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Saturday, 29 October 2011

WCA Descriptors - an amazing new interpretation

I have just received the results of my latest WCA and not surprisingly like many others, scored zero points again.  This was against the new descriptors that no longer regard bending/kneeling as relevant.  I though first off I’d call DWP and try to get an explanation over the phone before appealing.  I did from a Decision Maker who spoke with authority, but had not actually review my own WCA – I will call him Mr Wleft (with a silent W, he refused to give me his initial).  It ran as follows.
My complaint is lower body physical, so only Activities 1 & 2 are really relevant – both with “nil points” as they say in Eurovision.
Activity 1
This used to be about walking, now called “mobility”.  After 25/30 meters walking various things hurt a lot, so I stop for a bit and set off again.  Frustratingly slow, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it and thankfully with the aid of a stick can manage to walk relatively upright and relatively normally’.  However my DM decided I am perfectly able to mobilise over 200m - ?????  He accepted my problem walking, but pointed out that as there was nothing wrong with my arms, I could cover 200m in a self-propelled wheelchair.  The fact that I don’t use one and nobody has ever suggested I should is irrelevant.  So, my capability to work (and presumably my life in general) is improved by being in a wheelchair over not being in a wheelchair – wow #1!
Still shell-shocked, I asked where the 200m had come from vs. the 100m and 50m alternatives.  The answer is that I can drive – if I can turn the steering wheel of a car, I can certainly self-propel a wheelchair at least 200m – wow #2.
Mr Wleft admitted that this last point was just his own opinion and might not be shared by other DMs.  I suggested this made the process worryingly subjective and a bit underhand, to which he said of course it is – what else did I expect? – wow #3.
His whole tone throughout was pseudo-sympathetic, more condescending and patronising, so I am clearly just another one of those benefit scroungers – no wow here.
When I first saw someone link the workings of a UK public sector department to the Third Reich through the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei”, I thought it in poor taste, but now I am not so sure.
Activity 2
On reflection he said I should have scored at least 9, but as the total was less than 15, it was academic.  This explains why so many WCAs come back with either 0 or 15 – no other score matters to DWP, when in reality I think having the exact best evaluation provides useful information about trends in condition.  But who am I to say?
My GP was surprisingly un-phased by my new need for a wheelchair, just commenting that DWP makes up its own rules.  My local JC+ tells me that finding a job being in a wheelchair is absolutely no different to finding a job without one – or was it “should be“ rather than “is”?  Maybe a few wheelchair users would like to comment on this comforting assurance.
I am still finding this hard to believe myself.

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