Posts Tagged ‘incapacity benefit’

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Tuesday Round-up for Friends

2008 September 30

Not a lot of people know this(?)

(This is a longer post than usual and may be of interest to anyone claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB) in the UK where severe migraine is part or all of the claim.)

In the UK, welfare benefits like IB are decided by a points system. The system is now changing, but as far as I know it’s still a points system. (Unless you know different!) Anyway. To qualify for IB for a physical incapacity you must either:

  • Score a minimum of 15 points, or
  • Satisfy a government hired medical practitioner that your need is sufficient.

My IB is now up for what is called normal review. When this happens depends on how you last qualified. But the minimum period seems to be one year. As part of that review I once more have to complete the questionnaire on my health. It’s called a personal capacity assessment (PCA), and officially labelled an IB50. (The form itself is titled “Incapacity for Work Questionnaire“.)

After the problems I had previously with claims, which I won’t go into here, I thought I’d look around for advice. One site I found is Benefits and Work, included in my Migraine FAQs page: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/

Benefits and Work use the UK’s Freedom of Information Act to find out what the Benefits Agency don’t tell you. This includes this points system stuff. It turns out that although I now know I have two conditions causing headache, migraine may score some points under “fits or something like this“. The section includes a box where you can write more information if needs be. Benefits and Work say in their booklet (from the government’s own guide) that this refers to “an involuntary episode of lost or altered consciousness“. They go on to point out (one of the site’s creators is a barrister): “the law in this area is rather confused, but it may be the case that vertigo, severe migraines and other conditions that cause ‘altered consciousness’ may score points under this activity.”

Now in order to make a lawful claim, you must answer the question honestly and as completely as you can. This means you can’t claim to have epilepsy instead of migraine, for example. But it also means that you should answer if you have severe migraines. That’s what the box is for. Looking back on my migraine diary, I can honestly tick the box for “I have a fit or something like this at least once a month” (on average). Or certainly “I have a fit or something like this occasionally”. I will then complete the box with more information. Why?

Again, from the government by Work and Benefits, the system as it stands awards:

  • 15 points if you have a “fit or something like this” at least once a month,
  • 12 points if you have had one at least twice in the last 6 months before the claim date,
  • 8 points if you have had one once in the last 6 months before the claim date.

It is then up to the Benefits Agency to assess whether the episodes reported qualify. To give non-migraineurs who may not understand how migraine could qualify under this I’ll give you examples of those altered consciousness I have had which fall in that 6 month period:

  • 2008/04/24: Aphasia – complete loss of ability to use or process language,
  • 2008/07/11: (1st attack) Aphasia and confusion,
  • 2008/07/11: (2nd attack) Anxiety and a sense of a malign presence in an empty room,
  • 2008/07/14: Hemiplegic attack followed by aphasia,
  • 2008/07/28: Hemiplegic attack followed by jamais-vu – where things, places, people that are familiar become unfamiliar – and partial inability to recognise faces or understand written language.
  • 2008/08/11: Sense of a malign presence in an empty room,
  • 2008/08/21: Confusion.
  • 2008/08/24: Hemiplegic attack followed by confusion.

I also suffer a general malaise with and after migraine. This also affects my ability to think, and has affected me generally 20 of the 69 days since I started by detailed diary on 23rd July.