Government disability benefits are designed to help support and provide you with things in life that you need because of your disability. As someone with hearing loss, this also applies to me.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to fill in a form to apply for a new form of disability benefits called ‘Personal Independence Payment’ (PIP), which is a form for UK residents.
As I’ve gone through this important process, I’ve discovered a few tips worth sharing.
The Personal Independence Payment was recently called the ‘Disability Living Allowance’ (DLA), and the Government in the UK have changed their scheme recently, which means everyone who has DLA has to reapply for their benefits through PIP.
If you wish to apply for PIP, the first step is calling the department of Work and Pensions. This may be challenging for people with hearing loss, but you can also have someone telephone on your behalf. As I cannot hear on the phone, I felt it really restricted my independence, as I also found it to not be accessible at all. The only other method they provide is Textphone, which is mostly outdated. Skype or video chat would be the ideal contact method, or email, so hopefully it will be implemented in the near future.
When I received the disability benefits form in the post, I couldn’t believe how many pages there were to fill in about how my disability affects me – it was about 40 pages. There were a variety of topics ranging from preparing food, washing and bathing, reading, interacting with people, finances, and the most relevant topic of all to me; communication. I only had 4 weeks to complete it, on top of managing my everyday life, work, social, and personal time. (Did I mention, it was the Christmas period too?) So, make sure you have time to complete this process when you’re ready to start it.
As soon as you apply for a form like this, write down everything you can think of as you are living your daily life. Report where you feel your disability affects you, even if it’s a tiny situation. The more detailed, the higher chance you would receive the benefit you are entitled to. It’s better to do it this way, rather than thinking on the spot as you might come across a situation that you’d never think your disability would’ve affected it.
The idea of the disability form is to explain to the government, every minor and major aspect of your everyday life that you feel your disability has an effect on, or restricts you from doing.
For a deaf person like myself, my challengers vary from big situations such as struggling to have a conversation in public while shopping, eating or at work/school, to smaller situations. Even when I don’t realise people trying to attract my attention, or not being able to wake myself up in the mornings because I can’t hear traditional alarm clocks. It also takes me longer to eat when I need to lipread someone, and I can’t listen to the radio, etc., in traditional ways.
These all play an effect on my daily life, and by reporting this on my disability form, I may be able to get resources to make these situations more accessible, such as receiving funding for a vibrating alarm clock.
Whilst writing all my answers to each individual questions, it struck me how demotivated and upset it made me feel to realise I couldn’t do about 10 pages worth of activities.
As a deaf ambassador myself I don’t always think about what I can’t do or how annoying my hearing loss can be, so to write essays about this. Reviewing all my challenges at once took me by surprise, and I didn’t want to keep writing about it.
But I am. I wrote this blog to encourage everyone in this situation to not let forms like these discourage you.
The purposes of disability claims is to highlight where your disability affects your life, as you’re the only one who really knows. When you take the time to explain your situation, others will be able to help you. Whether that’s in a disability form for government resources or finances, or in daily life with your friends and family.
After all, in spite of all these difficulties, you have to overcome all these obstacles in your daily life.
That alone, is a huge achievement.