Applying for PIP: Our experience of applying for PIP, Part 6.

So.

Last week we had what was supposed to be our tribunal hearing for Husband’s PIP claim.

We had a letter through the post, giving us a time and date to come to the court for the tribunal. It also asked us to send through anything else that could be used as evidence so the court had it at least 7 days before the tribunal. They also asked us to bring the appeal papers we had been sent (the huge wad including the DWP report about Husband) to the tribunal. Further back it explained how we could claim expenses if we needed to for transport and food and drink but none of that was relevant to our claim.

I duly went and got copies of two of Husband’s letters from his epilepsy consultant, and one letter from his therapist and one from his employment support worker supporting his claim, and sent them to the court using recorded delivery.

A few days later I had a reply from them confirming they had received our paperwork.

The night before our tribunal date, I went upstairs and got all our paperwork out. Beforehand I had bought a large ring binder and a big pack of punched pockets, and I sat and meticulously put every page of our claim and anything I had photocopied out in there in chronological order to make it organised and easy to find.

I also found out something smart-casual to wear, and our passports in case we had to identify ourselves while at the court. I had never done this before and was not quite sure what to expect.

The day of the tribunal hearing, I got up early and got myself ready and made us something to eat, letting Husband sleep as long as I could. We set off in good time and got there in advance to meet Husband’s mother and the lady who is representing us from the advice service.

At the court, we had to go through a metal detector and we had our bags x-rayed. My bag was pulled aside as the security guard had spotted liquids in there, which turned out to be my nose spray. I had been told we were not permitted to bring drinks in so I didn’t. Our representative had to leave her bottle of perfume at the desk and reclaim it once she left.

Once inside, it was as hot inside as outside which was really affecting Husband and making him feel ill. There was a small cafe so we went to get a drink and sat down outside in the foyer, waiting for Husband’s mother and the representative to come.

There was a notice board where the cases being heard that day were listed and I found ours quickly enough. Two cases were being heard before us that morning.

Husband’s mother and our representative arrived and we went up to the court room to wait outside. We were told that the second case was being heard then and that they were quite behind on schedule.

At this point the reality of what was happening really hit home for Husband. Combined with it being too hot for him, he started becoming increasingly distressed. The way he does this is by withdrawing into himself, and not speaking and making eye contact. He went and sat himself somewhere quiet to try and calm down, while I sat down and was told what to expect by Husband’s mother and our representative.

She explained who the people in the room would be and that we must not jump in or interrupt, as the panel would be interested in hearing what Husband had to say and his side of the story. The panel would give us a chance to say anything we felt was lacking by asking ff if we had anything to add,  so we were told to take notes.

She did say however that she felt we have a strong case because of the discrepancy between what we have said and written, and what it says in the DWP report about Husband.

By the time it was finally our turn to go in, we were 40 minutes late. Husband was at this point very distressed, not making eye contact most of the time and barely speaking.

It was a smallish room, with a big table and three chairs on either side. There was a desk in the corner where the clerk sat. She brought water and cups into the room as you are not permitted to bring your own food or drink into the court room.

Presiding was a judge, a GP on her left and a lay person on the right. Interestingly there was no representative from the DWP present.

The person representing us asked the judges to pay particular attention to several points in our claim where the discrepancies were quite big.

Before we even got into the claim, the panel wanted the GP to ask Husband some questions and specified that they wanted to hear the answers from him, and that we would get a chance to add anything we felt was appropriate once he had answered.

The GP asked Husband about his part time job and how he gets to work, and if he goes anywhere else in the community. She was patient and spoke to him in a friendly way but at this point I could tell Husband was visibly shaking and so he spoke very little, making no eye contact at all. He did manage to say that he doesn’t go anywhere else when asked if he would go anywhere else apart from work or the local shops.

This went on for about ten minutes before the panel said they wanted a break to confer and sent us out.

We waited outside the court room, when the clerk called me and Husband’s representative back in. The panel informed us that they felt that because of the way Husband presented and due to the discrepancy between our claim and the report from the DWP, they wanted to access his medical records to get a fuller picture. Therefore the court would adjourn for the day. Our representative pointed to the detailed report from the psychiatrist who diagnosed Husband with Asperger’s Syndrome and asked if this would not be sufficient, but no, this was not enough in their view.

The court now has 30 days to get the medical records to view and we will then be called in again to continue with the hearing.

