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This is a page from my blog, Ron's Rants, which I thought it might be useful to post here.
The original contains an assortment of links, mostly to benefits claim and information web pages, but because of the sheer size of this page - over 5,000 words - I don't feel able to go through both it, and the blog page, and copy over the links. It's just too much work (don't forget, I'm sick, too, and the original page has been put together over a period of weeks), so if it interests you, I recommend clicking the above link and visiting the original page. (Once you've done that, clicking the Home tab at the top of the page will take you to my current posts.)
I have to say that it's become one of my most popular pages, so there's obviously a need for what I consider basic, nuts and bolts, information on disabilities, illness, and the associated problems.
From Ron's Rant's, October 9 2008, et seq.
I occasionally post in response to Google searches that bring people to my blog, when what they're looking for isn't already covered. These searches generally relate to benefits, medications, Motability, ME/CFS and COPD, and for the most part, and I'll do my best to cover them here. Note:- Benefit answers aren't just off the top of my head, they're properly researched, even if I already know the answer, as is anything else I don't have personal knowledge of.
Obviously, by its nature, this is a work in progress, so if you have any questions about the above subjects, the areas in which I have personal experience, post a question in Comments and if I can answer it, I will (NOTE:- Comments are moderated before being posted, so I can read them and delete them for those who require confidentiality):-
Can my wife work if I get DLA?
Absolutely - it matters not at all who works, even you (see below). Conversely, if they qualify, both partners can claim DLA - one person's claim has no effect on another.
Return to work and lose your DLA?
There is no reason why working, of itself, should cost you your DLA. DLA can be paid regardless of income, wages or savings. It is paid for mobility or care - or both - and the need is not automatically obviated by working. I believe that if a claimant starts work, then that will trigger a DLA review, and THAT may result in loss of benefit, but it need not. I used to know a guy who worked and claimed Mobility Allowance, as it was before it was DLA, but his disability was incontrovertible - he'd lost a leg, and no-one can argue with that. Were I able to return to work - fat chance - then, because of the nature of my disability, I would find it very hard to justify continuing to claim DLA, and I would almost certainly be re-assessed, and lose it. The bottom line - working does not automatically prevent you claiming DLA, or retaining it if you already have it, it all depends on what's wrong with you.
Attendance Allowance & COPD
That depends on age. Up to the age of 65 the benefit is DLA; over 65 you can no longer claim DLA but you can claim Attendance Allowance. In either case, the benefit is payable for COPD, providing it is sufficiently disabling. As with any illness, simply having it isn't a qualification, it's the disability that counts.
Presumably the questioner wants to know if you can drink with Clenil Modulite, a steroid inhaler. The answer is yes. Unlike oral drugs, inhaled drugs go straight to the lungs, they don't get there via the GI tract and the blood stream, so alcohol has little/no effect. There is, though, with CM at high doses (2 puffs 4 times daily and up), the prospect of systemic side effects like those you get with oral steroids, including weight gain, which alcohol will exacerbate.
DLA medical examination uk - how to pass
It's not a matter of passing - it's not a driving test and there are no right or wrong answers to the questions.
The simple answer is to always tell the truth. That is, the version of the truth which is beneficial to your claim. If, say, you can walk a mile every few months on a rare good day, but usually are restricted to a short distance, then the latter is the truth in reply to the questions about how far you can walk. Actually, the question is about how many metres/yards you can walk without pain or discomfort. In my case, as pain accompanies every thing I do, the answer is zero. If it's, in your case, say 40 yards, don't say 10 yards, because there's a good chance they'll take you for a walk - they did with me (and just saying ouch, ouch, when you reach your limit won't wash!). Basically, it's what your normal situation is that matters - you don't tell them about good days. That's not dishonesty, it's irrelevant. You don't say how much you can do if someone helps you, either. It's all about your unaided capabilities.
Unlike in the past, you don't apply for the components of DLA (they used to be separate benefits, Attendance Allowance and Mobility Allowance), you submit a blanket application and wait and see what you get.
