What a morning.
The last time I had a medical assessment with Capita – the people behind the Personal Independence Payment that most disabled people receive in this country – they came to my home. This was something that eased my nerves about the process I must admit, as the woman who came out was very friendly and supportive. The outcome was positive too as I was approved for PIP and that has been my income ever since, only supplemented by the brief time I was employed last month. It’s a very small amount of money, but 80% of it goes into paying some bills to take the pressure off Husband and allow us to have at least some spare cash. We have a roof over our head, bills paid and food in our bellies.
But if I didn’t have this money… I don’t know how we’d survive.
So this appointment with Capita was a big deal. Husband managed to get the morning off work to come with me, as my anxiety was through the roof. (Not helped by Lady being poorly recently, as well as still recovering from the flu myself… I don’t know how many times I need to blow my nose until the tap stops dripping.) Traffic was a nightmare getting into the centre of town, but time wasn’t too much of a problem as we knew where we needed to be.
Except… well. The building that Capita is based in, has the same name as another building only a quarter of a mile away from it. As Husband tried to park somewhere nearby, I walked into three buildings looking for the right one to get no help when I explained what I was looking for.
Try walking into a fancy building full of solicitors, their names adorning silver plaques that cover a whole fucking wall as they sip champagne with clients – then there’s me shuffling to reception, in my tattered jeans and parka, no make-up, covered in spots with my wet hair up in a bun. It was humiliating.
By the time Husband found me, I was on verge of throwing up out of fear and nerves. We were running 20 minutes late, but after another gamble on the GPS he insisted that we rush to the other building and not leave until we’d seen someone. That plan didn’t work however.
Like I say, the actual place we needed to be was only a couple of minutes away on foot. We got there, got to the reception, explained why we were late and apologised profusely. The receptionist wasn’t all that sympathetic and explained that they only allowed 20 minutes for late shows. We were just over 25 minutes late. Before we could say anything else, she’d already turned to her colleague and confirmed that there were no more appointment slots for that day. She said again about the 20 minute allowance, to which Husband showed her the letter we’d received that said NOTHING about being late. She nonchalantly said that it should have been.
Well, Barack Obama should have been given a third term in office, but there’s sod all to be done about that. They could’ve put in a late clause in the large print letter they sent me.
Husband asked if we could rebook a home visit instead, to be told that they can’t do that at the centre. Husband asked if we could book an appointment there as a placeholder, try to get a home visit and if we did then allow us to cancel the centre appointment. She said I’m only allowed one re-book of an appointment, and doing that would essentially screw it all up. There was no wiggle room at all. Husband kept his cool despite clearly wanting to shout at her, I desperately tried not to throw up on her and cry.
We came home, Husband called the Capita number and was told they had no home visit or centre appointments available to give. When he asked if the length of waiting time would affect my benefit, she didn’t sound positive that it wouldn’t. So I’m going to wait until after 5pm today to see if anything’s available – if there’s no home visit option then at least I know where the centre is, but I’d have to go on my own as Husband’s job means he can’t spend an awful lot of time off work. And also try not to puke everywhere when I get there.
My present and future relies on this money. If I don’t get seen and subsequently lose my right to this benefit, then I don’t know what that will do to my family. That frightens me.
I’m shattered. I’m still not 100% over the flu, I’m exhausted from looking after a poorly pup – she had me up two nights in a row with her bad tummy – and I know Husband is stressed and tired too. I just want life to give us a bit of a break right now.
Am I still disabled? Yes. Is that going to change? Not any time soon. Do I need this benefit to survive? Definitely.