Its my hope that this thread will show up on google searches, and help people to not freak out as much as did when I received a letter from the DWP, inviting me to an interview.
(i should mention that i receive income support, and a disability premium, re: my m/h condition)
Last week a letter arrived from the DWP. Immediately, I was nervous because the envelope was posted first class. Something that you don't usually see from the dwp unless its urgent. I opened it, and immediately had to sit down. This is the content of the letter...
We are updating your details and need to see you to review the information we currently hold on your claim. There may have been changes that you have not yet told us about. It is important that you attend, if you do not it may affect your benefit.
To avoid unnecessary delay, please bring this letter with you and show it to reception immediately on your arrival. Please ask for xx xxxx
Please arrive promptly, as it will be difficult to fit in another appointment if you arrive late. If you cannot keep this appointment contact me immediately on the direct number above to arrange another time.
Things that I will need to see:
Proof of identification, such as:
Evidence to support your claim to benefit as follows:
(on my letter this section was left blank)
yours sincerely xx xxxx COMPLIANCE OFFICER
Such is the nature of my anxiety issues, that panic set in almost immediately. Some months ago I had a long and drawn out appeal process, i eventually won my case, after a glowing and frank report from on doctor and psychiatrist. So my initial thought was that this was something to do with that.
The next thing i did was get on-line and see exactly what a dwp "compliance officer" does. Almost every single page I read, had stories of benefit fraud, and people being "grassed up" by spiteful ex's, neighbours, and trouble makers. So my next train of thought turned to the "oh my god who have i pissed off enough to warrant them doing something so horrible?". That led to more anxiety, and I needed to take some medication. ..after calming down some hours later, i decided to call citizens advice, and find out what i could. They seemed pretty clueless, and just told me that the compliance officers deal with benefit fraud, and its likely that someone with a grudge has made a false allegation.
I decided to try and put a stop to all the worry, and i called the number on the letter. I said that i was freaking out, my illness is largely anxiety based, and i would like to know exactly what this is about before i have a stroke.
The lady on the phone spoke softly, and within about 15 seconds told me that at a pre-determined time, the computer picks out 100 names from each district, and its the job of the compliance officers to make sure that the people chosen are getting all they are entitled to, and are still in the same position, both medically and financially, as they were at this time last year.
She suggested that if I was worried, she could move the appointment to that day, as she had a cancellation and as anxiety is clearly central to my illness, it would be best to get it over with.
I agreed. So that afternoon I turned up heavily medicated,I showed her my driving licence to confirm my identity, signed a piece of paper, and was in and out in less than 10 minutes. She apologised for the non-descript nature of the letter, and for the effect that the whole event had clearly had on me.
I returned home, and promptly passed out. Partly due to the accumulation of stress, and partly due to the massive amount of medication I'd taken. I slept all afternoon, i felt very foolish about it all.
The moral of the story? Not everyone at the dwp is an incompitent fool, and although I am by no means completely turned around on my thoughts about dwp staff, (my collective experiences with them are largely negative), my faith in the system has been restored somewhat.
Not sure why I typed all that really. Took ages on a mobile phone, lol, but hopefully someone will find it useful.