A medical examination is pretty standard, to verify your disability, and if you take a lot of medication for your condition, you may think it's a good idea to reduce it or just not take it - I couldn't possibly comment. I would suggest, though, that you insist on being examined at home. My personal view is that if you are well enough to go trekking off across town - or further if you live in a rural area - then that might adversely influence how you are perceived.
If you are asked to perform any actions that you feel would be harmful, then refuse. I can't kneel, for example, and if asked to demonstrate that, or climb stairs, or bend down - anything, in fact, that involves bending my knees beyond an absolute minimum, I would refuse, because it would damage my knees, the ligaments, and leg muscles, and I'd be even more disabled for weeks. They cannot refuse your benefit on the grounds of your refusal; you are within your rights to refuse to injure yourself. Explain, though, just don't say no.
If you have a mental illness, then you may want to take a close friend with you who can speak for you, or seek a benefits advocate, if you feel it would be difficult for you to properly explain your situation. In fact, I would suggest that anyone does this if the claim is turned down and goes to appeal. One thing you should not do, at appeal, is come up with new stuff that you should have told them in the first place, it just makes them suspicious. Unless, of course, your condition has deteriorated in the meantime. And one thing to bear in mind is that most rejected claims are granted on appeal.
Appeals are a pain in the butt. I've never been to one, but I understand that you're pretty much treated as if you're lying. My advice is to be firm with them but, no matter how justified you might feel, never lose your temper. A favourite tactic is to repeatedly ask the same question. My advice is that asking twice is acceptable, more than that is not, and a polite "We've covered that at length, can we move on? would be perfectly in order.
I'm sorry I can't be more precise than this, but everyone's experience of the application process is different. I've never had any problems with benefits, though I'm wary of applying for the middle care rate (I already get lower care and higher mobility), as every time you apply you're reassessed, and that's risky.
I also know, very well (this isn't hearsay from the Daily Mail!), a woman who is little more than a hypochondriac, yet in her time she has managed to get every disability benefit available, including direct payments to hire her own care staff. Go figure.
One final though - fill in the downloadable application form from here . That way you'll have a copy of everything. Also, you may find it easier to type your answers on separate sheets of paper. This is acceptable as long as your name and NI number is at the top of each sheet, and you show the numbers of the questions your answers relate to. I also date and sign each page, but that's not a requirement.
Clenil Modulite gains weight
Not necessarily. Like any other steroid, it all depends on the dose. As I say above, at high doses with this high-strength inhaler (2 puffs 4 times a day), you get pretty much the same systemic effects as with oral steroids like Prednisolone (Prednisone in the US), including weight gain, and you should carry a steroid card. Clenil Modulite is a replacement for Becloforte, and contains the same drug with a CFC-free propellant, so you should expect the same side-effects. In addition I'm convinced that it causes increased sputum production, which is not a good thing.
Tesco website access issues
For a major player in the online retail market, Tesco's website is pretty rubbish. The only way to ensure proper functionality in all areas is to access it via Internet Explorer - it malfunctions badly and unpredictably with Firefox, though it seems OK with Opera now.
How long am I contracted to my motability
I'm not entirely certain what the questioner is asking, but the standard period for DLA-based contracts (HP or lease), is three years.
Help, I can't get d.l.a. and I'm ill
A common complaint sadly, but being ill isn't a qualification for DLA - being disabled by your illness is - the two are quite different. There is some advice about DLA above, and also elsewhere on this blog - type DLA into the search box at top right, and the titles of the posts it throws up will show which are relevant (DLA also cops up in posts which aren't about benefits. In addition, if you're in the same position, post a comment and I'll see if I can help. Comments are moderated before they appear, so if you want confidentiality say so, and I'll delete your personal details.
