What benefits am I entitled to?
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

Chronic Insomnia and Clinical Depression benefits eligibility.

SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
I have always suffered from insomnia and depression, although only properly diagnosed when I was 18 by a GP. My current medication has been at the strongest level possible for many years now, (citalopram, zopliclone and promethazine hydrochloride), and has greatly varying and unpredictable effect on me on a day to day basis. Mostly very little effect. My GPs over the years have never recommended me for psychiatric treatment, despite my requests, as they have all believed it would not be fruitful due to there being no underlying event or cause of the problems. 

I have tried many job types over the years (I am now 39), but they have always ended badly. I am very unreliable due to the insomnia, when I do eventually sleep or the pills kick in early in the morning, I don't sleep through my alarm by say only an hour, I am dead to the world and a fire alarm can't wake me for the whole day. If I don't manage to sleep at all, sometimes not for over 48 hours, I am useless at work anyway. If I don't lose my job through the insomnia alone, there is also the depression which I have learnt to control for the main part over the years, but some days I honestly can't even make it out of bed and just want to hide from the world. This one type of depressive episode seems to come on due to any small amount of perceived pressure. Other types of episodes mean I can't drive due to an overwhelming feeling of not being bothered whether or not I turn a corner or crash into a wall. Others involve aspects of anxiety or paranoia. There are so many aspects to my mental illness, it would impossible to cover them all in anything less than a novel.

My last job ended in 2006 and I started purely living off my husband's wages. His income was enough that we did not consider even looking into any form of benefit. However, my husband retired last month and we are now living off his state pension. We have applied for pension credit and have been informed we may get around £10 a week from savings credit, however nothing from guarantee credit due to my husband's savings.

We privately rent, would have to wait 10 years for social housing, don't have enough savings to buy a 1 bed flat and obviously can't get a mortgage.From the information I can find online, as we don't qualify for guarantee credit, we don't qualify for housing benefit or council tax benefit until we have exhausted my husband's savings.

I started to explore the options for help due to my mental conditions, but it is incredibly confusing and I am not at all sure that I would even qualify on mental illness grounds. I know that I can not work and that all previous attempts to work have been very detrimental to my mental stability. But is that grounds for help? Also there's the doctor element, having never been referred to a psychiatrist, taking medications that are supposed to help and barely ever seeing a single GP more than once, I am completely unsure about getting a letter from my GP to support any claim as I have seen is required.

If you believe I may be entitled to help, please could you tell me which benefit to apply for, how I explain why I can't work on the application form, what I ask my GP to put in the required letter, how a medical assessment is carried out for mental illness, and anything else helpful that I may not be aware of through my online research.

The stress and confusion is naturally negatively affecting me, so any help and advice is greatly appreciated.

Replies

  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    Hi @Salubrius, having read your post a few things come to mind. Firstly that your claim would all be about your mental health and not any physical disability. This is a weakness of the PIP process which is the benefit you would be applying for. PIP is about how your disability affects you on a daily basis rather than the illness/disability itself but of course it's better to have a diagnosis which you have albeit only from a GP as you then have proof you do suffer from whatever it is. You could start by looking at the PIP points system, by doing a search you will find this on a number of sites. If you think you meet the criteria you then have the problem of convincing the DWP of that. Read as much as you can about PIP including all the problems people have as you will learn a lot as I have done. Next thing would be to fill in a claim form. Choosing a "descriptor" (these are the things listed in the points system) at the beginning will help a lot as you then have something to describe that you cannot do. Forget what you can do as this will be picked up on and used against you.
               I don't understand why your Doctor hasn't referred you to a specialist or even the IAPT service as all problems have a root cause which can't be found in a 10min. GP appointment. However there's lots of other ways of getting evidence. I've got a mental health problem and physical things too and a lack of evidence so I became pro-active. Your Doctor may refer you to someone if you explain you need a more detailed report for benefit purposes. If not then you could pay for a Private appointment or just try with GP evidence. Friends and family can write letters to support what you've put in your clam form and you can ask your surgery to print off any of your online medical records. There is usually a small charge for this. From what you've said Daily Living will be based on what you can't do when you've not slept or when your depression is bad. Remember it's based on what you can't do for the majority of days i.e. over 50% of the year and if it would take you more than twice as long as someone without  your problems to do something that also counts towards getting any points. Mobility might be difficult as you don't say you have any problems walking and if you go out at all on your own you will be counted a being able to plan and go on a journey. Anyhow post again when you've had a look at the criteria and tell us what you think. The benefit advisors will be along to help and people on here can give you lots of advice if you have to go to a face to face assessment but that can wait.   
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    Hi @wildlife, thank you for your response. I looked up the PIP points system as you suggested and it seems to concentrate on physical problems. The planning and following journeys descriptors, although including psychological stress, don't have what causes me psychological distress relating to it. I over-plan, over-think, extensively worry about possible problems or situations which may occur (no matter how seemingly outlandish to others). I'm not overwhelmed by the psychological distress though. Similar with making budgeting decisions. The reason I am asking not my husband is because I have to plan, know where we stand financially and budget. Not planning and not knowing causes me great psychological stress.

