Incapacity benefit

I have a friend (I mentioned him in another posting about credit scores) who receives only incapacity benefit as well as a very small pension from his company - I cant remember the exact amounts, but I believe he gets 181.00 every 2 weeks in incapacity benefit.

He's finding it very difficult to cope and has started selling things on eBay to make ends meet.

He called the Benefits Agency hotline or whatever they are called to see if there were other benefits he could possibly claim, and they told him that because he is still employed by his company (receiving a meagre token income), he can only claim incapacity benefit. Yet if he were to resign from his company (after about 14 years of employment), his income from benefits alone would be more than he gets now.

Can this be true? It sounds as if the way the benefits system works, it is actually discouraging people with an illness from a) being employed and b) keeping hold of their employment, and therefore their will and desire to return to work?

Allan
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  • minimini Forumite
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    The benefits system allows a very small amount for a person to live on, what may seem atin bit from an employer may feed thousands according to those who setthe basic cost of living. I presume he's been on that benefit a while to be on that rate, I would need to know if he savings/mortgage/does he live with anyone as a partner? to give further help. Iit could be that he would be entitled to council tax benefit or/and housing benefit, depends so much on persoanl circumstances, also incapacity benefit is dealt with by separate offices than council tax/housing benefit, so depending on the knowledge/personality of the person on the benefit enquiry line, who knows what they will tell you, I usually ring at least twice to check out details for people& ofen find the answers differ :-/

    mini
  • He called the Benefits Agency hotline or whatever they are called to see if there were other benefits he could possibly claim, and they told him that because he is still employed by his company (receiving a meagre token income), he can only claim incapacity benefit.

    I believe people on disability/incapacity benefits are allowed to earn £20 a week before it affects benefits. They class it as therapeutic work. I would explore this further with his present employer and the benefits agency.
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    I checked this out with him - he gets £690 nett per month from his company, and £181.80 every 2 weeks incapacity benefit. I didnt think he got as much as that to be honest.

    However it still seems a very meagre amount considering his 'real' salary was in the region of 40K.

    He's single, no partner, not sure of savings, and has been on long term sick leave since 1996. I would have thought that that would have given him some rights to a kind of 'medical early retirement' if there is such a thing.
  • minimini Forumite
    833 Posts
    I think medical retirement is alot harder to obtain now than it was.

    Your friends income sounds quite a lot more than the governemnt would allocate for a singl eperson to live on, the other benefit which doe not depend on income is Disability living allowance (DLA) it depends on the nature of his incapacity, his prognosis & whether he has medical people who will back him in his claim.

    I have never worked with council tax, I know it depends on income but am not sure if they allow for expenses as well, if he had a high mortgage it may be worth at least getting a form (from his local council office)

    bfn
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    He suffers from depression and saw a psychiatrist about 18 months ago who told him that its very unlikely he'd work again, other than perhaps a few hours in a charity shop...

    I think his GP is behind that decision too. I'll tell him what you've said - you never know.

    Gracias
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    In the coming days, I might be able to provide information which will help someone. My wife suffered from shingles late Jan, it was to the side of her face but travelled inwards, rather than round her head. As a result, (apart from the pain) she developed partial facial palsy, but is slowly recovering from that, severe distorted hearing, which prevents multiple conversations and stores etc are hell, but the main problem is a major balance problem. She is reasonably ok in the house, as the ground is flat and carpeted, and she knows where the furniture is, but outside, no two area's of footpath are the same level, consequently as one foot lifts to land on what she thinks to be the same level, she falls to whichever side the camber is. She is virtually housebound. Without me for her to hold on to, she would be lost. She has also taken to use a stick, this enables her to shuffle around in some shops, depending on the nature of the store and the shelves, using a store trolley is usefull. Anway, she has been on incapacity benefit since Jan/Feb and is due to be seen by their medical team on the 27th of this month to see if she qualifies to continue with this I/B. Further to that, she now qualifies for DLA for mobility at the higher rate. She is employed by the council as a warden of the elderly, and it looks as though when we see the consultant tomorrow (20th), he will state she is no longer able to work, and we also anticipate she will be pensioned off by the council (age 52) and re-housed, as this is a council appoinment with living accommodation. Will keep you posted.
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    Sorry to hear that, Island_Man...sounds awful. A friend of mine in Florida is also recovering from shingles related Palsy but thankfully in time it is a mendable condition (in most cases). Usually, a high and prolonged course of Valtrex helps, but thats dependent on whether the shingles is diagnosed early enough - in most cases, shingles just 'appears' before its even noticed. Also, I'm curious - is your wife suffering from Palsy or Bells Palsy as there is a difference (not vast, however. Bells Palsy usually affects the face/eyes)

    Your wife must have quite a severe case, as its fairly unusual (in my experience) to be considered 'unfit for work' (ie for life) unless it is deemed 'eternal' by the benefits agency, and that usually takes them an eternity to assess (possibly because they'd rather not pay out)

    Thankfully, though, the government seems to be getting a little more sympathetic to cases like this. Its only recently that they changed their definitions of 'disabled' to include psychiatric conditions such as long term, chronic Depression and Anorexia/Bulimia. I would imagine that they also take the age of the claimant into respect too.

    GP's (and also psychologists/psychiatrists in the case of psychiatric illness) also have a large part to play in the outcome of a benefits agency assessment, so regular updates to/from your wife's GP are beneficial.