What distance do you have to walk to not
I'm assuming that the missing part of the question is "qualify for DLA." The questioner has got this badly wrong - it's not that simple; not remotely. The questions relating to walking cover subjects like how far you can walk without "severe discomfort", and how long it takes you. In addition there are questions about how long it takes to walk a specified distance in one minute (don't guess and don't exaggerate, they'll probably check), and the manner in which you walk. I was going to guess the 1-minute distance, but I decided not to, got out my stop-watch (most digital watches include this function if you don't actually have a stop-watch), and timed how far I could get in a minute. This was indoors, on the level (outoors - and I hit a hill within a few paces - it would be less), and by the end I was uncomfortably short of breath and in considerable pain in a mere 40 yards. Had I guessed I'd have got it badly wrong and done myself no favours at all.
The best advice I can offer anyone about to apply for DLA is not to ask Google vague questions like this - it probably won't yield anything useful - but to download a copy of the DLA application form from here Read the notes that accompany the form thoroughly, too, as well as my advice on this page, and elsewhere in this blog (use the search box at top right). Then, if you still need advice, you know exactly what questions to ask.
Can I join the army if i get DLA?
Doh! I nearly fell of my chair when I read that one - I don't think I've ever seen such a ludicrous idea. Look, DLA - DISABILITY Living Allowance, OK? What part of disability are you having problems with? You stand a good chance, these days, of becoming disabled while in the army, or dead, but if you're already disabled, forget it - how would you even get through basic training, required even for a desk job? On the other hand, if you are fit enough to join the army, WTF are you doing claiming DLA?
Can I claim disability benefit with cfs?
Simple answer, yes. The illness is pretty irrelevant - what matters is the degree of disability; if you meet the criteria, you get the benefits (or, rather, you should get the benefits - it's never guaranteed). I have to say, though, that ME/CFS sufferers frequently have difficulty demonstrating that they are disabled (even, in fact, that they're actually ill), and I'd recommend seeking advice (and representation if it goes to an appeal tribunal), from a benefits advice centre, to help you make your case.
DLA emphysema, uk
Emphysema never exists in isolation, and comes under the general heading of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and all the DLA information here relating to COPD also covers emphysema.
How to get off Incapacity Benefit?
If you're on IB presumably you're too ill to work, so why would you want to get off it? If you are on it while not genuinely qualifying, getting off is easy - just admit your claim was fraudulent. There will, of course, be well-deserved consequences. Frankly, I'm baffled by this - despite what the Daily Mail claims, the vast majority of claimants are, like me, genuinely ill and unable to work, and we need IB. However, if anyone really wants to get off IB, for whatever reason, just write to your local office and tell them your circumstances have changed and you no longer qualify. That will start the process, but you'll have to explain why and, if you're not working you'll be transferred to Jobseekers Allowance or maybe Income Support. Unless you are perfectly well, and have a job to go to, you won't be left entirely without benefits.
direct payments the same as DLA
Presumably, that’s a question rather than a statement, and the answer is no, they’re not. Direct payments are local council payments for people who have been assessed as needing help from social services, and who would like to arrange and pay for their own care and support services instead of receiving them directly from the local council. See the web page here http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/FinancialSupport/DG_10016128
When did Invalidity Benefit become Incapacity Benefit?
April 13, 1995. The benefit is linked to a claimant's NI contributions prior to their becoming unable to work, plus a whole range of variables, so no two people are likely to get the same amount. There are two short-term rates: the lower rate is paid for the first 28 weeks of sickness and the higher rate for weeks 29 to 52. The long-term rate applies to people who have been sick for more than a year. The higher short-term rate and the long-term rate are treated as taxable income.
How to pass a DLA medical
There is no secret formula for passing the medical. For most people, if they are genuinely sick, and sufficiently disabled, they'll pass. I say most, because some genuine cases do slip through the net, but most refusals are reversed on appeal, I believe. Believe nobody who tells you they know how to pass - everybody's experience of the process is different, and it's impossible to generalise. Two things I would tell everybody, though - no matter how much you may be provoked, never get angry and don't raise your voice. These people aren't on your side to begin with, so you don't want to piss them off. That doesn't mean you aren't allowed to challenge them if they're being a pain in the butt, but be polite and civil about it.
