Saturday, 23 August 2014

Being on Benefits


I’ve been thinking about doing this rather controversial post for a while, but in all honestly I’ve felt a bit scared about doing it. You can’t go a day without reading in the Daily Mail about how awful people are who claim benefits, or about people conning the benefit system. Yes, there are people out there who play the system and wrongly claim benefits, but I wanted to write an article from the other side of the coin because there are plenty of people who actually deserve the benefits they’re applying for.

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There is such a stigma surrounding being on benefits, which is such a shame and often makes it very difficult to ask for help when you really need it. People on benefits are labelled as scroungers, lazy and idol, but in reality if you truly need to claim benefits you are likely to be extremely motivated and desperate to get yourself back some independence.

It’s such a shame that there are people out there who give needing benefits a bad name. After all, the reason benefits are available is for people who are too unwell to be able to financially support themselves, or who try working all the hours they can, but still struggle to support their family.

There are people out there who are more than happy to rely on benefits and not bother even thinking about the idea of working. They lie about their ailments to enable them to claim hundreds of pounds worth of benefits, and, in all reality, I have no idea how they do it! For someone who is genuinely unwell, claiming benefits is incredibly difficult. There are numerous forms to fill out, medical evidence to obtain and appeals and interviews to attend. When you’ve got a chronic health condition, claiming benefits is incredibly tiring and frustrating. How people who are not really unwell manage to be entitled to benefits is beyond me, because I know some really unwell people who have to fight tooth and nail to get the financial help they need and deserve.

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Claiming benefits can also be incredibly down heartening for someone who would give anything to be able to financially support themselves.  In my experience I feel constantly guilty for relying on the state, when I would love nothing more to be well enough to work full time and support myself. It can be incredibly degrading having the stigma attached to you and feeling like a second rate citizen for needing some extra help. Yes there are people out there who would quite happily claim all the help they can get, but from my experience, the majority of genuinely ill people I know do everything they can to support themselves as much as possible. They don’t want to claim benefits, but in reality if they don’t they may end up homeless and unable to purchase the basics such as food and electricity.

I spend my life working on trying to build myself up enough to perhaps work part-time, so I can at least feel I am doing something towards supporting myself. But every time I have managed to get to a place where I am working a bit, I have had a massive relapse and ended up in hospital. It’s incredibly demoralising and the last thing you want to think about when you’re that unwell is filling out hundreds of forms and answering confusing questions just to get you a little bit of money to help you get by.

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I find it incredibly sad that genuine people are tarred with the same brush as those who cheat the system, because in reality there are so many people out there who are deserving of the financial help they apply for. I expect there are also a lot of people out there who struggle every day to feed themselves and their families because they are too proud or scared of what people will think if they ask for help. Benefits are there to support people who need it, so if you’re struggling financially due to illness or particular situations, or know someone who is, please know that it does not make you any less of a person to ask for some help. It is nothing you should feel ashamed of so do make sure you look into what you might be entitled to.

It can be quite a confusing process, so if you’re unsure of what help you might be able to get, get in contact with your local CAB office for support and advice on getting the correct financial help.

Have you ever needed to claim benefits? How did it make you feel? Or do you believe the stigma that surrounds claiming benefits?


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4 comments:

  1. I agree - I know some people who are genuinely unable to work due to physical and/or mental health problems - In fact now they are probably unemployable even if they could work. Every year or so they are stressed out by lots of form filling and providing evidence of their illness. It feels like others get extra money to handed to them on a plate without doing anything - This may not be the case but it's what it looks like from the outside. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a controversial topic!

    www.conversationswithcaroline.com

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    1. Thank you for your comments Caroline - I totally agree that it seems like some people just get handed everything on a plate, when they don't necessarily deserve it, while others fight tooth and nail when they are entitled to support and sometimes don't even get it then xx

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  2. It's nice seeing the flip side for a change, like you said it's often the other side that is shown in the media. However, I think that when people automatically tar everyone with the same brush it is completely out of order. The system is there to help people and people need to realize this, thanks for the great post.

    http://Thoughtsandthunder.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Abbie I'm really glad to get some positive comments about this post, as, like you say it's really not fair when people are all tarred with the same brush. Thank you for reading! xx

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