Gripes & Graplings

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Disability Living Allowance - Mobility Component

The DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) has a handy scheme available that offers those who are disabled to chance to be awarded a sum of money that's meant to help them get about. This is called the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.

It's a good idea and one that, for many, can mean the difference between isolation and a social life.

The mobility component is awarded on two levels, the lower level being worth £16.05 per week and the higher level a whopping £42.30. Yes, that's all of nearly £2,200 per year. A huge amount, isn't it? Well no, it isn't, but because the majority of those in receipt of it aren't high earners (we're disabled, remember?), the money makes a huge difference to our ability to get out and enjoy life on par with the rest of the population.

What's unfortunate is that there are still thousands of disabled people out there who aren't getting the highest level of mobility because they don't fulfil the criteria, one of which is that you shouldn't be able to walk more than 100 yards without severe discomfort. Let's take a closer look at what that means.

Let's say somebody has a problem with their hips/back/legs but that the problem allows them to walk 150 yards before they experience what can be described as extreme discomfort. They live in an area where their nearest bus-stop is 500 yards from their home and there are no local shops. This person won't be able to receive the highest rate of mobility but where does being able to walk 150 yards get him? Nowhere. He still won't be able to catch a bus or do any shopping, and as he'll have already used up his walking quota, just how is he supposed to get home again?

Then let's say there's another somebody who can only walk 80 yards but has a bus-stop right outside her door and can take the bus to a large shopping centre that supplies mobility scooters to help disabled customers get around. The bus also goes to the train station and the bus station. This somebody is in a far better position to be able to get around without either owning a car or using taxis, and yet, as long as doctors agree that she meets the correct criteria, she'll be automatically awarded the higher rate.

The bloody bureaucracy in this country is so boxed in that those who decide who can and cannot be awarded the higher rate of the mobility component aren't able to offer any consideration to the bigger picture. And if you're over 65, you can forget any ideas you may have had of ever receiving any DLA component.

Sure, if you were awarded it before your 65th birthday then you can continue receiving it (assuming you still meet the criteria, of course), but if you're unlucky enough to have an accident or develop a medical condition that makes walking painful or even impossible after you become 65, they'll give you sod all. Even if you have to have both your legs amputated you'll still get nothing. If that isn't discrimination, what is? How can anybody imagine that a person who became disabled at a later age is less in need of getting out of the house than one that has been so for a while already?

Admittedly they government have been looking at changing this but abolishing the upper age limit would cost the taxpayer an estimated £3.1 billion a year, so they're loath to do it. After all, we all know how selfish Joe England can be when it comes to how his taxes are spent!

Some would probably describe me as one of the lucky ones because I was awarded the higher rate of mobility without having to see a panel of judges (see Colin's post for more on this). The DWP accepted the opinions of my specialist and my GP. My son, on the other hand, was born with severe learning difficulties and a variety of physical problems. He can walk. In fact, he can walk for miles and miles and at speed. But - and this is where the DWP are unable to move out of their cosy little boxes, even though they insisted on sending him to see several doctors - he doesn't have a snowball's chance of going anywhere alone and even when he has somebody with him, he's still prone to knock people over and generally upset the apple cart.

The good people at the DWP awarded him the lower rate because he requires "guidance from somebody" when he's out. Yes, they're quite right. He does indeed need guidance. I've lost count of the number of times I've been busy paying for the bus ticket while Paul has been 'busy' telling the other passengers where to sit, where to put their shopping etc., and knocking things, and sometimes people, over in the process. I've also had to run up the street after a bus where he's jumped on through the back door before I could stop him, thinking that this must be our bus, and moving off into the distance whilst waving to me through the back window. Oh dear... what with him and his antics and me and my dodgy legs, you can imagine what a tizwoz we could get into, can't you? Surely all this would generally be described as "severe behavioural problems"? That's another of the criteria that can be applied to a higher rate award.

And what about "severely mentally impaired"? Yes, that's another that qualifies. What's the difference between "severe learning difficulties" and "severely mentally impaired", exactly? His problems don't stop at not being able to read. He has no understanding of consequences, has no sense of direction, doesn't understand traffic, he can't speak and... well, I won't bore you with the whole list.

As it happens it doesn't matter too much because I use the car I took through the motability scheme (you can only do that if you have the higher rate of mobility) to ferry him about too, but I'm not supposed to. I'm only really supposed to use it for my own needs. But then I can't take Paul on the bus anymore because I can't walk far enough to get to the bus-stop in the first place so surely ferrying Paul is also covering my need? According to the DWP: no, it isn't. Doh!

Draw your own conclusions.


Related Links:
DirectGov - DLA and Who Can Get It
The DWP website

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3 Comments:

  • Hi again Sharon. DLA thing is stupid. I still don't ge twhy they truend me down. i can't walk at all without severe pain! And when i persist, my legs give way. In fatc I am in pain 24/7. Yes the severity does vary.
    Even if I could walk far enough to bus or train, i couldn't use the damn things! Too dangerous. Last time I wa son a bus, I fell over as the bus moved off before I sat down. Imagine trying to get off the tube or a bus intime for my stop? Just getting up from sitting takes an age. Opps...enough moaning...I agere with you needless to say!

    By Blogger colin, at 26/3/06 00:09  

  • I really do think it's a postcode lottery, Colin. As I said, I had no trouble and yet I had a dreadful time getting any kind of help for my son. In fact, the social worker that visited us told me--off the record--that my best bet was to move to another borough (this was in Manchester). I really hope you are successful as it's obvious you need the higher component just as much as anybody else who has it. In fact, I know of one very definite case of a man who has it who really shouldn't be getting it. He's taking the DWP for a ride, and has been getting away with it for years!

    By Anonymous Sharon J, at 26/3/06 22:21  

  • As a taxpayer, I am amazed to read this. Why should we compensate you for being 'disabled' - funny how many more people apply this description to themselves now that they can be paid for it isn't it? What became of making the best of it and getting on with it? What this country need is wealth creators not shirkers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/10/07 08:58  

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