Anyone who has read my previous blogs will be aware of the problems I had in getting my Work Capability Assessment (WCA) recorded.
Well after the 4 month fight, my recorded WCA finally took place on July 20th; it was a much improved affair, but still felt hugely pointless. My carer and I spend over an hour going over my claim form with a very pleasant and friendly Dr and a very very fine tooth comb.
The Dr literately asked me point by point to confirm (or otherwise one would suspect) exactly what was written; “so you have Fibromyalgia” , “Yes”, and it was initially diagnosed in 1998 by your GP”, “Yes”, who then referred you to Hospital X in 2000″, “Yes”; and so it went on covering each of my health problems and the affects of them and the associated medication.
It was only interrupted by small yelps of pain, me kicking the desk as cramps set repeatability set in, or by the Dr repeating what she thought my ever decreasing voice volume answered as the interview progressed.
At the end I signed for and duly received my hard fought for CD!
The dreaded brown envelop with the DWP follow up arrived on my doorstep days later and inside was their decision, I was in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). I do however believe I should be in the Support group, so the next step was to phone and ask for the report; I did this on July 30th.
Not having received the report by mid August I phoned again, only to find I now have to follow an incredibly long automated test BEFORE I can get through to the DWP call Centre; so I start by (attempting) to key the numbers from my NI number to the telephone, this is followed by a request for my date of birth (in full), another attempt to stab the buttons on my phone hard enough for them to picked up! Then come a new one to me – key in an 8 digit memorable code (not your birth date) WTF; so I desperately rummage through all my families birth date looking for one I think I might be able to recall, and again a 3rd attempt to stab this in, this done I’m asked for a 4 digit PIN! Finally the automated voice assures me I’ll be able to use the chosen memorable date and PIN to access the DWP in future, I’m then in the queue to speak to someone!!!
20 minutes later I’m through, and by now I’m stressed and in pain, so I croak at the customer service person the reason I’m calling, “I would like a copy of my report from my recent WCA please” I say, “first I need to take you through some security questions” is the reply; so I give them my NI number (again), my name, date of birth, previous address, any other names I’ve been known by, my land line and mu mobile number; and then I get told “I’m sorry, but you’ve failed the security questions”! “What?” I’m then told the customer service member can’t go any further and I’ll just have to try again.
So, I’m now upset, and decide to calm down before going through that again; half an hour and lots of ‘calming thoughts’ later I try again; this time I actually get through security and am able to actually request my copy of the,report, and I’m told I’ll receive it in 5/7 working days.
By August 8th, my report hasn’t arrived so I call again and guess, an identical scenario, including me ‘failing’ security the first time happens again!
To cut a very long blog short this drama plays itself out like Groundhog Day a further 6 times until Thursday this week ; when a savvy customer service rep says “I can see you’ve rang at least 3 times this week , so I’ll get a senior officer to call you back” HURRAY because by now the month I have to appeal is almost up!
I received my call back yesterday and after telling her my full name, date of birth and post code she says ‘I’m a bit confused because I’ve been told you want a form (and I can’t remember the number she used) and thats one we use to ask for further information?’ I explain I actually want a copy of my WCA report and she tells me she can she I requested it on July 30th but she has no way of telling if it’s been sent; she promises to copy and post it to me immediately and out a note on my file stating the problems why my appeal might be late.
I asked what was going on with the security problems and she “the customer service team only have the information from your initial claim so if you’ve moved, changed your phone number(s) for example, you’ll fail the security” I also asked about the introduction of the 8 digit password and PIN and why when you’ve set this up it is not being recognised on subsequent phone calls, she was unaware of the reasons for this.
Surely no one could make this up! What is the point in the DWP introducing these elaborate ‘security’ systems that then don’t work and has anyone else had similar problems?
If I was of the ‘paranoid’ type I’d think the DWP were trying to stop us calling and thereby losing out on yet more of our rights!!!