I telephoned the CAB on Thursday. I asked whether I should appeal on the basis that I didn’t know what was going on and wasn’t getting any information or whether I should keep pursuing getting a statement of reasons. They said they would refer me to a specialist which would call back within 48 hours. I realised this might mean Monday morning and tried to set it aside.
I tried to take charge of something and applied for child benefit for 2son as the CAB had advised me to do, saying if I got it for the next few months that I’m entitled to, then I can appeal to have it backdated based on incorrect advice given. As it turned out, I’m glad I got that moving.
I emphasis the “tried”. People ask me how I am and in my head I’m answering that everything is actually really positive except for this massive disaster that’s looming over me. How much of that answer I actually give depends on who they are. Even then the reply tends to be me “oh that’s awful” before moving onto something else. People who don’t get benefits, who haven’t had to rely on the state simply do not realise how terrifying these things are.
I’m looking forward to the weekend, when nothing is going to happen and I can relax but then Saturday comes and with it a massive thud of post onto the floor. Apprehension grips me as I rip through the post that doesn’t really matter before opening the big heavy envelope.
Out of it pours another wedge of paperwork, slightly less than last time. Again it’s all automatic decision notices without a piece of paper in plain English. They name 2son. Judging by the dates they have decided that he counts as an adult from his sixteenth birthday and I shouldn’t get housing benefit on his behalf. So that’s another £9,000 in overpayment bringing up my supposed debt to £25,000. Or thereabouts.
I think the consequences of not having child benefit for 2son are that the council don’t automatically consider him a student. They have been told, and his social worker has talked to them, that he is autistic. He is in receipt of DLA. He is at school on a residential placement. He’s still doing his GCSEs. In fact he got a B in his Combined Science IGCSE but that got overshadowed by the benefits envelope. He may now be an adult but he’s still a dependent. I provide him with a home for 52 weeks of the year even if he’s not here. So where the fuck do they get away with thinking they take him off. Maybe he should be claiming housing benefit for this address separately.
I had a little drink when I’d opened the post and then I had another one. I then tried to put it aside but quite frankly, this weekend and in fact the entire summer holiday is buggered. I can’t think of anything else. I am finding it difficult focusing on anything for very long. My speech goes to pot. There are times when I am just physically shaking. I am already role-playing conversations with a judge in my head. Housing Benefit may be restricted to collecting around £20 a week from me for the rest of my life but Council Tax will just take me to court.
I will phone up the CAB on Monday and ask for a face to face with the specialist. I will ask about legal representation. I will write another letter to the council asking for clear explanations and reasons. I will write yet another one to say I am appealing both these piles of paperwork and to ask whether there will be more. I will ask my councillors for more help.
But with all those practical steps I’m also wondering what the point is? If I earn enough to formally come off housing and council tax benefits then the council are simply going to ask for more money towards this overpayment. I consider the perils of being depressed and going down the too sick to work route but I don’t want to. At the moment I’m not yet depressed. I’m anxious, petrified, angry and so alone in this but I’m not depressed. Not yet anyway.
1son was here yesterday and I didn’t tell him. I had told 3son and 4son about the initial dispute but this now seems to much of a burden to share with them, however lightly. It’s not their problem.
Other than that I’m having a lovely summer.