Spartacus Stories

Here is a collection of Stories written by many different disabled people about the impact that DLA has on their lives. It also includes stories of fear about the proposed changes to personal independence payment.

Admin: benefitscroungingscum, Lucia and Lucy
to add your story email us at spartacusstories @ g mail . com (without the spaces) (your posts are there, just being scheduled throughout the day) (can you add how you want your 'name' to appear ta)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Objectively Disordered #spartacusstories #spartacusreport

What’s in a word?

Quite a bit as it may turn out.

With government spending cuts in the news we’ve heard a lot about what is and is not considered “fair” of late, but for people with disabilities the key word may soon turn out to be “objective”.

Do you know what it means?

Are you sure?

The Emergency Budget 2010 explained that we needed “objective medical assessments” to bring down the bills.

1.103 The Government will reform the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to ensure support is targeted on those with the highest medical need. The Government will introduce the use of objective medical assessments for all DLA claimants from 2013-14 to ensure payments are only made for as long as a claimant needs them.

The policy costings were even more clear…

Measure description:
This measure will introduce an objective medical assessment and revised eligibility criteria for both new and existing working-age claims for Disability Living Allowance, to be rolled out from 2013/14. The assessment will follow a similar process to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) used for claims to Employment and Support Allowance, with a points based system to assess eligibility to the different rates of the benefit.

All well and good, you might think. It’s only right that taxpayers have the reassurance that our disabilities have been proven to the satisfaction of a doctor.

Indeed, that was acknowledged over a decade ago when private firm ATOS first won the contract to send “independent” GPs around to the home of DLA claimants to make sure they were genuine. The opinions of your regular GP can be too easily swayed, whereas governmental influence as paymaster in no way compromises the independence of an ATOS doctor. Their new contract for Work Capability Assessments has helpfully been rewritten to only stipulate the involvement of a “medical professional” which can be anything from a Spanish physiotherapist to a Bulgarian midwife (no news of any vets as yet but that’s probably only a matter of time) and now you have to go to their offices. Sometimes these are even accessible.

So no, it’s not about obtaining a professional medical opinion it would seem, otherwise we’d simply accept a Consultant’s report like the Swiss system does. If you’re a regular SkepticLawyer reader you may now be thinking disability… objective… DAMAGES! (give the law nerd a cookie)

When legal damages are assessed they are usually assessed objectively. However, ONE type of damage – pain and suffering – is assessed subjectively in personal injuries matters (which would seem appropriate for a benefit relating to disability).

“Subjective” criteria would be the the description of the pain and suffering experienced by the victim in his or her own words. ”Objective” criteria would be the description of the likely pain and suffering experienced by the victim BY A THIRD-PARTY, a “reasonable” non-specialist (yes, that man on the Clapham omnibus for example).

There would thus be no barrier to using OBJECTIVE presumptions about the nature of restrictions to the life of a disabled person (levels of physical adaptation for example) rather than consulting the SUBJECTIVE experience of the individual disabled person themselves (details of accessibility in their own particular work and/or living environment for example).

Personal case in point, there is an “accessible” train to my local FE college which means that I can access study. In actual fact accessibility has only been provided for wheelchairs, the scooter *I* own has been declared “too large” by train company staff who have also refused to let me use the bike space where it *WOULD* fit. So who is correct, the train company that says their service is accessible or the disabled person who says it is not? Obviously some level of standardization is desirable otherwise disabled adaptation becomes unaffordable for transport companies, but as a benefit claimant should I be financially penalized for failing to take up a course at that college when I’m unable to get there?

And don’t even get me started on what does and does not constitute a “medical” need (just ask someone who has managed to get an electric wheelchair out of the NHS, if you can get them to stop swearing for long enough).

Fellow “spoonies” and other people with invisible disabilities can only hope that after the Harrington Report their DWP Decision Maker doesn’t go beyond the normal rubber stamping of the mock medical and google Merriam-Webster to support their interpretation of the legislation …

Definition of OBJECTIVE
of a symptom of disease: perceptible to persons other than the affected individual — compare subjective 4c

Although that WOULD cut the DLA budget by the desired 20%…

* In DaveBath-speak that’s “fractally wrong”, ie. wrong at every possible level of magnification. See also Catholic teaching on natural law and same-sex attraction, discussed by regular commenter Lorenzo at his blog">here.

Originally posted here

  Originally posted as part of the One Month Before Heartbreak Campaign Jan, 2011

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