DLA rejection - what does reasonable mean?

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devine63

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Hello Ouchers

I recently applied for DLA, I didn't expect to get the Care allowances, but I was fairly confident I should be entitled to one of the Mobility Allowances.   My doctor was highly supportive of my claim.

My claim was rejected because a decision maker who has never seen me says I "can walk 100 metres slowly in a reasonable manner."

I don't dispute that given enough time I can walk 100m, I do however dispute that the manner in which I do so is "reasonable".
I wondered if any Ouchers know of a definition of this term in DLA situations [I know about the courts' version, which is something about a man on the Clapham Omnibus]?

The reason I don't think my walking is reasonable is as follows: 

among high blood pressure and other illnesses, I have a heart problem called Atrial Fibrillation which means the two upper chambers of my heart flutter quickly, instead of beating evenly and steadily as they should, and this means that, when I walk or do any form of exertion, however mild,  my heart pounds and I rapidly become breathless.   

So after walking 20 metres I am breathing hard and by the time I have completed 40-50 yards I have no choice but to stop and gasp for breath - regardless of whether it is pouring with rain, snowing or burning hot, I have to stand for several minutes until my breathing calms enough for me to feel I can  carry on walking.  When my heart is pounding in this manner, I am at high risk for a stroke or embolism.   Also after walking I am exhausted, e.g. when I go to work, I walk about 150 metres from the bus stop to my office, by the time I get there it is usually at least ten minutes before I am in any condition to actually start work.  I am still working full time.

There are several ways this mobility problem has an impact:

I no longer try to do the food shopping myself, walking around the store is just too much, I get it delivered to my door - but that costs at least 5 because a small order for one person does not come close to costing enough for the supermarket to offer free delivery.

I cannot "pop to the shops" (about 300m away) in my lunchbreak, as others do, because it would take me more than an hour to walk there and back, leaving no time for any actual shopping or eating.
 
I don't go out in the evenings, except for very rare exceptions for important events, I am too tired.   At weekends I go out, but only to places where I know there are bus stops within 50 yards - I often travel past the place I want, in order to cross the road and catch the bus back a couple of stops, because the stop is then in a nearer position to where I want to go than the one on the other side of the road.   I also have to be prepared to stop and sit down frequently during whatever I have decided to do.

My medical conditions are the main reason I am not able to live at my home in Southampton - I do not have the stamina to cope with a commute to London which would take at least 4 hours per day (2 hours each way)  with no guarantee of getting a seat in the train.  As a consequence I am forced to rent a flat within 15 minutes commute from my work in central London, with all of the expense that involves (rent alone is 780 per month for a tiny one bedroom flat in a run down area).

In London I am able to use the excellent bus network (I rarely use the tubes because it is often a very long way from street to platform, with lots of steps) and I don't run a car.   When I visit my home in Hampshire the bus stops are not nearby, and the routes don't go where I want to go, so I have no choice but to hire a car.

SO please can any Ouchers suggest points I should make in my Appeal letter?
regards, Deb

Sofie

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I wonder if you come under the criteria for (can't quite remember the wording) it being dangerous to walk. This does include heart and lung diseases.

seegee

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If you can only walk 40-50m most days before you have to stop and let your heart & lungs slow down, that surely isn't 100m (even slowly) in a reasonable manner?
Could you send them something like the explanation in your original post, telling them you wish to appeal the decision? 
If you sent something from your doctor with your claim you could draw attention to that; if you didn't, perhaps you could get something from a doctor explaining how atrial fibrillation is likely to affect your walking.

devine63

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Sadly I don't think my doctor would go quite that far, Sofie!   They still want me to try and exercise to lose weight!!!!

Thanks Seegee, I did indeed use the text I wrote earlier as a start to the letter.  They took the view that as I can walk on after the stop, that means I can walk 100m.   My doctor sent a letter, but I haven't seen it, I just was told it was supportive,
regards, Deb

Sofie

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I was always told it's the distance you can walk before pain / discomfort / breathlessness kicks in.

seegee

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That you can walk after the stop surely depends on how long you have to stop for? 
If you walk for 20m in a minute (which is very slow, taking very small steps with a slight pause to catch a breath between each step), stop for 2 minutes, repeat... that would add up to 13 minutes to do 100m, plus the rest you need to take after it; hardly what most AB people would class as a "reasonable" pace, most average ABs could comfortably walk at least 5 times that in the time without hurrying.

If it was a GP who sent the letter, you need to find out if they really know how slow and difficult walking is (maybe you could ask to see the letter they sent to see if they actually do know?). 
Most GPs rarely see any of their patients walk more than a very few steps, so don't know what happens when walking for longer or in cold/ hot weather outdoors; if the letter isn't clear enough, you need to spell it out to your doctor as well as telling DWP if/ when you appeal.

devine63

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thanks Seegee, I have asked to see the doctor's letter, but there isn't time to do so before I have to send the reply (I've been away quite a lot of this month, so only have a couple of days to get the appeal in).    She does have a pretty good idea of how little I can walk, because she sees me in the ground floor rooms of the surgery so I don't have to cope with the stairs.
regards, Deb

Monic1511

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Hi Deb
I can't tell you what reasonable is - its one of the fuzzy phrases but your appeal could be
I wish to appeal against the secretary of states decision dated 22/4/12 regarding DLA on the ground that you have failed to consider the severity of my heart condition.   after walking 20 metres I am breathing hard shortly after this I have no choice but to stop and gasp for breath - regardless of where I am or the weather I have to stand for several minutes until my breathing calms enough for me to feel I can  carry on walking.  When my heart is pounding in this manner, I am at high risk for a stroke or embolism.   Also after walking I am exhausted, after exerting myself like this it takes me at least 10 minutes to recover enough to be able to breath properly.    I have heart palpitations at rest or when active and if I exert myself I take a day to recover.