We queried this with the representative after we had left the court premises; she was quite surprised as she had never experience this happening before, but did explain to us that there would be a new panel reviewing the case and everything within it. She also explained that although we had to consider if returning would cause Husband to become distressed again and if that was worth it, she had to make us aware that the success rate for PIP tribunal hearings is higher when the claimant is present. Her prediction was also that we would be seen quite promptly once the medical records had been obtained. In addition to this to lessen Husband’s anxiety she would request that we would be the first hearing of the day, not the last, in case the previous two overran. This will hopefully save us waiting around, making Husband anxious.

Husband has thought it over and although he does not like the thought, he is nevertheless prepared to go back and attend the second tribunal hearing.

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TL;DR: We’re still waiting.

If you want to read my previous posts about our quest for Husband’s PIP claim, you can do so here:

……..

Applying for PIP: Our experience of applying for PIP, Part 5.

Our PIP anniversary (Our experience of applying for PIP: Part ?)

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 4.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 3.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 2.

Applying for PIP: Our experience – part 1.

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A motley May.

Gosh where does the time go? Have suddenly realised I have not summer up last month and we are almost in July!

Good things about May were:

  • Husband and I had a very positive experience when he visited Occupational Health for a health check. After everything that has happened to us, I have become quite jaded and guarded. So it was so lovely to see that (while I don’t expect everyone to know everything about Asperger’s) the occupational health nurse had made an effort to read up on it prior to Husband coming to his appointment and got an insight into what someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome might need support with.
  • My colleagues and line managers at work were lovely and supportive. It’s balm for the soul when you’re stressed out and the world seems to have it out for yo, that there are people backing you.
  • The weather has been getting progressively better and I had a nice walk one evening which included some foraging.
  • We have continued to be under budget for food and I think once I have done the grocery diary for three full months, I will do a more in-depth post about it.
  • I got to spend two days in London seeing my best friend and her sisters visiting from Norway.

Things that could have been improved about May were:

  • On the 21st of May was our PIPiversary. On that day, one year exactly had passed since we had started the application process for PIP for Husband. Still no tribunal date.
  • Work is becoming increasingly taxing, with challenging behaviour from students, coupled with many policy changes to our service. This has led me to experience some nights where my mood has been very low this month. Some of these policy changes are unreasonable, and some are downright discriminatory. I think what they will lead to, is a significant decline in the number of people using our services.

 

 

 

Applying for PIP: Our experience of applying for PIP, Part 5.

Houston, we officially have a PIP appeal date! This is not a drill!

We have had a letter through today from the Courts and Tribunals Service to say Husband’s PIP appeal will take place on the 13th of July.

1 year and two months after we started the application process.

It also says that if we want to submit any further evidence, we have to do this no later than 7 days before the court date.

Right. Best get on, then.

You can read the previous posts about our quest for PIP here:

Applying for PIP: Our experience – part 1.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 2.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 3.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 4.

Our PIP anniversary (Our experience of applying for PIP: Part ?)

The last two weeks in review: Both losing faith in humanity, and having it restored at the same time.

These two weeks have been very mixed. No surprises there, as the Silver household normally is.

Last Monday was incredibly busy at work with students trying to finish their work and submitting it within the deadlines, all while the computer systems continued to crash and freeze. This has been on-going since the latest Windows OS was installed and people were pulling their hair out as it kept happening. All we could do was restart the PCs for them and keep encouraging them to save their work.

I just felt so unprofessional as even though it’s not our fault and we can’t help it, I didn’t feel we were delivering a very good service. In addition to this several of the students had their work saved as files that were so large the email system rejected them as being too large, so were not able to email their submissions to their tutors. We found ways around it but those two things combined with a chair that got vandalized left me feeling quite drained.

And to top things off we found out later that three of the students had formally complained about the PCs, understandably, but also about the staff in the library that day saying we had been unhelpful and laughed at their troubles.

I am absolutely incandescent. We were nothing but as helpful and understanding as we could be that day given everything we had to deal with. Not to mention one of the students who complained was barred from coming and seeing us for a term due to behaviour earlier in the term.

All the same, it left me feeling quite drained that evening. Didn’t have the energy to cook so we had takeout. Not great for the budget.

Tuesday was a bit better. I had a day off which helped my mood a lot, plus Husband’s visit to Occupational Health went very well.