Where you do get problems is with illness like ME/CFS (or mental illness, extremely hard to prove to an outsider, but it can be terribly disabling), where the symptoms are almost entirely subjective and there is no diagnostic test. That's not helped, either, by the DWP classing ME/CFS as a "psycho-social" condition, not the neurological illness it really is according to the WHO. I have severe ME/CFS, and it's been properly diagnosed, by an expert in the field and at an NHS clinic, not by some lunatic-fringe therapist. Even so, I'd have a hard time convincing a stranger, like a DWP doctor, that I'm ill, as I look perfectly well, like many people with ME/CFS. Luckily (ha!), I have far worse problems than ME/CFS, and my benefits don't depend on it. Even that's no guarantee that the DWP trolls won't try to fuck with my life at some point. The Pensions Credit side of the operation has reassessed me three times this year - do the fuckwits think I'm somehow getting younger? The third time I lost patience and sent a furious letter complaining of harassment and victimisation. No response, though.
There is advice on this on this page and elsewhere in the blog, on how to complete the application form - use the search function to look for DLA, and IB50. IB50 is the Incapacity Benefit form, but the the advice applies to DLA too. If, however, you're not confident when it comes to form-filling, do enlist the support of a benefits advice centre in your area. In addition, support groups for your particular illness often publish advice on claiming DLA.
How far can you run with COPD?
If you're on disability benefit and asking this question, you shouldn't be! However, for mild to moderate COPD, running is perfectly acceptable, as long as you know your limits. I used to run - before I realised what a boring pastime it really is. For me, leisure walking - rambling, backpacking, whatever - is far more suited to COPD, as they're more endurance-orientated than running, and running out of puff won't stop you dead. Running depends on an efficient cardiovascular system, but walking doesn't, not to the same extent, anyway. I could walk 15-25 miles, but I could only run half a mile before collapsing in a gasping, twitching heap. This is nothing to do with c-v fitness - in COPD the lungs are irreparably damaged, and no amount of training will compensate for that. Note for the DWP - I'm talking about long before I became seriously ill!
DLA approaching 65
If you already get DLA at 65, you retain your entitlement. If you're approaching 65 and you're thinking of applying, do it now - at 65 your entitlement to apply for DLA ends. You can apply for Attendance allowance over 65, though.
Does having COPD entitle me to claim Incapacity Benefit?
I think I've covered this elsewhere but I'm too idle to check. So, no illness actually entitles you to any benefits whatsoever. What matters is the degree of disability an illness causes. So yes, with COPD you can claim IB - DLA too, if you wish - but there's no guarantee you'll get anything. If COPD is so severe it prevents you from working, or makes you unemployable as a result of excessive sick leave - which amounts to the same thing - then there's a good chance you'll get it (if you don't, then appeal), although new claimants now apply for ESA, I believe, which is harder to get than IB**. True, that will help weed out frauds, but it will also penalise genuine cases, too - approach with care and, if unsure, get help from a benefits advice organisation (ask at the CAB).
DLA has always been harder to claim than IB, as there is every chance you'll be subjected to a medical examination (I was, 22 years ago, and things have been tightened up since), so work on your application and don't treat it casually - see above and elsewhere on this blog.
There are posts here about COPD, IB, DLA and ESA - use the search function to track them down. The advice for claiming DLA and IB is, to a great extent, interchangeable. ESA is still an unknown quantity, until personal experiences start to feed back into the system.
**If you became ill prior to October 27 2008 then you can still apply for Incapacity Benefit. If you became ill on or after October 27, then you will need to apply for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) See this page for information.
Paracetamol and exercise
OK, this is a personal view, as I'm unsure what's meant. Paracetamol, for anything other than a headache, is pretty inadequate on its own, even though it's the analgesic of choice for many doctors. However, combined with a more potent analgesic, like codeine, as in Co-codamol, or taken in conjunction with dihydrocodeine, then it can be very effective. On its own it is, I believe, incapable of reducing pain to the point at which exercise becomes possible.
