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Melissa Davies

Investigated for fraud by DWP

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Hi I hope someone can help. I was interviewed under caution by DWP last month. A little background. I have been in receipt of DLA for over 10 years, I have it for life and Incapacity Benefit for the same time. I have a degenerative condition that affects by my knees, hips and legs. I was reported for working over a year ago, I was working 2-3 hours a week, under permitted work rules as recommended by my Therapist, to help with my Mental Health. My therapist also refered me to a pain clinic. During a discussion with the pain specialist he asked what I missed most, I said walking. He advised that I should try to increase the amount I walk to strengthen my muscles and help with my all round mobility and well being. I spoke to a friend and she agreed to walk with me so if i got in difficulty I wasn't alone. I started walking my son to school with my friend. To a normal person this is a 10 min walk, to me this takes 20+ mins and about 2 hours to recover (I also get up at 6am so my pain killers have taken before I leave). My well being/depression improved, I lost a little weight and generally felt a sense of achievement every time i did this. My son also benefited from a healthier start to the day. I would lean on my daughters pram or use elbow crutches for support. Occasionally I wouldn't use any walking aids.

 

During my interview the investigator showed me images of myself and my friend walking to school, sometimes with my pram, crutch or nothing. they state that even though I have a crutch I just carry it and that I cant use the pram for support as sometimes i'm pushing it with 1 hand while laughing on the phone! They have photos of me doing jet-washing on the front drive and taking my friends (who had just had a disk replaced in her neck) shopping. Everything they have says I'm a fraud and do not have any problems. In the summer I attended the Pain Management Program In The Walton Center which is all about help you improve your life if you live in chronic pain. I take Tramadol and Codeine every 4 hours as well as other medication. I am also now on Liquid Morphine for pain relief. I have just spent 2 nights in Hospital for bed rest and pain relief.

 

Last night one of my neighbour told me that 20 investigators had come into the road on mass and visited all of my neighbours asking them to make statements about me, what they'd seen me doing, walking etc They had told all my neighbour what I was being investigated for and everything. As you can imagine I am currently devastated and want to move. I am a private person and when I'm bad I don't go out, I always wear sunglasses to hide my eyes because I hate anyone seeing me in pain. Out of about 15 neigbours maybe only 4 of them have ever seen me bad because I don't show my pain, its a defense thing.

 

My question really is are the investigators allowed to tell all my neighbours my business and as I have a feeling this will go to court does anyone know any solicitors who specialize in this?

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Hello and welcome to CAG.

 

I'll move your thread to the benefits forum and leave you a short term link from here. I expect the guys will have some thoughts for you.

 

For legal advice, you could try via the CAB who usually have local contacts who specialise in this type of case.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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What level of DLA do you receive, Melissa?


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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How far were you walking when you went out and how often did you/do you go out?


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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My son is currently going through a similar situation but, he was interviewed much earlier this year they suspended his money then took the car back then he was told he has to pay them £8000 back. We are fighting this every step of the way as he is genuinely ill and you should do the same, he has doctors fighting for him and the local mp plus he has to £125 per hour to a solicitor. The only thing I find not right about this what your neighbour has said as I cant see fraud officers landing in force and they would not discuss your business with your neighbours as I would think this would be more trouble for them as its private data. This is only my opinion but, I would be straight to a solicitor and drag them through the court if this turned out to be fact.

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I don't know the actual distance but it take me over twice as long as a 'normal' person to walk. In the DLA handbook it sates that the distance walked is to be disregarded if walked in pain and a period of recovery is required. I go some mornings and am usually 55 mins out in total and the same at home time(not constantly walking, usually a 10min rest at school). I don't do it daily and sometimes it can be weeks between me doing it. I even get over taken by OAP's. Another reason I try to walk (apart from mental & physical health)It takes around 15 mins to drive to school and its through 3 sets of traffic lights and lots of rush hour traffic, parking at school is a nightmare so you end up parking 7 mins walk away. The toll taken on my knees with the constant stop, start in traffic and the climate change in & out of the warm house/cold outside/warm car/cold outside/warm house/cold outside/warm house..........means I increase my pain level regardless of walking or driving. With walking I get a sense of achievement and feel i'm being a more positive role model to my 5 year old, its can also be paced where as in the car I have to drive with the traffic if you know what I mean. Sorry went on a bit then.

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My husband and father in law saw all the investigators arrive. I have spoken to a solicitor since I posted this and he says they use the 'were getting witness statements' as a reason to discuss my business with the neighbours and that's how they get around data protection. The solicitor advised I get names, address & letter from all the people who are willing to support me re the fact I walk very slowly and clearly in pain. These aren't just friends they are people I just smile at on the school playground. I am considering contacting my MP, do you think your has helped. My Dr has said they will provide whatever is required. I have recently completed a Pain Management Program run by the NHS for people living in Constant Pain to give them a better quality of life and I have just started taking Morphine as a pain killer. I'm so dumbfounded by these investigators and there opinion of what someone living in chronic pain is capable off without being a fraud.

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My son has been to hell and back over the las few months and its not over, his gp has written several letters to the DWP as have his specialists the MP has taken his case on and he has a specialist solicitor but they are still saying he is not suffering any longer with pain. We have had to get him another car to get to work otherwise he would have had to give up work and then they would have had to give him other benefits which I am sure they would not be too happy about. They still may decide to try and prosecute my son yet according to the solicitor but we will fight this every step of the way

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In the DLA handbook it sates that the distance walked is to be disregarded if walked in pain and a period of recovery is required.

