I don't wish to piss and moan and depress you if you're reading this, but there are a few things that I want to bring to your attention. Things are getting progressively harder for disabled people like me.
I recently went to London to see my sister and do a bit of sightseeing. For the last few years, travelling on the underground has been free for me. I would show the guards my Transport for Greater Manchester concessionary pass, and they would let me through. Last weekend, they told me it was only valid in Greater Manchester and I had to buy a ticket like everyone else.
This begs the question, has there been a change in the rules or have various Transport for London employees, in the past, let me in for free when I should have had to buy a ticket?
Meanwhile, the UK's Working Tax Credit claimants are being moved over to Universal Credit, as you've probably heard in the news. As a result of this, my tax credits have been stopped and are currently under review. I forgot about this, and I have been fined for claiming free dental treatment. I've asked my GP surgery for advice on this, as this was a mistake I made due to having memory difficulties. My GP's receptionist has asked me to write an explanation of why I made the mistake (the memory condition that made me eligible for tax credits in the first place), so I submitted an essay to my GP's surgery. I'm waiting to hear back from that. Also, with DLA having changed to PIP, I've managed- after some time- to get an award for the latter newer benefit. Despite my circumstances being largely the same as when I first applied for DLA, I've only been awarded half the money I was in receipt of. This is also despite the treatment I was receiving escalating from neuropsychology and Social Services up to Psychotherapy, which is low-level Mental Health. Severity of treatment for condition goes up, money goes down.
I've been prescribed antidepressant Sertraline since the start of the year. It's helping me make some progress, but one of the numerous things bringing me down is that there is further confusion over whether PIP allows me free prescriptions. It appears I do, from various websites, but the chemist employees weren't sure themselves, so I paid to avoid ANOTHER potential penalty charge. I confirmed yesterday that I didn't have to pay, so got the cost refunded. I don't seem to have a valid NHS exemption certificate (the one I had expired), but I showed them my recent award of PIP that I got from the DWP. This was sufficient. (Apparently they don't issue cards now, and checks are done automatically. Or something.)
This is all very confusing. I'm no dummy, although I, as repeatedly stated, have a few problems. I don't understand what I'm entitled to, but my mum (retired primary school teacher) and dad (retired customs officer) don't understand it either, and they're non-disabled, capable people. So if none of us understand what the hell we're supposed to do, how does the average Joe get by? The answer? A lot of the time, they don't. This is why we're seeing masses of homeless people on the street of every city, and I'm afraid that, worst coming to worst, I may have to join them one day.
If anyone from the government is reading this thinking, you've actually done something wrong, and you're going to get in trouble- do me a favour and tell me who it is I'm supposed to get advice from, then make sure they DO THEIR JOB and don't just palm me off and tell me 'there are other people who need support more.' I've heard these excuses before and they won't wash.
I'm waiting to hear back about this dental fine. I'm waiting to hear back about Universal Credit. I'm waiting to hear back from TFL. I was waiting back to hear from the Employee Assistance Scheme in work; after a problem with my voicemail (that people calling me could use even though I hadn't set it up) I managed to get in touch with them. I've given them some information on my situation... and I'm now waiting to hear back from them.
I think what's important in situations like this is to compartmentalise- to accept that each one of these is a challenge to be overcome, but I'm not going to beat them all at once- especially not at Christmas. I've worked on all of this over the last few days. It's now the weekend. I'll come back to it later, and for the time being, enjoy myself with friends and on my own with a book, and try not to think about money and stress.