So this coming Tuesday is my “work capability assessment”. This is a health assessment that will determine whether I am eligible for Employment Support Allowance, which is the benefit designed for those too sick to work.
For those of you who are not in the UK, or those who are in the UK but are blissfully unaware, this assessment has a very bad reputation, and that’s putting it mildly.
There have been accusations of bullying on the part of the assessors, people who are terminally ill have been found fit for work, and most recently a judge ruled that the work capability assessment was directly related to one claimant committing suicide. You find more information about that here. This man was physically disabled, suffered from depression and agoraphobia and despite having letters from 3 doctors, he was found fit for work. He killed himself at his home on the 24th September 2013.
As well as that, at the end of August statistics were released that showed that between January 2011 and February 2014 91,740 people died whilst claiming incapacity benefit. That means that an average of 99 people have died every day…let that just sink in for a moment. I should point out the government has been trying to suppress these statistics for over a year, but in the end had to admit defeat after it was ordered to the release them.
Now I know that some of those deaths have no relation to the work capability assessment…but a significant number definitely do. More in depth analysis of the figures can he found here, and here is an article where you can read 3 stories of people who killed themselves after being found fit for work.
And if you needed any more evidence that the work capability assessment is just plain wrong, I can tell you that the United Nations is currently investigating the British government over human rights abuses towards disabled people caused by these welfare reforms.
So…what does all this mean for me on Tuesday? Well it makes me feel incredible anxious (understatement of the century). I have been on a time out from life for nearly 4 years. To have to prove my pain and suffering by showing them a record of my GP and specialist appointments, and answer questions about whether I can wash and dress myself, how far I can walk, and whether I can lift a pint of milk, is utterly demeaning.
I’m writing this post before I have my assessment because I’m sure that the assessment itself will cause a depressive episode and I won’t want to talk or think about it afterwards. I will write an update at some point, but it probably won’t be straight afterwards as I’ll be in hibernation. So…wish me luck!
Until next time, Rhosyn.