 

Yes. If you do the activity in pain, can't repeat it and /or need recovery, it's to be disregarded. The DWP accept (they actually wrote this on my award letter) that many of us have variable conditions and have good (/better) and bad days.

 

You could argue that photos don't mean a lot. They don't show the pain, speed, etc. when walking. If you walk using crutches, then I believe that any amount of walking is ignored; as you're having to walk aided.

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I have to say I'm disgusted at this type of witch hunt of those people who have enough on their plates with health problems without all this.

 

I mean dear god have the powers that be got nothing better to do then hound the disabled?

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Yes. If you do the activity in pain, can't repeat it and /or need recovery, it's to be disregarded. The DWP accept (they actually wrote this on my award letter) that many of us have variable conditions and have good (/better) and bad days.

 

You could argue that photos don't mean a lot. They don't show the pain, speed, etc. when walking. If you walk using crutches, then I believe that any amount of walking is ignored; as you're having to walk aided.

 

It can gan be a bit murky I'm afraid. The 'if cannot be repeated' can be applied - but a decision maker can decide that after 10 minute rest at the school, the walk is repeated. And it's not that any time walking in severe pain is to be disregarded - the pain has to be sufficient to make you stop walking for DLA purposes. (ESA activities are slightly different). The question that is really important is how often this walk happens - and saying 'some mornings', or 'sometimes not for weeks' isn't exact enough to support your case. To win at an appeal - which is what is needed here, it needs to be shown that the walk in question was only on 'good days' and that these are the minority of the time. It needs to be established how far can be walked before needing to stop (and a long rest) on an average and on a bad day and how often these occur. So for instance how many good days, average days and bad days a week. Also the issue of speed can be covered - but in order to do this it needs to be established exactly how far the walk is and how long it takes - maybe drive the walk and measure on the milometer how far it is. However slow you walk, if you walk a mile in twice the time it takes a normal person, and you do this 3-4 mornings a week, you won't win the appeal.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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They had Video but showed me stills they'd taken from the Videos. I now wish I'd seen the videos because looking back at the interview more clearly (I was almost hysterical & having a panic attack) some of the pictures I know were show just because I was smiling and as we all know you can't smile if your in pain. I always wear sunglasses as I don't like people seeing pain in my eyes as that usually follows 'what wrong' 'how are you' 'you having a bad day' 'you been doing too much' etc In one collection of pictures you don't see my face clearly and the reason is because I was in total agony and almost in tears in a shop buying my daughter a drink. Another of me jet-washing doesn't show that I was so confused I couldn't operate the 2 button machine and my neighbour brought hers round for me to use (I was in a very depressed mood that day & extremely agitated so had to keep busy to stop myself doing myself an injury). The videos would be far more in my favour than the investigators if they allowed me to see them but they won't. They had me in interview for 4 hours.

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When you go to appeal they will have to show the videos there as your solicitor will want all the proof shown that they have so it will show there how you really cope

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They had Video but showed me stills they'd taken from the Videos. I now wish I'd seen the videos because looking back at the interview more clearly (I was almost hysterical & having a panic attack) some of the pictures I know were show just because I was smiling and as we all know you can't smile if your in pain. I always wear sunglasses as I don't like people seeing pain in my eyes as that usually follows 'what wrong' 'how are you' 'you having a bad day' 'you been doing too much' etc In one collection of pictures you don't see my face clearly and the reason is because I was in total agony and almost in tears in a shop buying my daughter a drink. Another of me jet-washing doesn't show that I was so confused I couldn't operate the 2 button machine and my neighbour brought hers round for me to use (I was in a very depressed mood that day & extremely agitated so had to keep busy to stop myself doing myself an injury). The videos would be far more in my favour than the investigators if they allowed me to see them but they won't. They had me in interview for 4 hours.

 

It is really hard, things can get taken out of context. I'm on HRM and once a couple of years ago walked to the chemist and back 150 metres from my house. Now someone seeing this would have questioned whether I was disabled (though I was constantly stopping and cryed all the back). But what they wouldn't know was that my husband was sick and needed medicine, and couldn't get it himself, so I had no choice, and could barely walk at all, for two weeks afterwards. So I understand that people don't understand what's going on inside.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Good, I have asked and was told I'd only get to see anything if it goes to court. Can I also ask, I saw 1 name on the paperwork the investigator was looking through when he was telling me the date I was reported. Do you know if I'll ever be able to see that again so I can see why that persons name there? They won't tell me.

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You will never be told who reported you even if it goes to court. The name on the paper would not have been the person who reported you it was probably something else as they are very careful to keep things from you, they do not let you know who gives them info

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Good, I have asked and was told I'd only get to see anything if it goes to court. Can I also ask, I saw 1 name on the paperwork the investigator was looking through when he was telling me the date I was reported. Do you know if I'll ever be able to see that again so I can see why that persons name there? They won't tell me.

 

Appeal the decision - if you win the appeal, no court as you're guilty of nothing.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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My son is in the process of appealing but the solicitors have warned us a summons could still turn up so dont think that if you appeal they will not try and prosecute

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We waited a few months for the decision to be made but they had already taken the car back by then (they do this very quickly) and you really need to seek leagal advice now. Do not wait till you hear from them as your solicitor needs to prepare things and you need to get letters from your gp and hospital doctors etc. if you dont then you will lose

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