We are only just beginning to understand the long term effects of COVID-19, but Martha has been living it. Her life profoundly changed because of COVID. She continues to suffer from many of the symptoms more than two years after first contracting the virus and her activities and mobility are much reduced.
Because her circumstances changed, she qualified for a benefit called the Personal Independence Payment, a benefit for people who need help with daily activities or getting around because of a long-term illness or disability. With the help of another local agency, she filled in the application form and was awarded the standard rate of daily living; despite being unable to leave the house without a wheelchair, she was not given the mobility component of the Personal Independence Payment.
She appealed and was again denied the mobility component.
In agreement that the lack of mobility component was in error, the local agency referred Martha to Citizens Advice Barnet to attain advice about the appeal process.
“I worked with two people at Citizens Advice Barnet – both really helped me and were really kind and really helpful. They made it clear what to expect and explained the risk in going for Mandatory Reconsideration.
“I couldn’t have done it without them. The forms are so complicated and when you’re not well, it’s amazing having someone to help you.”
While waiting for a Tribunal, Martha received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) awarding the enhanced mobility rate.
“It was a relief,” she says. And one that came just in time. Because of the rising costs of living – Martha particularly mentioned food and energy prices – they’re finding that they are just managing to pay their bills.
“With the money from my Personal Independence Payment, we’re just scraping by. I don’t think we’d have managed without that.” Even so, they’ve made some concessions during their weekly shop and have cut out many of the “treats.”
She recommends that those struggling, particularly with the complicated Personal Independence Payment forms, to reach out. “Reach out – they were brilliant and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
I couldn’t have done it without [Citizens Advice Barnet]. The forms are so complicated and when you’re not well, it’s amazing having someone to help you.