Benefits Expert: ‘The stress is making my life impossible’

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Q I am 66 and for the past 17 years I have been receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the maximum rate for both Care and Mobility.

I have a spinal condition which afflicts all the organs of my body, as well as other disabilities, causing me to need exceptionally high levels of painkillers.

I am in a wheelchair or mobility scooter at all times and I pay carers to do everything for me such as showering, dressing, feeding, injections, catheterizing me and giving me enemas.

My monthly prescription is four pages long. I was surprised therefore when The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recently sent me a fresh DLA assessment form to complete.

The covering letter stated “we require some additional information from you to determine whether you are receiving the correct rate of DLA”.

I have done as they asked but I cannot understand why they should have contacted me.

This is the first time they have queried my claim since I was awarded DLA ‘for life’ in 1994.

Is it to do with the changes to DLA from 2013? Can you explain as all this stress is making my life impossible?

Disabled Pensioner.

A I wish I could explain but I have not been able to find out.

The rate of DLA you are receiving is that for someone with severe mobility problems who needs day and night care, and that sounds like you.

As you are on the maximum I do not think that the DWP would want “additional information” with a view to giving you more benefit.

Nor can their request have anything to do with the forthcoming changes to DLA.

These changes will not affect people like you who will be over 64 when the transition starts in 2013.

I thought the DWP might have contacted you as part of a general review of all DLA cases or perhaps they may have picked on you for a random check.

But I was wrong as I found out when I asked the DWP why they sent out these reassessment requests.

They replied that they were not conducting a general review, nor did they send these requests out at random.

They said they look into a customer’s case if they come by information which means they need to ensure that a person is receiving the right amount of DLA for their condition.

This “information” may come from many sources but they cannot disclose to me or to you where it came from as it is confidential.

Even a lifetime award, they said, can be reviewed if they received information that merited them looking into the case.