Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Will Kill You.

365-038: Altaïr, originally uploaded by zombiecoterie.

Well, I'm sure you won't want to read me going on about this too much longer, so I promise I'll try to find something else to say soon. I'm still having such an adventure trying to work out the benefits system and what happens to your finances when you're suddenly unable to work for an extended period of time. It's been six weeks or so since I had to stop working because of my hands and on Monday I was told that the problems on my left hand are because of something neurological rather than mechanical so there's a limit to how much the physiotherapy is going to help restore control and feeling to that arm. So, returning to interpreting as a full-time job seems a bit impossible, but because I'm not allowed housing benefit and thus should be able to live comfortably on £65 a week to cover everything, I'm having to have a serious look at how I can bring some money in.

Under the rules for incapacity benefit, you're allowed to do up to 16 hours a week permitted work, which I'm allowed to earn up to £88 for. The assumption then is that you're going to be on minimum wage or less if you're disabled, which is quite charming. To get the forms for it, you need to speak to your Disability Employment Advisor and then to the Benefits Centre that's dealing with your claim to get permission to ask for a form that you then fill out to tell them about what you're doing to get that princely sum each week.

I'm lucky in that most of the work I'm trying to do involves weeks of preparation, so the money involved can be spread out, but it makes me laugh to think that if I did, say, a half-day of interpreting and got a hundred pounds for it, I'd have to end my claim for benefits and submit a new one, then wait a month for that to be processed and for the invoice to be paid. So, for the sake of £35 more than the benefits agency think I need, I'd have to go without any income at all for a month.

I've written to the local MP to ask how they arrive at the threshold for how much money a couple needs to live on so I can use that breakdown to budget for life over the next few months until I'm well. Looking at Joan Ruddock's voting record on civil liberties, I'm not sure how well she'll respond to sarcasm, but I'll certainly keep you posted on that front, too.

I guess this is the benefits trap they tell you about, isn't it? I'm trying to fight the urge to sharpen the metal in the hand brace I've got and go on a killing spree.


czechOUT said...

Are your Ads by Google geographically specific?

I'm getting:

Palestinians occupy Judea
1% of Palestinians live on 58% of land in Judea and Samaria

As to your hands...I've found the climate here is really aiding my rheumatoid arthritis.

In the UK I've been waiting 2 years less 8 weeks to see a consultant, so I'm impressed you were attended to much more swiftly, and have a clear diagnosis. I guess I should be more persistent. (Like the Americans here... oh nausea)

I fear however we live in a culture of self-help and have to find our own solutions. At least you can still draw. Make that work for you. You have your arts grant and your play in working.

You have your new job as a guide at the NatGal a move away from signing, which seemed to be where you were going to focus your energy.

So pursue all that, because I fear that all your letter writing is going to get you no-where, soak up so much of your time and energy and cause nothing but frustration.

Life's not fair, and had you never worked and carved your own path I'm sure you would find pounds of benefits thrown at you when you need them.

So, practicing what I preach (it's almost after 3pm when I can go out into the sun again), I'm off to the beach to bury my feet in the baking Tel Aviv sand, then to dip in and out of the pool, before sampling spa therapies at the Dead Sea next week to benefit from the immediate relief that brings.

Before being thrust back to the mercy of the NHS in a couple of weeks' time. Still, I have finally got an appointment at Homerton on 21 July, having first requested it a specialist in September 2006.


Chris said...

Oh no, the benefits trap is when everything Finally gets working and you're getting smoething like £100 per fortnight, which sounds ridiculous EXCEPT that they might well be paying your rent AND the council tax drops to almost nothing.
Suddenly you realise that, for doing no work, you're getting the equivalent of £600+ per month. And that's shit, but when they start trying to push you into any old dead-end job which is paying minimum wage (maybe £750-£800 if you're lucky) then 35 hours of cleaning toilets for £200 doesn't seem worth it!
Add onto that the free prescriptions, dental care, eye care, the possibility of getting cheap training/education... and now unless you're earning at least £1,000 per month after tax then the benefits system becomes grotesquely appealing.

This is roughly based on Job-Seeker's Allowange. If you start getting Incapacity Benefit, DLA etc. then it becomes a veritable gravy train. If they started giving you what you really deserve from the system you'd easily be bringing in over £150 per week AND have your rent covered.

Hang on, whytf am I working!? I QUIT!

The Pirate King said...


Oh, don't get me wrong, I know there's plenty of people in a far worse situation than me. I totally agree that it's ridiculous the amount of time and energy that gets spent on trying to get what, in the end, isn't much money at all.

Sadly no art grant at the moment (but I'm working on that!) and the gallery tours are still in the pipeline rather than in the bag, so it looks like the next couple of months will be tricky, financially - unless I suddenly have some big break with badger or something odd like that.

Eep about the Google ads - mine were for joint pain and meeting nice ladies!


If only! They won't pay my rent or reduce my council tax at the moment, so it's far stickier than the gravy train you're mentioning! I plan on earning well over a grand a month when I do get back to working properly - it's just right now it's a bit of a nightmare to have this to deal with on top of the assortment of horrible health things that are going on right now. I'll get over it soon enough.