Family misfortunes

Last Wednesday (5 July), my sister emailed

Hello Bruce.
The department  for work and Pensions Phoned me this afternoon to say that they will come to our house
on Thursday 13 of july at 9.15 and the test will last 1hour or 1.1/2 hours
The telephone number is 08081788114.
I will need to talk to my boss about changing my shift.

This resulted from the DWP informing her in May that she would no longer receive Disability Living Allowance, and so had to claim PIP. After quite a lot of discussion about how to describe her special needs accurately and fully, we submitted a claim on 16 June.

So yesterday I left Merchiston at 3pm, and arrived at the parental abode in Worcester at about 11pm, thanks to a delayed flight. This morning, I was ready to meet the DWP assessor by 9am, armed with copies of my sister’s claim form and a few questions. (These ranged from ‘how can we make this process go smoothly all round?’ to ‘what training and/or qualifications do you have for assessing people such as my sister?’

It’s worth noting that in all other claims for state support for disabilities that I’ve seen, it has never been necessary to interrogate claimants face-to-face in this way. The state bureaucracies, whatever other faults they may have had, have always believed statements and any submitted documentary evidence.

So 9:15 rolled around, then 9:30, then 9:45 and 10:00, with no sign of the DWP person. We called the DWP helpline, who stated that my sister didn’t have an appointment today. In fact, they stated that there was no appointment, because my sister had not called them back to confirm she would be available at this time. As far as I’m aware, my sister does not lie. She does have some trouble interpreting things, but she has a very good memory, she does not tell untruths and she has no hearing problems. In any case, she was adamant that the DWP had simply told her that the visit would take place this morning.

We told this to the DWP operator but he wasn’t having any of it. We then moved on to when my sister could be seen. It took several minutes for the systems to tell the operator that no home visits were available. He then looked into options for appointments at DWP premises. Eventually the system ground out a possibility of being seen this Monday at mid-day. We accepted that with haste – the other options would have been when I’m due to be on holiday out of the UK. Finally, I asked whether DWP would refund the money I’d wasted coming to Worcester for a non-existent appointment. Er, no!

One of the quirks of my sister’s employer is that it requires 7 weeks’s notice of holiday requests. Its switchboard also has a history of failing to pass on messages. For example, on the day of our father’s funeral, my sister’s team leader phoned to ask why she wasn’t at work, despite us having phoned to arrange compassionate leave. So we took ourselves off to the employer – about 45 minutes away by bus. Fortunately, my sister’s team leader was in, understood the situation, and promised to swap some shifts around so my sister can attend the DWP appointment on Monday.

Back at the ancestral pile, it was time to crack on with paperwork, using a very slow printer and a 1-page-at-a-time scanner:

  1. Scan my sister’s newly-arrived Powers of Attorney (20 pages each), then assemble the individual pages into a single PDF.
  2. Print a two-pages-per-side copy of each PoA for my sister’s records.
  3. Put each page of both PoAs into InDesign documents, then add I certify that this is a true and complete copy of the corresponding page of the original lasting power of attorney. to  the foot of each page.
  4. Export the InDesign documents to PDFs, then print the PDFs.
  5. My sister then signed and dated below the added text on each page, to create certified copies of both PoAs for my brother. (He’s my sister’s other attorney.)
  6. Repeat step 1 for our mother’s two PoAs.
  7. Repeat step 2 for our mother’s two PoAs.
  8. Repeat step 3 for our mother’s two PoAs.
  9. Repeat step 4 for our mother’s two PoAs.
  10. Repeat step 5 for our mother’s two PoAs. (Of course, this time my mother signed and dated each page.)
  11. Scan each page of the certified copies, then assemble these into two multi-page PDFs.
  12. Email these to my mother’s bank (CCed to my brother)
  13. Post the physical certified copies of the PoAs to a different department of my mother’s bank.
  14. Triage around 50 documents relating to banking and finances, state benefits etc that my sister received since January, deciding which to keep and which are recyclable.
  15. File the ones that are worth keeping, ensuring I have PDFs of each. (After a few false starts, my sister usually scans and emails me such documents.)
  16. Collapse for 10 minutes, then come back to Edinburgh. I got home about 23:15.

That’s it – for now. I’m so not looking forward to travelling back to Worcester on Sunday evening for the next round with the DWP.


1 thought on “Family misfortunes

  1. Pingback: The judge sits on his great assize | Digital evidence that Bruce might have a life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.