I was awarded DLA after breast cancer treatment went seriously wrong. I got MRSA infections in my surgical wounds that left me terribly scarred, internally and externally, my skin stuck to my ribs in some places. It took years of surgery , z-plasties and transplants, moving tissue from my back and stomach to replace the stiff, inflexible scar tissue; I needed the nerves cut on one side of my torso just to sleep at night. I still need to prop myself up to sleep, I can’t lie on my back or one side. Every day is a day of pain and fatigue.
When my DLA ended I was told to apply for PIP, and of course I got no points at all in spite of years of evidence of serious, long-term health problems. I appealed, was turned down, went through mandatory reconsideration, was turned down – I can’t tell you how awful that year was, I went hungry often to feed my now-teenage daughter, and I couldn’t buy her shoes for over a year. 14 months I waited for my tribunal, it was cancelled three times at the last minute with no explanation. I’d almost given up any hope at all by the time I got there. At tribunal I was awarded 5 years PIP, with a year back-paid, on no new evidence at all, just what I presented in the very beginning.
It was a crying waste of time and money, the DWP didn’t save a penny through this cruelty – in fact, it must have cost a lot more to administer all those appeals and an actual court appearance (can you believe that? We have to take the government to court just to survive) than it would have done just to leave me to get on with what’s left of my life. And the damage it does is incalculably wide – my daughter was at college through this year, and she got so depressed that she couldn’t continue. I’m sure she’s not unique in having her life chances diminished by these discriminatory policies.