Moving goalposts on PIP eligibility

Having spent time and money acting responsibly to minimise the physical impact of her impairment, Emma Bowler fears that she may have shot herself in the foot.

When I was 17, I was awarded the higher rate mobility component of DLA for life. I got it on the basis that walking would cause a serious deterioration in my health because I have a rare disability called Kniest Syndrome, which means I am short statured and all of my joints are deformed and prone to wear and tear.

In many ways, giving me DLA was an insurance against this deterioration which would otherwise have resulted in considerable costs to the NHS. I used my DLA to get a Motability car, which enabled me to work and pay taxes [to subsidise a public transport system for non-disabled people…]

I believe that having a car, and a lifetime of carefully managing my mobility, has resulted in me still being mobile 26 years down the line.

But as I edge into my mid-40s, I feel that I have to face up to the fact that I am getting older. I can feel my joints stiffening up, aching, and the tiniest of movements can lock a hip, which is excruciatingly painful until I manage to somehow unlock it.

So one of my 2013 resolutions was to see whether gait analysis, where a specialist looks at the way you walk and sees whether this can be improved by adjusting your shoes and wearing insoles, might help.

In light of the government shifting the goalposts on eligibility for the new personal independence payments, my resolution is completely ironic because the better my mobility, the less likely I am to qualify.

This potential downgrading of my disabled status is just ridiculous. I’ve not suddenly received a miraculous cure: I still have the same condition, which is only likely to get worse.

All this government is doing is moving the goalposts so it can justify taking away money – under the guise of saving it – from the group of people it has persistently demonised as workshy benefit-scrounging scum.

The original purpose of DLA was to balance out the inequalities between disabled and non-disabled people, so where a non-disabled person could get away with not having a car because they could use public transport, many disabled people, like myself, simply couldn’t and so DLA covered that extra cost.

I will just have to find the money from somewhere to buy and maintain a car because not having a car isn’t an option for me. But I know there will be many disabled people out there who simply won’t be able to find this money and they will be forced to give up jobs, turn to social services for help, claim other benefits, be housebound or all of these things. Not only is that not saving money, it’s a horrific step back in time.

Take a minute to write to your MP and complain about this now via the the Hardest Hit website.

Emma Bowler’s website.

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