The appointment went really well. I accompanied Husband to the appointment not sure what to expect. I needn’t have worried however as the occupational health nurse had clearly taken the time to read about Asperger’s Syndrome and how it can present, and went through the information carefully with Husband, checking repeatedly that he was alright and if there was anything he wanted to ask.

It all went swimmingly – until we got to the vaccination history. As Husband will be dealing with items that have human blood on them in his work, he needs to have the Hepatitis B vaccine. Husband hates needles. But to help him they have booked him an appointment to have the injections and blood tests done at the occupational health clinic so he can have them done in peace and at his own pace, rather than having to go to the drop-in sessions.

For some, it may seem like a small thing. However given everything we have gone through these last two years, anyone treating Husband with a bit of dignity and making adjustments so that he can participate fills me with immense joy.

Wednesday and Thursday last week were spent getting the garden together. I have planted nasturtiums and sweet peas and will try my hand at tomatoes this year. I have also planted some flower seeds we were given.

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Before. Garden has become a bit of a jungle…
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…and after. Need to borrow something to trim the hedge with as it’s growing out of control. Contemplating having the garden landscaped as it would mean less maintenance we would have to do.
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The weather has been lovely and warm, and the Cat has been enjoying the garden, at least.

Saturday after work I met up with Husband and the family and his parents very generous paid for a meal out at the Wetherspoon up the road from us. A lovely gesture and it meant I didn’t have to cook after a long day at work.

One thing I have been thankful for as well these last two weeks are my colleagues at both workplaces. Colleagues have listened and offered advice and support, and given us stuff and help.
A receptionist I like at work and I managed to have lunch together and she very kindly gave me lunch, and gave me lots of leftovers to use up. My supervisor gave me a box of cereal she’d bought but didn’t like so gave it to me, and a colleague at my weekend work has been giving me lifts partway home which saves me so much time. It also meant I was able to swing by Tesco Sunday night to get these beauties:

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My lovey bargains from Tesco. Note the muffins, 8p a pack!

I have continued to use my smartphone responsibly (?) and have installed Shopmium and continued to use Job Spotter. Shopmium has netted us £10.02 in free groceries via their cashback, and I have gotten a £10 Amazon voucher from Job Spotter and I am working on another one.

This Monday was an odd day for us – it was our PIP anniversary. We are still waiting for a court date for Husband’s PIP claim.

Tuesday was spent doing washing and things around the house. The weather these two weeks has been lovely and warm so have gotten several loads of washing done.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent at at my weekday job – I enjoy my work and like my colleagues and (most) of the students, but several changes to our procedures were announced this week and I am not sure I can stand behind these changes and how it will impact how we deliver our service. It has made me wonder if I have a future there. It left me drained and Friday night was spent feeling really off and unsettled.
It’s hard to explain, but I felt really flat and drained, and my skin feeling prickly and my hair kept standing on end for seemingly no reason.

So once again we had a takeout.

Must stop dealing with feelings by eating stuff….

Saturday and Sunday have been quite quiet at the university – this is a good thing as we have two new hires starting this month. My colleague very kindly gave me a lift almost the whole way home on Saturday. As the weather was nice I decided to do the right thing and walk the rest of the way, which I enjoyed.

Sunday morning was spent lounging around at home, and moving stuff upstairs from the bedroom in preparation for the carpenter to come next week to make the bespoke cupboards for the bedroom.

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The Cat enjoying a quiet Sunday morning.
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Got these lovely things when I swung by Sainsbury’s on my way home. Three packs of ham for the freezer and some satsumas ❤

Next week is half term, which gives Husband and me a nice week off from work, which we sorely need. We’ll get some time together, we’ll celebrate Husband’s birthday, and I will travel down to London to see my friend and her sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our PIP anniversary (Our experience of applying for PIP: Part ?)

Just a quick post to say it’s our PIP anniversary this week.

Oh joy.

What is a PIP anniversary, you may ask?

Well it was on the 21st of May in 2017 that I started our quest for PIP by calling the DWP on Husband’s behalf to start the process and request the form.

So it has now been over a year since we started this journey.

And we are still yet to receive a court date for our tribunal hearing.

Genuinely wondering what happens to people who don’t have anyone to support them while they wait for these things. Or if their payouts are delayed or stopped.

If you want to read about our experience thus far with applying for PIP for Husband, you can do so here:

Applying for PIP: Our experience – part 1.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 2.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 3.

