There was a time that I felt a sense of excitement at hearing the morning post being pushed through the letterbox. As a child it was the promise of a letter from my numerous pen pals from around the world, or perhaps a parcel from a grandparent or a note just to say hello. As I grew into adulthood it changed from excitement to an expectation of bills, bills and more bills with the occasional mail order goodie thrown in for good measure.
Today, it’s a fear of an A5 sized brown envelope dropping onto the doormat.
If you are receiving social security benefits you will undoubtedly be nodding in agreement right now. There is nothing worse than seeing that brown envelope lying there on your doormat, as you instinctively know that it could be about one of a hundred things and very rarely are any of them good.
Being disabled, my biggest fear is the letter will contain a referral to Atos again. Despite having severe mobility problems, amongst other things, I spent the whole of last year appealing the decision on my employment and support allowance (ESA) which when all the way to tribunal despite the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) own paperwork stating that I was “unlikely to work in the longer term”. In fact, on the morning of the tribunal they telephoned me and, with no small amount of incredulity in his voice, told me that I did not have to attend and that my appeal was successful and I was placed in the support group.
Unfortunately, despite my condition being one that will only get worse, the tribunal decision will only be for a set period (which I have not been told) and I will have to go through the whole process again. With all the stress that it caused both myself and my wife, I am petrified of that letter arriving.
Of course it could be one of the numerous letters that we receive from both the DWP and our local council informing us of changes that we already know about – sometimes even changes that happened over a year ago. I dread to think how much money the DWP and the local council wastes on sending letters for the tiniest of changes. I once had EIGHT letters on the same day with regards to the same change, which I had already been informed of and therefore wasted unnecessary time and money. In a time where we are supposed to be saving money it seems crazy for this to be happening.
Or the letter could be one of the several that either my wife or I have received where the mistake has been made and our money, for whatever reason, has been changed or stopped, through no fault of our own. I wish I could say this is a rare occurrence but sadly that’s not the case, and the stress that that causes it is hard to describe. Please remember, when you live on benefits you don’t have the money to “prepare for any eventuality”. You live within a very strict budget, and that means only getting the food that you need to your next money, only having money from bills when that bill needs paying. That means that when a mistake is made it can leave you in real trouble, with no food or power or heating. In winter that is the most frightening part.
So no, I no longer relish the postman arriving and while everyone worries about bills, social security recipients worry about living from day to day. And ironically as I end this blog, the post has arrived and with it another brown envelope. Here we go again…
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