer by bus and train, but that's the way I usually go. I can catch a bus from near home to the interchange, it's a walk from the bus to the train, but I can usually make it with a couple of rest stops, it's all under cover so no problems with rain or anything. Once I am on the train I have 20+ minutes resting time before I reach the station I get off at.

From there it's a downhill slope to the main road and the bus stop where I get the bus to the end of the road where Dad lives. I'm on the bus for about 50 minutes, so well rested by the time I get off, then a short walk to the house. Coming back I get the bus quite easily, I've probably been sat with Dad a few hours by then. I get off at the rail station but now it's uphill, not very far, to the platforms. Again, a couple of rest stops on the way help, although I'm out in the open and I've not yet been caught with the rain to see how I would cope with that.

Once on the train it's a 20 minute sit and rest and almost plain sailing home. All told I spend nearly 3 hours each way, with waiting for buses and making connections. I have to allow myself the time to get from the bus to the train, complete with stopping a few times. It's possible, but a pain. If I had to do it for a job then I'd have to I guess.

I'm always SOB between the connections, but I do it because I need to. It gives me some much needed exercise and gets me out of the house for a day, I get to see my dad, and I wouldn't if I didn't make the effort. The good point is that it does not cost me anything as I have my bus pass. The bad bit is that I'm always shattered the day after!

I use that journey as a guide to how I would reach a given job I've applied for. How far from public transport it is, how far to walk from a stop, then I consider doing that in bad weather, cold, biting winds, perhaps snow - now think again, could I do that without putting myself at risk - and by that I mean not being able to run for shelter or ensuring that I don't get 'stuck' at an open bus stop when there's a possibility it will be running late, or not at all.

It's these sort of things that have to be considered when going for a job, and the jobcentre staff just don't take that into account. I know that I can't run, I can't walk too far in one go. Quite simply, if the journey is going to be too difficult then you would have to say so. They should not be forcing you into an early grave.

My other consideration is that if I got a job then I would get a car, which would make life easier. I can't afford to run one with no income, but would consider it beneficial as soon as I could get one - but that depends on getting a job of course.

3.15am, can you tell I'm having bother sleeping right now... Supposed I'd better go try again.

Thanks for your reply Gordon. Oh dear I am sorry you are in same position as me except that I have to sign on for benefit as I live on my own.

I have widened my scope for jobs - will do anything as long as I can sit down for most of the time as I had a bad back and cant stand for long. Unfortunately this means only admin or possible working on till in supermarket. I dont know any other jobs I could do - perhaps you could suggest some??

The travel here is abysmal. Infrequent and very expensive. I do have a driving licience but probably couldn't afford to get a car because I could not earn enough to run it and survive. A lots of jobs are minimum wage here. If I worked 25 hours a week I couldn't make more than about 190.00 per week. By the time I have paid income tax, national insurance and pension the rest would have to go on bills. Fortunately I own my own flat otherwise I couldn't work at all - an average 1 bedroom flat here is about 110.00 per week. Also because of lack of transport and the fact that many jobs are on the outskirts of local cities and towns there are many I can't get to/

Thanks for the link I will add it to my job looking sites.

Bev xx

Hi Bev,

(answering a bit from further down first) I wouldn't have thought it depressing to realise there are many others in a similar situation, more that a lot will have been there, done that, and be able to help more?

The biggest worry is that there's no easy or defined path, everyone is handled differently by the benefits people, and we all have our own symptoms and levels of how this affects us. That's the bit we need the magic wand for, it would save hours of questions and a lot of stress.

I was trying to apply for a job with the council, in the blue badge office, as that would be sat down admin type work. I'm still applying for any similar positions with the council, as well as other jobs.

You could also do with some benefits advice yourself from what you say, if you are working and can't make ends meet then you may get some help with council tax and so on. Working Tax Credits, they're not just for families with kids.

Would your health problems entitle you to DLA? That could be a way of getting the travel costs you need to get to and from work, perhaps even a car.