If you include this phrase you will be very unlikey to get mobility - anyone who can move 150m is not "virtually unable to walk"  e.g. when I go to work, I walk about 150 metres from the bus stop to my office, by the time I get there it is usually at least ten minutes before I am in any condition to actually start work.  I am still working full time.

I never mention work in the application forms as work implies that you have a routine that you can keep to and that your health is steady - after all how would you keep a job if you have to get assistance several times a day - I know DLA is an IN WORK benefit but not sure that decision makers aren't influenced.

The other thing is that the walking assessment is on flat level ground  >erm< as if we live in Holland or a shopping centre, so how you cope in bad weather or slight inclines is never considered.

I hope that gives you something to work with
good luck
Monic

devine63

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thanks Monic, that's all very helpful!    I'm not expecting to get the Care allowances, but I think it would be reasonable to award me the Mobility Allowance!
regards, Deb

Sofie

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Debs - am I correct in thinking you have a blue badge? Some of the evidence used for that might be helpful.

devine63

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Hi Sofie

yes - since I wasn't claiming DLA at the time for both my Freedom Pass and my Blue Badge I was sent to the local assessment centre and (in person) they had no hesitation in awarding me the Pass / Badge - and my mobility was a bit better then.

I shall indeed mention that in the appeal letter,
regards, Deb

elevenses81

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How some people manage to one rate of allowance and others equally or more disabled fail is a mystery. During 2010 I had surgery for a bone cyst in my right humerus which left me with function only below the elbow. Obtaining the low rate of DLA seemed fair. In 2011 I developed a sarkoma in my right shoulder and had to endure an upper right-side quartile amputation which lweft me without both a shoulder and an arm. According to DLA office, my disability was no worse than before and was refused a higher rate.

I've known people who had a kidney transplant apply for and obtain the high rate and a mobility vehicle. I've met people who hold down full time employment invoving walking who have obtained the high rate. Do they require supervision and help during the night? Of course not. Do they lie on the forms or exaggerate? Does their 'worst day' really justify a higher rate than I can obtain. I think not. The motobility website mentions that the vehicles can be modified with those with upper limb disability. How on earth can they obtain it other than lying?   
The day war broke out, my Missus
said to me she looked at me and she said, "What good are you?"
 "Well," she said, "All the young fellas'll be getting called up and you'll have to go back to work!"
 Ooh she's got a cruel tongue!

Sofie

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I've known people who had a kidney transplant apply for and obtain the high rate and a mobility vehicle. I've met people who hold down full time employment invoving walking who have obtained the high rate. Do they require supervision and help during the night? Of course not. Do they lie on the forms or exaggerate? Does their 'worst day' really justify a higher rate than I can obtain. I think not. The motobility website mentions that the vehicles can be modified with those with upper limb disability. How on earth can they obtain it other than lying?   

How do you know whether they're lying? Are you medically trained to know this?

Hurtyback

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I am always saddened to see people with illnessess and/or disabilites arguing amongst themselves as to who is the most 'worthy' of benefits. I can't help feeling that this is exactly what the ConDems want...

Monic1511

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Elevenses - are you aware of all the criteria for DLA?  I ask as high rate mobility can be given for more than just "virtually unable to walk"   Each person's form is read by a decision maker and decision are made there.  As for high rate care - how do you know that someone is not suffering from mental trauma that causes severe debilitating anxiety - you can't know that as no one having anxiety attacks like that is going to advertise.  I find it hard enough to get it out of people & Im trying to complete their application forms.

Yes you can work full time and get and BE ENTITLED to high rate care and high rate mobility - I have a few customers in this situation and after doing their forms Im surprised they get out of bed at all never mind work full time.

You said that you had lower rate DLA but Im not sure if it was mobility, if it was and you wanted high rate mobility after the amputation Im not sure your going to meet the criteria, middle or high rate care yes but high rate mob would mean you would need to meet number 6 in this list or possible no 4, depends on your other health problems

Mobility Component
To get High Rate Mobility
No 1. you are unable to walk or
No 2. you are virtually unable to walk or
No 3. the exertion required to walk would constitute a danger to your life or would be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in your health or
No 4. you have no legs or feet (from birth or through amputation)
No 5. you are both deaf and blind or
No 6 you are entitled to highest rate care component and are severely mentally impaired with extremely disruptive and dangerous behavioural problems.



Im sorry that you feel that way but when I hear people saying things like this it reminds me of the security guard challenging my pal for parking in a disabled bay because she wasn't disabled! - he couldn't see the blood bone breast & reproductive organ cancers that she had just finished getting chemo for & on her first day out in months he ruined her day by his judgement that she wasn't disabled!  Unless you have xray vision, medical degrees and have done the dla forms & been a decision maker Im not sure you can call anyone a liar.

Ive had clients try to exagerate their problems and when someone tried to make out that they were worse than their illnesses suggests I was told "Im not good today cos i forgot my medication this morning" to which I replied "thanks for reminding me, I've just remembered I forgot to take my pills as well, excuse me a minute while I go & pop some pills".   I went & took my meds & came back & continued with the appointment - my client stopped trying to exagerate.
A colleague is a full time wheelchair user and it can be funny when people try to exagerate their health problems to them, some clients are fine but the ones that exagerate start to squirm when confronted by a disabled employee helping them with their DLA claim.
As Hurty says the politicians laugh when we snipe at each other so rather than trying to guess why that person got an award check your own is correct & if not ask the DWP for a detailed explanation as to why you were refused the criteria you were seeking.
best wishes
Monic