    I know its easier said than done, but try not to worry too much if you can. Although its a huge period of change for you, its usually the worry of the unknown that causes more distress than the unknown issue itself. The main thing is for your wife to be comfortable and of course, to make a speedy recovery

    Keep us posted. You might like to try the Money Savers Arms - just a gathering place for a beer and a chat. Andrea, our esteemed hostess, has a very fine motto "Leave your worries on the doorstep and put your money on the bar" ;)

    Allan

    p.s. one other medical suggestion - when your wife is well enough, you might want to suggest that she takes an eye test. Often, when shingles affects the face, it can cause retinal scarring which makes light tolerance difficult. There isnt anything that can be done about retinal scarring but its good as a 'heads up' in case there's a bright sunny day (if only!) in which case a good pair of sunglasses can make all the difference.
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    Now that IS interesting Alan. First of all, my wife had been admitted to hospital because she was unable to tolerate the medication that had been prescribed for a diagnosis of Cellulitis (infection of the skin). This was in the area which was soon to become Shingles, and it was while she was in hospital they called in the microbiologist because they suspected shingles might be setting in. Don't even think it might have been a misdiagnosis in the first place, although that is something I will be asking later today with the consultant. So, when you say would the shingles been spotted soon enough, I suppose the answer is yes. Regarding the last comment, eyes and light. My wife finds bright days and especially sunlight, just too much. She is SO bothered about wearing sunglasses now its well into autumn "what will people think ?" she says. I always say, "sod people"!. I'm not going to comment about your suggestion that she may or may not receive benefit for an indefinate period (or something like that), we shall just have to wait and see. What I do no is this:-
    if I were not available she would not be able to walk more than six steps outside without falling over. It is only when you really look at the ground, you notice that the pavement is full of camber, her brain dosen't seem to be able to recognise this, and if her foot suddenly has to go a shade lower or higher, due to camber, that's it, she lunges that way. I can't imagine how busy I will be, or the phone line tonight, but I will endevour to get back on here, if not, I am taking a day's leave tomorrow, simply so that we can sit and talk. Thanks for your interest.
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    Hi Island_Man :)

    Dont get me wrong, I certainly wasnt criticising the potential fact that you wife might be 'written off' from a medical point of view. It certainly sounds as if she should be - and not because she's worthy of being 'written off', but when people have that much trouble handling their own day-to-day lives without assistance, its obvious to most people that a 9-5 life is just too much. It was more a comment about the benefits agency, who for many a year have (in many cases) paid out to those less deserving, often to the detriment of those who are far more deserving.

    As for sunglasses, well you must tell your wife that wearing sunglasses in any weather is chic, cool and captivating ;)

    But yes I can see her point of view. However if she does have retinal scarring, sunlight would bother her (how much it bothers her depends on how sunny it is, but sometimes even dull days can take their toll. Also, during this time of year when the sun is low in the sky, looking straight ahead can also be difficult because you cant avoid the rays from the sun). Also, on those odd days when its been raining and then the sun shines, the sidewalks tend to get very 'shiny' making it hard for a lot of people to walk properly, even if they dont have an eye condition. Obviously, scarring isnt a 'good' thing, but its also not a dangerous thing. She might just want to have her eyes checked, so that an optician can give her some qualified advice. In America, retinal scarring is quite common, and you see an awful lot of (usually middle aged) people wearing sunglasses in the most 'unusual' of places but nobody gives them a second look, as most people realise its because of an eye condition. Also, if your wife wears glasses, sometimes a good option is 'Varitint' (not sure what the brand name is in the UK). They are the glasses that automatically adjust to the weather conditions, ie they get darker if the sun shines strongly. I dont believe they are very expensive, perhaps a few pounds more than regular lenses.

    As for shingles, its a funny old condition. Because shingles is a very accelerated form of herpes (obviously not 'naughty' herpes ;)) it can spread like wild fire. I had an instance about 3 years ago, when I was out with a friend who had a spot above his eyebrow. He said it was itchy and kept scratching it. During the space of about 2 hours, his forehead was covered with spots. It looked very much like shingles to me, so I took him to his GP who diagnosed shingles, and he was off work for about a month. So its a very serious complaint, but the early stages of it can be so easily overlooked because the onset is so rapid.

    As 'gloom and doom' as it all sounds, very often it isnt. Do try to remember (and tell your wife to remember) that this kind of illness can often be overcome in time. As the days pass, shingles and its side effects often become less severe, and in most cases it completely clears up. Life isnt usually the same afterwards, because 9-5 doesnt always become a reality again, but new chapters of life tend to open, ie part time work - which can often be more fulfilling because a person can return to work but also have enough time to concentrate on their personal lives too.

    Also, a well-meant word of advice; never forget the well being of the carer. Try not to run yourself into the ground either, ok? Things will get better in time Im sure, and when they do, you wont want to be run ragged yourself..! So try to take care of yourself too.

    Now as this isnt the 'medical forum' ;) and because I'll probably be told off for writing this here, lets talk more on Money Savers Arms. Just look at the list of boards, and you'll see it down at the bottom.

    See ya later
    Allan
  • SystemSystem Forumite, Community Admin
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    I am sorry for taking this forum away from its main objective. I had seen reference to MoneySavers Arms and often wondered what it was all about,not for one minute expecting there was a section so called. I will now transfer.
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