Another thought is to apply for a travel pass on disability grounds ? Check with your local council for an application form, and speak to your GP about them backing you up on that.

Because of your health, would the jobcentre allow you to sign on less frequently as you have difficulty getting there and back? I know, that's more of less telling them you would have the same problems with going to work if you had a job and they could go the other way.

Get some help and advice, please, and see what you may be entitled to. Martin Lewis's website has quite a lot of info to get you started -

I can appreciate that where you live there's lots of seasonal work, but also lots of people willing to do it for minimum wage. You need a year-round role that you can do. I don't have any suggestions on that topic, it's just a case of looking and keep trying. Best of luck with that.

Thanks Gordon will have a look. Good luck with yourself as well.

I wouldnt get council tax on 190.00 a week though might on less. I would have to do 30 hours a week to get working tax credits I think even though I get lower rate care dla. Sure I checked on line. I already have a bus pass o I dont think there is anything else I could get.

What I really need is to see the disability person at JCP, and see if I can get the number of jobs I can do altered. Also I could afford to send out cvs and letters etc. if I got help with postage and a computer which would print....mine broken. I think thats the way to go.

Good luck with your job hunting too.

Bev x

Hmmm - from the dim and distant past, there was something in my head about jobcentres being able to duplicate or print CV's for you, and even post applications? I've no idea if they still do that sort of thing. It's a long time ago since that was offered to me, but I'm pretty sure it was at a jobcentre.

Hope your disability advisor is better than the one I saw here, apart from him claiming to be disabled himself, he wasn't much different from the other advisor's, just interested in getting interviews sorted and not very helpful when I asked about refunding of bus fares as I was signing on and got no benefits, crazy. Before I got my bus pass though.

Perhaps widen your horizons about what jobs you can do, ask the job centre if they have any admin jobs going that you could do, ask with any local organisation, bus company, ticket office at local cinema, theatre, supermarket check outs etc. You can apply for jobs that are not advertised just by writing a standard letter and posting to local companies.

Maybe consider a training course in self esteem and brush up on your interview skills, ask the job centre about these, they often have training courses you can attend.

Also phone the helpline about your COPD and asthma to get further advice.

Wishing you every success and a happy healthy winter.

Thank you for your reply zoee. I do regular job searches at the JCP. The trouble here is that their aren't really any local businesses. The only ones are the Hospital, the Civil Service (where I have already worked and been sacked for illness) and the local Council. I do check those all the time but they are not employing due to cutbacks. I was turned down by the NHS for work on their admin bank staff due to my sickness level in my previous job.

I guess I could write to the local Department Stores about admin jobs. Apart from that its shop work, hotels, and care homes.

Will ring BLF for their advice though.

Bev xx

And may I ask is this friend able to be flexible and able to do more or less anything, oh the joys of health.

I am sorry but the brutal truth is we all have an ongoing illness and a lot of employers are not interested.

Job centre have to look like they are being pro active, and you are an easy target.

Go back to the doctor explain and throw a few tears if need be.

Also great apply for jobs , just because you apply for them does not mean they have to take you on, and if you get for a interview, make sure they are aware of your health

I hate having to be devious but if that is the only way to play the game to keep people of your back then do so , for your health and depression

wish you luck



Good advice jackie! Am going to see if there a disabled advisor at JCP and if they can help me. If not will go back to doctor and see what she can suggest.

Thanks a lot

Bev xx

Hypercat, I don't have the same experience but my thoughts are with you. Gordon is right, the Jobcentre staff are there for one reason only, to get you into work and off benefits, not necessarily in that order. In your position I would try the GP again and ask that he be more specific as to your limitations. Good luck. Auntymary xx

I too have "MILD" copd however it feels a damn sight worse. So I would suggest you go by what your own body tells you. Its great the the JC try to push you into unsuitable jobs just remember they dont have your problems.

