I've recently been for a DLA appeal for my first claim. I claimed after I received my diagnosis of FMS, CFS (Which was dated back to 1993) and Fat Pad Disease (a rare condition affecting knees and knuckles) I'd had a diagnosis of severe depression in 2009.
First of all the tribunal had not received my submission and supporting evidence from the Administrative centre. They confirmed on the telephone to me they had received them, but the panel or clerk on the day did not.
This may explain why the DWP sent someone along also (which I was assured was unlikely to happen). So it felt to me that they had already had a certain approach thought out in their questioning and my excellent relevant and crucial supporting evidence from the actual GP who saw me regularly (not the GP that filled in my report at reconsideration) and my consulatant who both backed my claim and documented how I have difficulties with self care particularly. My GP stated in his report at the end that he felt I was entitled to DLA 'at probably the middle rate' after being factual and very clear in his approach.
Anyway, they had a 2 minute glance over those and asked me in.
I was asked the most bizarre set of questions from the chair. He asked why and where I had lived in 2008!?? If I was in a domestic violence relationship at that time!? And when I moved back to my home town and what sort of accommodation I was in. I was also asked about my mothers employment and about my father (who committed suicide in 2002) I was then asked how old I was when he committed suicide as though it was a trick question!?!
All of this a long time ago and COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT!? I was then subject to the smarmy doctors questioning who asked why I couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone when my rheumatologists follow up appointment never arrived earlier this year. I was moving house and knew I would have to wait until my doctors notes caught up at my new surgery. Also following things like this up is part of my problem, however I never managed to explain that as I was too brow beaten by his tone.
The disabled rep then started asking lots of questions about the care of my 5 month old baby at the time of my claim in January 2012. I told her I had constant help and the chair added that depressed people would not be able to accept that amount of visitors. The disabled rep also laughed at me when I told her my baby's baby grow did not normally need changing more than once and day. She thought this was 'incredible'. Anyway, every one of them including the DWP rep had a comment each to suggest I was lying. It was more like a cross examination from the prosecution in a criminal trial to discredit me.
The chair ended by saying it was clear I'd had a good education and asked about my GCSE's which I told him I never completed due to glandular fever and fatigue. He then added it was clear I could communicate with people in a difficult situation. I'd put on my form I had trouble communicating in terms of dealing with household and personal admin through telephone calls and stated that my depression and anxiety made it difficult to get it together to sort these things and that it tied in with my destructive self neglect.
I was told I could wait outside whilst they came to a decision, I was then told after waiting that they would send it out in the post. Incedentally I did not see the DWP rep leave the room, I'm sure she did but it owuld have had to have been a good 5 minutes after I left. It hasn't arrived and they can't tell me over the phone so its a waiting game now.
I felt it was highly demeaning and aggressive, and the fact they never had the full evidence going in makes me angry.
I'm beginning to not care if I get turned down and my attention is more on how many other people they are doing this to when they are meant to be impartial and look at the evidence. I'm sure as I have heard there are many panels who are indeed impartial and seemingly more understanding with a better line of questioning but I feel under no illusion this panel had preconceptions and sounded as though they didn't believe one iota of what I was saying. I am a singer/songwriter and am writing a song to send out to the likes of the Black Triangle and many other people. It's a protest song about the whole business of the condemnation of the poor.
Watch this space!