James Davies: The tyranny of the PIP overlords

Posted on July 4, 2015

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My name is James Davies, I am 24 years old. I am a recent cochlear implantee (as of Feb 2013). Prior to that I always wore hearing aids. I live in the South of England in rural Surrey, employed as a Project Engineer.

I started the process of applying to PIP some point late May 2014.

I had realised that I needed some form of help as I gained more independence (I was moving out) and needed some financial help. My friends at the time (deaf peers) recommended I apply for DLA (they didn’t know at that point it was called PIP) and said that it was a fairly straightforward process.

So I started my research. I found that DLA no longer exists for adults, it was re-named PIP and changed under the new Tory government. Ok I thought – just a new name and system.

The first problem I came across was pretty obvious. The only way I could get the application form was contacting them via phone, now obviously I can’t do this at all.

So I thought, ok I’ll look for an email address since this is the internet age and surely they would have one. NOPE, zero zilch nada… there’s no form of email contact to request an application form.

So I contacted a charity in Farnborough called deafPLUS who agreed to phone on my behalf. I had to take some time off work just to make a phone call to claim a FORM!

Even that was stressful, due to them asking repeatedly to talk to me (suppose they didn’t realise deafness existed lol). The woman who helped trying to explain that I could not hear the phone and she was speaking on my behalf. Anyway I managed to get that form request submitted and it came in the post around June 2014.

I read through the booklet that came with questions. It was immediately clear that it was based on a point scoring system which I thought was detrimental to deaf people like myself. I was already sceptical that I would have any chance of getting this benefit.

The questions are very vague. I had no idea what to put, so I put some answers that I guess answered the question more directly. I suppose this was a mistake, I could have answered the question however I wanted, adding more information related to how my deafness affects me.

There was not much information on the internet from deaf people who have applied for PIP (relatively new at the time) for me to use to my advantage.

I felt this form was impossible, none of the questions really help a deaf person to portray their problems and explain why I feel I am entitled to PIP.

After I had filled it in it felt like I had barely answered some of the questions.

I received an answer in November 2014, formally rejecting my application for PIP. I was devastated, I had no chance with this system. My problems in everyday life could not be explained in this restrictive form.

Ironically, the letter stated that I would be phoned up and explained why I hadn’t received the benefit.

Huh? Did this guy even read my application? He would have read that I CANNOT use a phone, let alone hear very well….

I cannot remember but I think they phoned me on my mobile, obviously I couldn’t answer the phone. I was at work as well, no one could have possibly picked it up for me, and it is a personal matter too.

After that phone call I don’t think I received anything. That was it.

Now I know I could have appealed against the decision but I was so disheartened by the process and I felt I would never win, the questions and acceptance criteria is flawed.

I have since this not tried to reapply, I missed the 1 month appeal time.

I hope to try again with some help.

James Davies was born and bred in Surrey to a full hearing family. He is a Project Engineer for a company based near Reading. This is his first foray into writing blogs, he am writing to “share my experiences in the minefield of “life admin” as a deaf person.”

 

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