    It appears that there is definitely no point in me applying for PIP, it seems that my mental health problems are not catered for in this benefit. You have been very helpful in allowing me to rule it out.
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    OK @Salubrius but keep your options open, there may be others who will reply with different ideas. I didn't mention that at a PIP assessment you can have someone specially trained in mental health as an assessor, but if you really feel you would have no chance that's up to you. Have you looked at Employment and Support Allowance if you're working age? Or maybe you could do something to earn a bit of money that could be done on your own terms as and when you feel able. I guess you'll be better off when you're both retired as happened to us. The crazy thing about this country is it doesn't pay to have any savings. I had an Aunt with Dementia who I looked after. She never married and although she'd worked all her life she also spent it all bar a few thousand. So she had help with her care and everything. It's the middle of the road people who suffer who are just over the limit in earnings and savings but there's nothing we can do only try and help ourselves.  
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    @wildlife yes I came across the ESA. I may qualify on a few points, but it looks like it will be very hard to accurately answer the questions and state my case clearly when applying. It is again very physical disability orientated, but not as much as the PIP. I don't understand why there aren't different assessment forms for people with mental disabilities, this system is ridiculous! I have tried over the last few years doing tasks online for money. But the only types of work available online are incredibly low paying and monotonous, 1 cent per task and a solid hour doing tasks netting a whole $1, $2 if it's a quick task or watch adverts for 0.01 cent each advert.There appears to be no minimum wage on the internet.
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    @Salubrius I have an adopted son with undiagnosed mental health problems possibly Asberge's but he's only ever been diagnosed with depression and learning difficulties which aren't apparent in an hour long assessment as he just answers yes to everything unless I'm with him. Physically he's fine as he's only 32. If I  did go with him now I'd probably have my benefit taken off me although all my disabilities are genuine apart from walking with a stick they are only really known by me and my hubby who is with me 24/7. My son is on ESA and PIP but I dread any review as he'd struggle to carry on getting it now and yet he can't work. You're in a similar position in that someone would have to be with you over a number of years OR believe what you tell them to get any benefit. That's what is so wrong with the present system. It's way too narrow and doesn't cater for such a wide range of problems. You probably won't like me saying this but the only thing I can think of is that you seem very resigned to the two things you had diagnosed years ago as if they're for life and there's nothing you can do? Am I right? I had terrible insomnia when my boys were young for about 15/20 years but I'm OK now. I use a lot of alternative remedies and suppliments which help me a lot. I'm 66 and shouldn't really still be alive. I had councilling for my insomnia which helped change my way of thinking about not being able to sleep. I used to say it was a phobia but one you can't avoid like people do with other phobias as you  have to face it every night. Anyhow, food for thought maybe?
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    @wildlife Oh yes, definitely resigned to having them for life. The insomnia is from birth according to my parents and my earliest memories, I didn't even know that not sleeping was unusual until my teens. The depression either started, or intensified, around 14 years old with the onset of puberty. Both appear to be somehow chemical or hormone related, with no trigger responsible and nothing I have tried over the last 20+ years of adulthood helping. Thus, doctors just try different combinations of pills. The combination I am on now numb the depression enough that I don't have the desire to cut myself, which I use as one example because I didn't realise until I tried to come off the citalopram a few years ago, how much they do actually help on a day to day basis. But it is only the extreme depression they numb, I can still spiral downwards badly for no apparent reason. If I don't take the sleeping pills combination one night, I don't sleep. Sometimes I don't even sleep when I take them and they are the strongest you can be prescribed. I have tried so many alternative remedies, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, everything in the past and nothing makes any difference. I've heard it all, read it all, tried it all. Like I said, the doctors have never referred me for councilling or to a psychologist, despite me requesting it with several doctors over the years, all stating reasons such as two year waiting lists and it wouldn't help me anyway. I have no idea what I would say to one anyway, it's all just normality to me. I only found out different after moving out of my parents house, as an only child I had no idea that not sleeping and wishing you were dead was unusual, especially in your teens. I guess it's different now there's the internet and more mental health awareness.
  • pennygatespennygates Member Posts: 21 Listener
    I feel sad reading your posts, because you don't believe that your illnesses are recognised by anyone, or worthy of further attention. Insomnia is appalling, and is usually caused by depression which is an illness, a real live illness. There must be some people who have applied for PIP with your conditions. I can't believe no one has been successful with mental illness. It sounds as if it significantly affects your life, not being able to sleep must be terrible , no restorative rest to enable you to function during the day. I hope you do find a way through it, because you matter, just as much as anyone with a physical problem. Look under invisible illnesses, covered by either Scope or Benefits and Work, I can't remember who, an organisation that helps people to make applications for benefits. Good luck.
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    @pennygates Thank you for your kind words. I will look up invisible illnesses and see if they can help. At the moment everything appears useless due to these points systems, but at 2am I may as well try anything suggested, nothing better to do after all.
  • pennygatespennygates Member Posts: 21 Listener
    Hi Salubrius, I think you are ruling yourself out.' PIP is determined based on the impact that your condition has on your daily living rather than the condition itself. This is determined on your application by the assessors based on the descriptors' Chris from Scope said this to someone else with your question. You are focusing on what you can do rather than how your life is affected by your condition. For example if you are depressed you may not feel like getting dressed or getting out of bed, or mixing with people, or cooking a proper meal, or remembering to pay the bills, or being up all night and not being able to function properly during the day. Someone with experience could help you to fill in the forms from Age Concern maybe or Citizens Advice. Turn2us is an organisation who help people to do this, although there is a fee, just basic costs though. Benefit and Work a good organisation who produce help guides to help you through the process. You can get sample applications from people with similar conditions and see how they filled in their forms.
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Salubrius there is a PIP Self Test here that you can take to see if you could get points for the categories on the PIP form that might be worth you trying?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    Hi @Sam_Scope I'm confused by the "needs prompting" aspect of the questions. I mean, I haven't bothered to get out of bed, wash or get dressed since Saturday, I only did on Saturday because there was a party, and I feel comfortable in that social situation because of the alcohol (yes I know I'm not supposed to drink on my medication, but it's the only way I can relax when out). So I can do it when I have sufficient motivation, but not consistently. My husband has to keep an eye on me taking my medication, so is that prompting?
  • pennygatespennygates Member Posts: 21 Listener
    Hi Salubrius, not sure if the post is for me or @Sam-Scope. You stayed in bed and didn't wash or dress. You were unable to motivate yourself, and needed prompting, whether someone was there or not to do it. I think you are splitting hairs a bit, and making it harder for yourself than you need to. If these things happen more than 50% of the time, then it is valid. If your husband has to remind you and make sure that you take your medication, and the right amount at the right time, then one would assume you need prompting, or you wouldn't bother.
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    @pennygates I do over-think things. I am really worried about how my answers on the application will be probed in a face to face interview/assessment. The thought stresses me so much before I've even filled in a form, that I am trying to make sure my responses to the questions are as accurate as possible. If I answer incorrectly and they just say something later on like "that's not what we meant" or "that doesn't count" then I'll have gone through a dangerous level of stress and anxiety and will undoubtedly plummet downwards into a pit of hopelessness. I'm only still alive through coping mechanisms built up to avoid such psychological states, over-planning, over-thinking, not building up hopes, etc.
  • pennygatespennygates Member Posts: 21 Listener
    Hi Salubrius, you can only tell it how it is. Be honest about it but don't make it hard. Your condition I can see is causing you anxiety You are worrying about things that might happen. But as you have never tried before you have nothing to lose.
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    Hi @Salubrius, Could you and your husband go through the PIP SELF TEST together and talk about what he helps you with? He can also go with you to the assessment to support you. Before you apply, and if you both agree, he could become your appointee by asking DWP to arrange this. He will then be able to help you to answer the questions or answer for you if it's made clear to the assessor before you start that he is your "official appointee". Although the questions relate to your claim form they may be worded differently but so long as you are consistant with what help you need and why you need it than that's what's important.   
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    Thank you both, you are so kind to help me. I will talk to my husband when I've managed to get a night's sleep, I don't know when that will be because I haven't slept much this week. But I'm going to try to not allow the negatives run through my head as much and let the pills do their thing so that I can think clearly, and then try to get the forms I need. I guess PIP may be the best to try.
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    I would agree with @wildlife I think it could be really helpful to you to fill it in with your husband.

