The confusion surrounding disability (Guest Post)

Whilst most people accept that the UK government has had to make cuts over the last couple of years to combat the struggling economy, it’s fair to say that many didn’t expect the cuts to go quite so deep for the disabled.

Asking people to tighten their purse strings may be reasonable, but when you are asking the disabled to get by on even less than the pittance they’re already surviving on, you can understand the move not being a popular one. A feeling that was made abundantly clear when someone, in their wisdom, thought it would be a good idea to allow George Osborne to present medals at the Paralympics.

False claimants

As frustrating as the government cuts are, it isn’t just the current administration who are responsible for the limited benefits that the disabled receive. The sad reality is that there are also individuals who are making life harder for the rest. You know who I am taking about, and most of us have encountered them at one time or another. Yes, the individuals that exaggerate their conditions or feign disability in order to get benefits that should be going the way of those who truly need them.

Whilst those individuals should be wholly and utterly ashamed of themselves, it’s doubtful that reading an article such as this is going to have any effect. Let’s be honest, if they’re prepared to pretend they have a condition to get out of working for a living, nothing you or I can say is going to guilt trip them into doing something about it.

What’s worse, many have probably given a good deal of thought to this and when confronted, would probably justify their actions, pointing to others who they feel are no worse that are claiming, or indeed responding with the “if I can claim it why shouldn’t I” retort. When speaking with disabled people the picture painted if their lives were different is one of work and lots of activities, not sponging off the government for benefits that they are not rightly entitled to.

Defining disability

According to the government, you may be eligible for disability living allowance if you need help with your personal care, or are unable to walk. However, what exactly is the definition of either of these two and is the definition being viewed exactly the same throughout the country? From loss of sight to crippling arthritis, at exactly what point does an able-bodied person become disabled and exactly who is entitled to claim and for what?

In an attempt to answer these questions, I went directly to the government site and started clicking on the links to answer the questions. However, with every link I clicked I just seemed to be greeted with yet more links offering notes, forms and god knows what else, with each making the matter more complicated. By the end I was deflated and knew less than I did about what the disabled are entitled to than I did when I started out.

Stopping the wrong people

Having spent what seemed like an age trying to work out how to navigate through the government site, figuring out who is allowed to claim, I was left baffled. I then concluded that this site has been set up in such a way as to stop false claims and to make sure that everyone gets the exact amount for their own situation.

However, by making the site as complicated as possible, it strikes me that many of the people who will end up with less than they are due will be those who need it the most. After all, for those who are prepared to lie, cheat and pretend to have a disability in order to get free money from the state, they will undoubtedly have the energy, patience and determination to do whatever it takes to get through the site and to get the benefits that they are not entitled to.

After eventually giving up on the site (something that I had the luxury of doing, being able bodied) I gave the matter of benefits some thought and concluded that the situation is very much a no win one. The government can move the goalposts surrounding benefits, they can have those who they believe are falsely claiming watched, they can come up with one convoluted idea after another in a bid to ensure that only those who really need help get it. However, I would be surprised if any of these new ideas work. What’s more, if they did come up with a way of separating the able-bodied from the disabled, would it make any difference? Or even still should it make any difference?

One would hope that if a time ever came when those who are not entitled were weeded out for the funds to be redistributed among the disabled, in reality, it’s more likely that at the time, the government will just use the funds for tax breaks for the rich.

Written by Chloe Sharpe- Owner of the website; A former recruitment specialist, who is now making it her mission to help others get back on their feet, by breaking down the confusing information given regarding Jobseekers’ Allowance.  After researching for this article and finding disability benefits being even more confusing than the regular JSA , she is brewing more ideas to help those who cannot work too.


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