This is an update to my previous post, Disability, woo!
Miracle of miracles! I only spent about 40 minutes at the service centre, lodging my application. All in all, the actual process today took about 4 hours. It would have taken longer if I hadn’t been preparing and planning it over the last few weeks, though – I had all my supporting documents together, I had my psychiatrist’s letter, I even found my birth certificate because I had to prove my identity again (and because they don’t issue birth certificates for genderfluid, and only let you change to and from a binary identity, they think I’m female, although I marked both on the form because there wasn’t an ‘other’ option. Bureaucrats. Pfft.).
First step was to print out all the forms. The disability form itself is 52 pages. The accompanying income test form is 17 pages. The medical authority was 1 page. Then I had to attach a statement about how my condition makes it so I can’t work 15 hours per fortnight, put on a copy of my medical documentation, and print out a bank statement to show I’m not sitting on a secret lottery win stash. I had to put a new ink cartridge in my printer.
Then, I had to fill out everything but the medical authority by hand. The medical authority was an interactive PDF, so I could type everything in and print it. Miraculously, that was the only form that had all the letters around the right way and in the right order, since you know, my medical condition affects my ability to write. Then, the form said I could scan it and lodge it online, despite the website saying it had to be lodged in person. I tried to get into the website to scan it, because I really wasn’t looking forward to trotting along in person, and do you know what? I got an SSL error. And then another one, and then… so, I put it all together, went to the ATM to get a balance to prove that yes, what I printed out from online banking was correct, and I went to the service centre.
I got there at about ten minutes to 11 and the line was out the door. I sneaked in when it moved up, so I could be inside in the warm, and kept my headphones on because anxiety. When I reached the front, a third person came up to take people from the line, and she yanked my forms from my hand, tried to find my ID number, typed it in wrong because she couldn’t read it and wasn’t patient enough for me to sign the numbers to her. Luckily, I keep an old welfare card in my wallet for precisely this reason, and after she demanded all my identity documents, then shoved them back at me because someone had to code them, I was allowed to sit down. This was at 10:59am.
At 11:11am, someone called my name. I stood up to show I had heard and started looking for the person. She was behind me, on the other side of the room. If I hadn’t been listening for my name, I wouldn’t have known she was talking to me. But when she saw me looking, she moved so I could see her and waved, then pointed to her desk.
She also had trouble with my forms. “Do you write backwards, like in a mirror? Is that hard?” I signed that it was my brain and she was like “oh, is that how your brain works? Okay.” Then I was allowed to type to her on my phone. Because I had all the documents and attachments there, she said it would go through to the assessment team that day. They would need to see me, and they obviously can’t call me, so could they just send a letter with that appointment? Would I like to be considered for another payment while it’s being processed, so I still will have a little bit of money coming in? She even rang up to see if there was anything special they needed to do because I can’t talk.
And then, at 11:27am, I was sitting on the step outside, putting all my bits back together.
All done! And now to wait. The wait is a lot longer than I thought it would be – the general turnaround time for an application is 14 days, but when I sneaked on Facebook to report that the site was down (the CEO has an account and answers questions) I found a lot of people above me complaining about how long it was taking for their applications to be processed, with the only feedback being “it takes time”. So yes, I would like to be considered for a smaller payment in the meantime.
And then I did what my mum taught me, every time my dad lost a job and we had to apply for benefits… went to the supermarket and bought a ton of stuff that lasts a really long time, so that while they stuff around, at least I can eat. And that also eats up savings, so when they cross check to make sure I wasn’t lying about my balance, they will see I was not, and I will be assessed as having less. And also, food. And printer ink.
I don’t know how I did all that. I am going to bed now. I need a nap.