For January and February this year we are featuring stories from people with lupus on the topic of benefits. The first part of this month's blog has been written by Kevin about his applications for ESA and DLA whilst living with lupus. Thank you Kevin for taking the time to write this for us.
From what I have read about other people’s experiences, I guess I have been lucky.
When I applied for ESA I filled out the application myself but used guides from the Benefits & Work website (I paid £20 to join so that I could get full access to everything I needed). Using the guides they provided was crucial in how I was able to understand what DWP wanted to know. I realised I would get nowhere generalising about how SLE had changed my life. I also had chronic severe fatigue and anaemia on my medical records; At times I have problems even walking a couple of hundred yards or less. I made sure my GP was aware of this and he put it on my records. Things like that are crucial because when DWP contact my GP that will be passed to them as it is recorded, so this backs up the personal information I gave them. When filling out the form, you have to give as much information as you can. I realised that when DWP contacted my consultant, specialist nurse and GP, it is the GP who is the most important one as he knows me better (so his records on me had to be up to date). Also I knew it was my responsibility to make sure that they were.
As a result of doing all of this, after waiting about 16 weeks I got my letter from Job Centre Plus informing me I had been placed in ESA Support Group. I was not called in for a medical. My review is overdue, as it should have been in May. The initial award was for 18 months.
I also applied for DLA but that was before I had to claim ESA. I was still working then but had cut my hours down from 40 to 16 eventually and was struggling with that. I went along to my local C.A.B and got an appointment with a "specialist”. At the time I thought she was brilliant and was really pleased. Unfortunately the claim was rejected, but now I understand why. She generalised most answers on the form about my condition and there was no real, personal detail about how I coped (or didn’t) with things.
I personally wouldn’t use C.A.B again. I know there are very good advisers out there but if you can do the claim form yourself I would now recommend joining LUPUS UK as they have a professional membership to Benefits & Work, so you can get all the information you need to fill out any benefits claim form from them - and it’s cheaper than joining B&W.
Part 2 of this month's blog will be posted later this week.
As Kevin mentions in his story, LUPUS UK is a member of Benefits & Work and is therefore able to provide their guides for claims and appeals on a variety of state benefits to members of the charity. You can find out more information about the guides we have available and how to request them at lupusuk.org.uk/living-with-...