Thinking of getting an illness, growing old or losing your job? Wondering if you can claim benefits?
Please read this unofficial government guide to being a benefit claimant first.
There is a right way and a wrong way to be a benefit claimant.
You should have one named illness at a time. We like to see a visible component to every illness. Try to choose an illness everyone has heard of.
Please wrap up one illness before starting another.
Unplanned illness, multiple illnesses or a condition where you have good days and bad days will not be tolerated.
If you have a mental health problem, we prefer this to be serious and consistent.
Under no circumstances combine an illness with losing your job or home.
Your physical and mental health should enable you to travel to appointments at the doctors, hospital and job centre, reliably and on time.
Please do not mix up physical and mental health. You can have EITHER a named mental health problem OR a named physical health problem, not both.
Your hearing and vision should be excellent, especially if you are applying for health or age related benefits.
Your memory should be near perfect. For example, you should know your doctor’s postcode and the year your partner was born. You need to be able to recall these facts quickly and consistently.
You should have a particular gift for filling in forms. Your handwriting should be neat and legible and your typing skills should be excellent.
If you are unable to memorize user IDs and passwords, store them carefully.
Gathering together documents is a crucial skill. It helps to set one room aside in your house to act as an admin hub for your claim.
Please keep your first name, surname and address short and pronounceable.
You must be online, especially if you are on a low-income.
You should be available between 7am and 9pm for appointments, visits and phone calls every day.
If you are unemployed or have a serious illness, do not go on holiday or celebrate life events. You can’t have it both ways.
You should be able to present your situation in perfect chronological order the first time around. Please don’t mumble, stutter or be nervous. Your voice on the phone should be clear, loud and confident. If you find yourself mumbling, open your mouth wider and speak more slowly.
Vulnerable people should be particularly clear and consistent in their communication.
You should have an email address, a landline phone and a mobile phone number. Make sure your mobile phone is charged and topped up with credit at all times.
You should be upbeat, confident and polite at all times. Building rapport with job centre staff is an advantage. Genuine emotions are not recognised.
The ability to concentrate for long periods, patience and resilience are important skills when navigating government websites, trying to get through on the phone and filling in forms.
A sense of humour is required when your session expires and you are logged out.
Religious faith can be helpful when you are cut off after waiting 45 minutes to get through on the phone.
Keep it Simple
If you insist on having more than one issue, split your issues into neat and discrete categories. This is particularly important if your life is in a complete mess.
Consistency is crucial. Keep changes in health, personal relationships, home address, telephone number, job or family to an absolute minimum.
Never try to help anyone else with a claim, a friend or family member for example. This is cheating.
If we could all try a bit harder please to be like this, everything would run a lot more smoothly.
If in doubt, ask yourself this question, “Am I easy to process?”. If the answer is “yes”, you are ready to be helped.
If the answer is “No”, take a long hard look at yourself.
The government is only able to deal with standard, processable and consistent humans. We train our staff to ignore, lose or punish everyone else.
Humanity has been cut.
So if you are non-standard and inconsistent, it’s tough. Shape up, or you’re on your own.