    Remember this is just a self test, if you want to apply for PIP you'll need to fill in the PIP1 form, you need to call the DWP to get this form. 

    Before you call, you’ll need:

    • your contact details, for example telephone number
    • your date of birth
    • your National Insurance number - this is on letters about tax, pensions and benefits
    • your bank or building society account number and sort code
    • your doctor or health worker’s name, address and telephone number
    • dates and addresses for any time you’ve spent abroad, in a care home or hospital

    You can then call the PIP claims line.

    DWP - PIP claims
    Telephone: 0800 917 2222

    There's lot of information about the PIP process here and a step by step guide to filling in the form here.

    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • pennygatespennygates Member Posts: 21 Listener
    Hi Sam_Scope. I'm sorry I didn't realise there was a step by step guide for the PIP form and a PIP test. I'm not very good at navigating around sites. Apologies for that to Salubrius. I recognise much of what Salubrius said as I too have mental health problems, and self defeatism can be part of it. 
  • SalubriusSalubrius Member Posts: 12 Connected
    Thank you all so much! I've bookmarked all the links suggested and will definitely do it all when my head feels up to it. I'm trying to motivate myself to brush my teeth and shower today... not going well. Think if I try to put everything to one side for the day and try to take my mind off it all somehow, I might be able to get some decent sleep and be more relaxed and motivated tomorrow to make a start. Starting is always the hardest part of anything, if I can motivate myself to do the basics I then stand a chance at forcing myself through doing more the same day. Definitely another hide in bed day today though, going offline till tomorrow.
  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    Glad to be of help!  :)
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Hi Salubrius

    I can see you've had a lot of advice from other Scope members but have not received a response from us (sorry about this it has been very busy and we can only spend one hour per day on the forum). If you have any unanswered questions please post back and one of us will respond.

    Thanks
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
Sign in or join us to comment.