Luke Blackburn: Losing my DLA

Posted on June 29, 2012

So… Disability Living Allowance? Seems to be a piece of cake just getting it, no?

I, myself, was once the proud recipient of DLA until I failed to reapply for it.

I noticed that I hadn’t received DLA for quite a while and so I checked my bank account. To my despair, nothing had been paid in! Sweating most profusely, I contacted the DLA agency and asked what had happened?

I had failed to fill in the forms that had been sent to me a few months ago and so they cancelled my much needed funds.

“Hang on! I haven’t received any forms! “, “Well, we sent it to this address”, “But that’s my old address”, “They should have forwarded it to you?”… and so on.

This was all done by email, so I was lucky if I got a reply within the week.

This progressed into letters for which I was lucky if I got a reply within the month.

All along this time, I remained baffled by one thing, why would I have to reapply for the DLA when I have already been assessed in the past? I have proven without a doubt that I am profoundly deaf in both ears, or as I like to say “f***ed in both ears, through confirmation from my doctor and audiologist. Even my mother put her oar in and confirmed I was indeed ‘profoundly deaf and not hard-of-hearing’!

What were they expecting? Somehow, miraculously, that my hearing had returned to me?! One little sticking point: I never had hearing in the first place and so how can it return to me? The little hairs in my ears are broken, or for want of a better word, screwed.

This prompts memories of a visit to the hospital a few years back. Going to one of my infrequent visits to the audiology clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, I was expecting to be in and out within ten minutes with greasy ears as a result of having my ears plunged with delightful ear mould cream and my pocket budging with batteries (To this day, I’ve resisted the temptation to sell them on eBay and keep a few for myself).

Alas, I was faced with a painfully enthusiastic trainee audiologist who informed me cheerfully that she was doing work experience in her second year at university and asked would I mind if she checked me over.

And so, I was returned to my childhood years. Sitting in a box, I was determined to beat the bleep this time and so I strained hard to listen out for the bleep, whether it was high pitched or low pitched. I was determined to prove to the pretty lady that I was better than what was written about me on paper.

After an exhausting two or three minutes of delirious straining of the ears and clenching of my eye lids and I swear, severe RSI in my right thumb, I was tapped on the shoulder by Miss River Island. “I’m really sorry about the delay but I’ve had to call my supervisor in to check the machine for me as I can’t get it to start”.

“Oh that’s fine!” I replied. “I was just making sure that the clicker was working.”

I digress. After all the expected tests, scribbling down on paper and drawing of pretty stars and lines onto the special graph, Miss River Island seemed to be quite occupied with my results. A dozen scenarios went through my head, ridiculous ones, but nevertheless scenarios and I waited for an explanation for her hesitation. Looking at me with brimming eyes (a slight exaggeration but appropriate, I feel) she whispered, “Mr Blackburn, I’m so sorry but you’re still deaf”.

With that memory fresh in my mind, I wrote back to the DLA agency requesting my allowance be restored. Nope, I need to refill the forms in. And so, a whole afternoon was taken up by the gathering, printing off and filling in of forms.

The forms were duly sent off.

Three or four months later, I kid you not, I received a reply requesting a note from my doctor. Why didn’t they ask for this in the first place? Might have saved a bit of time?

I responded. After two weeks of waiting to see the doctor. Doctors do have to hone their golfing skills y’know? After paying £15 for the doctor to sign a piece of paper confirming that I do have a profound deafness. After being pulled back in from the top window of a bungalow, threatening to throw myself to my death. After growing a single grey hair. I responded.

Another three or four months passed. I received a pretty letter in the post. “Your application for the Disability Living Allowance has been rejected”. Why? Because I have a hearing aid, and can hear, therefore I don’t qualify.


My battle continues.

Luke Blackburn is a budding film maker who enjoys shouting at the rugby on TV in his spare time. Follow him on Twitter as @lukeblackburn

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