Co-codamol comes in 2 flavours, the over-the-counter version, with 8mg of codeine and the prescription-only version, with 30mg, both combined with 500mg of Paracetamol - it goes without saying that the latter is better. My pain, though, progressed beyond the point where 30/500 Co-codamol was effective, and I was prescribed dihydrocodeine (DHC) - the sustained-release version, and it was with that, for me, that Paracetamol came into its own.
Eventually, the effectiveness of DHC began to lessen, probably because I was taking only half the prescribed dose (the full dose was 120mg every 12 hours - I only took the morning dose because all opioid analgesics are constipating and, with the full amount I was locked solid - I also wanted to keep something in reserve for the days when the pain got away from me), and I started looking for something that would give DHC a boost.
I was still prescribed Co-codamol, and while that, combined with DHC, was excellent (yep, I do know you're not supposed to do that - I don't care, it's my pain, I'll deal with it, especially as the only really effective alternative was alcohol, and that brings its own problems), but in Sainsbury's one day I picked up some Paracetamol on a whim. And here's an interesting fact - otc sales of Paracetamol are restricted to reduce the risk of suicide, but the maximum quantity you can buy otc is 25% more than the lethal dose - how the hell does that work?
Anyway, I quickly found that taking Paracetamol while the DHC was in my system was amazingly effective - a bit like a giant Co-codamol. So, I take my DHC at 5 in the morning, then go back to bed, so that it's in my system by the time I get up then, later, I'll take 2 Paracetamol if I need them, repeated 4 hours later at need (a caveat: I have no idea if this is officially sanctioned – all I can say is that it works, and has done me no harm, and that’s good enough for me). That gets me through to the point where DHC has pretty much worn off, then I revert to Co-codamol at 5 in the evening which, as I'm far less active by then (for a given value of active), is good enough.
Mobility scooters in snow
My experience is that in snow up to 2 or 3 centimetres there are few problems (depending, of course, on the size of your wheels - tiny, transportable scooters would fail miserably). One problem is the prospect of snow finding its way into the electronics, but that's the same problem as with rain anyway, but when you come back indoors, you'll bring a fair amount of snow with you, stuck to the underside - a bummer if your scooter lives in the house/flat. Studded tyres are desirable, of course, but many scooters seem to come with a version of that sort of tyre, though any tyre will work, with care. Just be aware that stopping distances are likely to be increased, and don't stop suddenly - you're liable to just go straight on in a skid.
The main problem in snow, or in winter in general, is that the cold will shorten your range, often dramatically, but taking batteries off-charge immediately before going out will ensure that they at least start off warm. And, of course, if you ride on the road, with a Class 3 scooter, you will get absolutely covered in crap! Several layers of fleece, topped with a waterproof, will keep you snug, at least on short journeys, but remember that you can only get colder, you are not generating any heat yourself, and hypothermia is a real threat.
Co-codamol and COPD
Co-codamol, as I’ve said elsewhere, is a 500mg Paracetamol-based analgesic, with either 8mg or 30mg of codeine, the first being little more effective than plain Paracetamol in my view, though others may experience it differently.
In COPD (and in asthma), Co-codamol, especially the more potent version, can cause respiratory depression, as can all the opioid analgesics. However, to my doctor’s apparent disbelief, this doesn’t happen to me, despite the fact that I’m taking 30/500 Co-codamol, codeine linctus (the only alternative being to cough til I puke, or pass out), and Dihydrocodeine, which carries a higher risk of respiratory depression.
“Can cause respiratory depression” is not the same as “will cause,” of course, and if the pain warrants it then codeine-containing drugs should at least be tried, as not everyone reacts in the same way. In theory, I should barely be able to breathe at all, in reality, there’s not the slightest problem - my PEF and FEV1 are no worse with codeine and dihydrocodiene than without. Suck it and see.
Can you claim anything forCOPD?