Applying for PIP: Our experience, part 4.

An expensive yet frugal week.

So this week has been both expensive and frugal at the same time. How, you ask?

Monday was a Bank Holiday, so Husband and I both had a day off. We had a leisurely morning at home before taking the bus and walking around the lake at Wollaton Hall, enjoying the lovely weather. We both an an ice cream before going to see Husband’s family. To contribute, we brought two bottles of fizz with us and we were given some lovely French stick bread to take home with us.

….aaand then his glasses snapped off at the hinge. So booked an appointment with the opticians for the day after as I had time to accompany him and I had a voucher for a free eye test. Husband’s glasses left us £160 lighter, even with us choosing the cheapest frames.

Tuesday morning, as we were getting ready to go, I dropped my phone. It then didn’t want to switch on and when it did, the screen wasn’t responding.

So called the carrier and as I was eligible for a free upgrade, I have now officially joined the 21st century and gotten myself a smartphone. Nothing fancy, but it works and I can access apps and things on it.

I’ve installed an app called JobSpotter on it as I do travel around a lot to and from work. You get points for taking pictures of uploading job adverts seen in local shops, and the points can be converted to Amazon vouchers. So far I have gotten £6.49 accrued so will cash out when I get to £10. Maybe I will review it in future?

Previously when I had a regular phone I shook my head at people who were continuously on their phones on the bus and while walking.  But now I have one, I can see how addictive smartphones can be, and I have made a conscious decision to not spend my whole commute on it, and read a book or newspaper instead. I also solemnly promise to not get it out while eating a meal (with other people) or before bed.

Thursday I dropped by Sainsbury’s to see if they had any bread, and got some lovely reduced food.

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Lovely reduced food ❤ 

Friday I attended a meeting at work where we were told officially what we have known for months, that the site we are working at will be closing when we finish for the summer. We have been advised they are looking at all the positions in our departments, not just ours, and that we will receive a letter in the next few weeks about how this will affect each one of us.

Sunday I attended a training session at work which meant we finished early. It was really pleased as it meant I could attend Sharing Sherwood after all. So I left work , got two bargains at Tesco, and went to join Husband and our neighbour there.

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Lovely soup which will keep me going when trying to lose weight<3

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Tonight’s menu at Sharing Sherwood.

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First helping of the main course: Green beans, salad with feta cheese, roast potatoes, frittata and cooked cabbage.
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Lovely dahl and basmati rice. Spicy!
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There was a lot of surplus food at Sharing Sherwood today and our donations got us this food. It really helps our grocery budget as we can buy food we would normally rule out as it’s outside our price range.

Next week we don’t have a lot of plans for (yet). We are due to see the occupational health nurse at Husband’s new workplace, as they need to talk to him about the conditions he declared on the occupational health questionnaire. Not quite sure what to expect as I have never done it before, though I can imagine it is similar to the questions we get asked whenever we renew our travel insurance.

Then, hopefully, Husband will be offered his contract and can hand his notice in at his current job.

 

A manageable March.

Goodness, where does the time go?

Good things about March were:

  • The snow/Beast from the East/Hysteria from Siberia. I had two days of enforced rest as the college was closed due to the adverse weather at the start of the month. This was sorely needed after my trip home in the previous week left me feeling really worn out and distressed.
  • We had brunch with our old neighbours one Sunday and got to meet their baby. It was so nice just to see them again and hear about how they were getting on with stuff.
  • Did some product testing for Sensory Dimensions, got £20 for doing this in Love2Shop vouchers.
  • Spring is coming! It’s getting lighter outside and I can start pegging the washing out.
  • Our neighbour who minds the Cat has been very supportive.
  • Husband has got a lot of support through the Work Health Programme. As he feels wary of travelling to unfamiliar places they have met him in town and then travelled to their office together so he feels more confident doing that on his own now. They help him fill in job applications. And they reimburse him for his travelling to and from the sessions which is a great boon to us. It has really helped my mood and how I am feeling as it means I have less to do and I know he is getting the support he needs with getting work.
  • Counselling has continued for us both, I have found my sessions helpful as I have identified some things I need to work on.

Things that could have been improved about March were:

  • Still no court date for our PIP tribunal. We are still waiting.
  • Work situation at one of my jobs is very unsettled as there’s been a change of management there and we are worried they will come for our department next, in terms of looking at where they can make savings.