It is weird isn't it. I'm classed as moderate at FEV1 55%, but I don't feel bad with it.

Lynne x

hI hypercat - In a simular catch 22 myself - Asthma moderate coped 48% FEV1 cuurantly on JSA and the waste of time that is Work Fit! Where you trek to town to job search on a computer in a room full of people with colds instead of staying at home to job search on computer! Ok better stop or will be on a rant.....

Still practical tips - I have it on my JSA agreement other restrictions on availablity or types of work - 'restrictions due to health - from gp diagnosed 'copd bronchtis and emphysema.

And I have only applyed for part time 16 - 30 hours and taken into account how difficult to get to and from the jobs. For example stairs' sob, waiting in the cold ect blah blah and explain to them how much energy of a working day travel time and getting ready for work can take

Although on my agreement I have 37.30

The staff usually seem to understand if they can tick their 3 jobs a fortnight tick list!

And when you have health restrictions on applying for certain jobs example cleaner dust chemicals.

So like you I can only apply for non physical jobs like Admin working a till ect.

Admin however for me was only a minor part of my employment history of working with Animals/People running a bussiness - so all my qualifications experience ect count for 0!

Realistically I find about 2 jobs a month which I think I can do with the limitations I have.

But being scared like you they will cut JSA because of the applying for 3 jobs a fortnight rule and that you have JSA because you are fit to work rule - I make sure I uselly apply for about 3 jobs fortnight but do not always write a good covering letter!

I hate doing this but don't know what else to do I can barely survive on JSA let alone without it?

I also put down my EEP courses or volunteering down. And also the waste of time Job Fit appointments.

Too well for ESA (although never tried for) and too well for DLA (got turned down first time application 2nd in post now) - as JSA Age concern think entitled!?

The job market is bad here also I just applyed for a job serving coffee PT minum wage 800 applicants they put my CV on file - this is the first reply I have had in 8 months!

I volunteer as an EPP Tutor which helps cut down job centre hassel - also I have had more trainng and courses from this than any help from the job centre or work fit programme. Volunteering for something you like can also boost self esteem and keep down the hassel from job centre and learn new skills.

Wish I could be more helpful - but helpful suggestions above and if you need someone to scream at you know where I am! take care

Thanks blackbird for your kind words. I am going to do volunteering.

Might take you up on your offer to 'scream' at you. lol :)

Thanks very much for your replies everyone. I am a bit depressed reading them and realising how many people are in the same situation as me. Guess I was hoping for a magic wand!

Will follow up your tips though.

Bev xx


Do everything the JC asks you do, be as honest as possible on your CV and application forms about your health restrictions and 'disability' and if you're lucky enough to be offered an interview tell the interviewer that it's one of your bad days and that you are feeling ill. I think (I can't prove it) I lost a job a couple of weeks ago because at 'question time' at the end of the interview I said I had just been diagnosed with a respiratory problem ( I didn't mention the depression!!) and may need support at times - what support could they offer? I really wanted this job so I did n't mention COPD - I played it down but thought I had to be honest because I know there will be times when support will be needed. The panel of 3 interviewers just looked at each other and were visibly uncomfortable. Until that moment I honestly believe the job was mine!! I was gutted when I didn't get it. still, I am not sorry that I was honest.

I don't think benefits' staff know what COPD is let alone understand it. My salary stopped this month, so yesterday I had to phone the benefits' office and had to answer 57 minutes worth of questions, I felt seriously exhausted and I could hardly talk. At the end, I was asked to complete an equal opps/diversty form. I was asked 'Have you got .......( a long list of every kind of disability/illness) I told her that I had a respiratory/lung disability that needed acknowledging - she went quiet and a couple of seconds later replied in a puzzled way, "Ooh, these were not included on the form" but she would write them down, herself!! Says it all doesn't it??

***Note for BLF staff - what about some specialist training from the BLF specifically aimed at benefits staff? Just a thought x *****

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