Yes, of course. I've said this before, but it bears repeating - entitlement to disability benefits has nothing to do with any particular illness, but with the degree of disability. If you meet the criteria, you'll get the benefits. Read this post, and others. Type COPD or IB50 into the search box; IB50 is the Incapacity Benefit form, but the advice applies to DLA too. If your illness dates from before October 27 2008, you can claim IB, otherwise you'll have to claim ESA.
How far back can DLA be claimed for?
If you request a claim pack, then a successful claim is backdated to that point; if you apply online, it dates from the time you complete the form. For downloaded forms, the date is that on which the completed form is received by the DWP. DLA isn't otherwise retrospective - the time when you became ill, for example, no matter how long ago, doesn't count.
Clenil Modulite doesn't work as well
There is absolutely no reason why not. It's a direct replacement for Becloforte - same drug, Beclometasone Dipropionate, at exactly the same dose, 250mcg per puff, and patient response should be the same. There are some differences - it makes sputum horribly sweet and, for me at least, this masks the taste change that marks a burgeoning infection, and I believe very strongly that it increases sputum production, though it's impossible to quantify. I feel exactly the same otherwise, and my PEF and FEV1 figures are unchanged - and if you're sick enough to need Clenil Modulite, you should be monitoring these functions at least daily. Waiting for your annual check-up isn't good enough.
Does DLA stop when you reach 65?
I've covered this elsewhere, but what the hell... No, it doesn't stop at 65 - if you're getting it, you carry on getting it, how long for depends on the individual claim. What does stop at 65, however, is the right to claim DLA. People 65 and older - the exact period many people become increasingly disabled - can claim Attendance Allowance. There's a link to the form on this blog - type Attendance Allowance into the search box.
Is COPD a disability in the uk?
No, COPD is not, of itself, a disability - no illness is. What makes an illness a disability is its severity.
Can anyone take my DLA off me?
In theory, yes. DLA is subject to review at any time, no matter what the period of the award. Reviews can go either way, though, and you could wind up with more money if your condition justifies it.
Clenil Modulite weight loss
CM is a steroid inhaler, and if the dose is high enough (2 puffs 4 times a day), then systemic side effects, as with oral steroids, will occur (and a steroid card needs to be carried). The most conspicuous systemic side effect is weight gain. However, weight loss can occur, and is listed as a side-effect serious enough to need medical attention. It is important, though, not to stop taking it until you have seen your doctor, who will provide an alternative if s/he believes it's indicated. I can't stress that strongly enough - suddenly stopping a steroid inhaler is dangerous and, in extreme cases, can be fatal.
On a personal note, loss of appetite is also a side effect that needs medical attention (I discovered, while researching this reply), and that's been affecting me for months. Even so, my weight has tended to move slowly but remorselessly upwards. Must get it checked out, though.
Can I join the army if I applied for disability benefits?
That's the second time this question has cropped up, and it's got me baffled (is it the same person, I wonder?).
If, indeed, you are disabled enough to claim disability benefits, then there is no way you can join the army - even desk jockeys have to complete basic training. If, though, your disability was temporary, and its cause has now been cured (an injury, perhaps), then as long as you are perfectly fit now, and assuming you've notified the DWP of that and are no longer claiming benefits, then I see no reason why you shouldn't apply.
The cynic in me, though, suspects that this might be someone who has managed to fraudulently claim benefits and now wishes they hadn't. If this is the case, then they're hoist by their own petard - the only way out is to admit what they've done, take their lumps and then apply to the army. Whether they'd take a such a crook, though, is debatable.
Do you get DLA and Incapacity Benefit over 65?
How long is a piece of string? Two questions, but more than two answers, so let's deal with DLA first. If you successfully claim DLA before your 65th birthday, then you keep the benefit once you turn 65. You cannot apply for DLA once you reach 65, or afterwards - the relevant benefit then is Attendance Allowance (info elsewhere on this page). Now then, Incapacity Benefit - if you became ill prior to October 27 2008 (that's signed off "on the sick" by your GP, not just feeling crappy - there has to be a record), then yes, you can apply for IB. If you became ill (same criteria), on or after October 27, then you're saddled with ESA - and the very best of luck with that!