It’s hard to believe it was a year ago I wrote the blog post that earned me such unexpected notoriety. What that also means is it’s been 12 months, so I have to reapply for my benefit. It’s a process that terrifies me.
I appreciate that situations change and so benefit entitlements need to be reassessed. But if a beneficiary’s situation changes, they are required to tell WINZ immediately anyway. And my doctor has said, on the medical certificates I have to provide every three months, that my situation will not. Due to my (incurable) illness, I can’t be expected to work more than I am any time soon.
This will be my third time going through the benefit application process. At least this time I have a really good case manager. This does not lessen my anxiety, or the rigmarole I must now participate in.
The letter letting me know my benefit will be stopped unless I reapply was the latest in the never-ending stream that arrive at least once a week. I have asked WINZ why I get so many, and if I could not just get emails. Most of these are just automated confirmations that they have received my income declaration – which I do online every week. Regardless, I feel the same fear every time I get one.
The first part of re-application can be done online, which is useful. I’ve completed that bit. I’m guessing I’ll get a letter soon saying I’ve done it, which, yes, I know, thank you.
There’s three parts to my benefit. Jobseeker Support, the Accommodation Supplement, and the Disability Allowance.
The ‘Jobseeker’ benefit was created by the latest National welfare reforms, which rolled the Unemployment and Sickness benefits into one. While I have a medical exemption from looking for work (because, as I have said a million times, I have a job; I’m too unwell to do it), I still have to fulfill many of the same criteria as someone who is unemployed. So for this bit, I will need to obtain and take into WINZ:
– Proof of my employment and any income from any source for the last 52 weeks (which I already declare to them every week)
– Proof of any cash assets I do or do not have (printout of bank balances)
For the Accommodation Supplement, I will need to take in proof of my address and a letter from my landlord with the rent amount.
The Disability Allowance is possibly the most stressful bit. I have to provide receipts for the things which qualify for help, and a letter from my doctor stating that these things are necessary for my health. I’ve been keeping receipts all year, so the first bit should be no problem. I’ve got all my bus tickets, and receipts for doctors, specialists, swimming and other exercise, and groceries. But I will have to pay to go to the doctor to get the letter. And even then, WINZ can disagree with him and request I see a WINZ-selected doctor.
I’ll have my appointment next week. My stomach gets in knots just thinking about it. Rarely do I have all the information they require on the first meeting, even though I follow all the instructions. Usually I have to go away and get other things. This is sort’ve ok now that I am more mobile and have slightly more energy. It was a complete nightmare when I first got sick.
I guess the reason it’s so stressful is this massive organisation, with such strict rules and rigmarole, holds my life in their hands. They can make the decision that I don’t qualify. They can remove my means for feeding and housing myself. I know how lucky I am to get that support. I am very grateful for it. And I know why the rules are there. But my anxiety doesn’t really compute logic.
The appointment is next Tuesday. I’ve asked WINZ before if they read this blog, because I know they have previously. I saw it quoted when I requested all of my information from them under the Official Information Act. When I asked, they said they “check online media from time to time.”
I’ll report on Tuesday.