Friday, 1 May 2015

Renewing my Disabled aka Concessionary Bus Pass (or not?)

After writing this I submitted it to 'Blogging Against Disablism Day' - it was serendipitous, I hadn't realised it was today (1 May 2015) but something nice had to happen today to balance all the bad ****. There is also a Facebook page with lots of links to other people's posts.  Please read. 

Renewing my Disabled aka Concessionary Bus Pass (or not?)
South Yorkshire Concessionary Bus Pass
Over the past few days I have been trying to arrange for the renewal of my disabled bus pass.  I have had this pass for 5 years.  I got it because my GP wrote a simple letter explaining that I have Crohn's Disease, Fibromyalgia and Asthma and have difficulty walking very far.  You would think it would be simple to get it renewed.  Well it is not.  Be warned, if you have a pass and it runs out in the next 6 weeks or so, start the process of getting it renewed now.  Mine expires on 10 May 2015.  I have NO HOPE of getting a new one before it expires now.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2015
So far this week I have phoned Travel South Yorkshire, who told me to phone Barnsley Council.  I need a 'letter of eligibility' from the Council before the Transport people can renew the pass.  The Council will only issue the 'letter of eligibility' if I have 8 points from the Personal Independence Payment (the new Disablitity Living Allowance) or a letter from my doctor.  

On Wednesday I posted on Facebook (which I find very supportive when I'm down):
"A title for a very ranty blog post that I'm not going to write, "How it took me four hours on the phone to get an appointment to renew my disabled bus pass". Honest truth - from 9.30am to 15.30 this afternoon (with a two hour break for a talk at Cudworth Fire Station) I've spoken to the SYPTE, the Council, my Drs, CAB, the Northern General Hospital and the DWP." 

Obviously I've changed my mind on writing a blog post since then! Sometimes writing it all down helps me.  You never know ...

As I say above, I phoned my doctor's surgery (twice) as instructed by the Council to try to get a letter. Apparently the surgery have been told NOT to write letters for anyone.  Despite that I made an appointment to see a GP.  I was willing, and had the OH's agreement, to pay for a private letter, similar to the one I got (eventually) for my Open University exams.  However, after struggling onto a bus to Monk Bretton (I am having a really bad week after a trip to London last weekend), the doctor I saw absolutely refused to write a letter of any kind. 

On my return home this morning I posted on Facebook again:
"My GP has just refused to write even a private letter supporting the renewal of my disabled bus pass. She stated that the Barnsley PCT had told all the doctors not to write letters any more. I just looked up Barnsley PCT - we haven't had one since 2013. Has anyone else had this problem? Any ideas on how I can get my pass renewed? I have requested a letter from my consultant and from the DWP - I am in receipt of NI credits as a valid claimant of ESA - I get no money though as they means test and poor [OH's name here] is meant to keep me. I don't know what I'll do if I can't get to the Archives once a week ... it was my only real outing."

Various friends responded that I should try CAB (done once but will try again) or the local social services and try applying for PIP anyway and appealing when I get turned down.  

I spent 23 minutes on the phone to the DWP applying for PIP.  They will send me a form (Facebook friends advised that I should get CAB to help me fill it in) and also send me for an assessment.  

The criteria for 8 points of PIP mobility is that I am able to walk 20 metres but not 50 metres, safely, repeatedly and in a reasonable time, to an acceptable standard.  I think it all depends who measures this.  On a good day I can walk to the local Co-op which is about 160 metres, although I have trouble going much further, on a bad day I can't even get out of bed to make the OH his tea. 

My next Facebook post was: 
"Citizens Advice (in South Wales) won't make me an appointment (in Barnsley) until I have the PIP form in my hand. They put me onto Age UK (in Devon) who gave me the number for Age UK in Barnsley. Well, I think I could have managed that myself if I'd had any hope it would work. Basically no-one can understand WHY my GP refuses to write a letter stating my disabilities. I have not worked since 2009 ... I have had a genuine claim for ESA allowed since January 2010. All I want is a bus pass. I'm not asking for actual money. Just the ability to get out and see more than these four walls occasionally ... and to support the local Archives who are having their hours cut because people don't visit them enough."

I was by this time crying and very upset.  I haven't been well this week and this is not helping. I believe the government's changes to the way they give money (or benefits in kind) to disabled people is the reason behind the intransigence of my GP to write a letter.  And of course the reduction in distance you can walk has been well discussed online in the past two years.  It just hadn't affected me so far.  Well, now it has.  And it hurts.

The letter that I asked for on Wednesday from the DWP has arrived today, but it doesn't even mention ESA, it just says I have a Credits Claim dating back to January 2010.  The possibility of a letter from my consultant is my last hope ...

AgeUK logo
The Age UK people in Barnsley are willing to send someone out to me to help me fill in the PIP form when it comes, which is at least better than CAB who would have wanted me to go to Wellington House - which is about 0.3 of a mile from the bus station, nearly 500 metres.

In the meantime I'll just sit here and try to be calm ...

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