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This is life on a benefit for ill and disabled people

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 am, August 16th, 2017 - 68 comments
Categories: benefits, poverty, welfare - Tags: , , , , , ,

Tui Tapanui is a mother and grandmother living with chronic illness. She has a background in social research and recently wrote a twitter thread about the level of poverty many disabled people in NZ are living in. This post is from that thread, the full Storify is here including subthreads on Accommodation Supplement, complaints, justice, and responses to the story. 

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I once was a social scientist evaluating the benefits system. Now I live on a benefit. I was also a health board researcher/service planner. Now I’m ill/disabled. I’ve suffered iatrogenic harms + decades of medical neglect.

NZ is failing to adequately support the 84,331 disabled New Zealanders who are on WINZ’s Supported Living Payment. I did some rough calcs & graphs to show the grinding level of poverty these 84,331 disabled people are forced to live with LONG-TERM.

Eg this graph shows the situation over the past five years, with dollar figures attached (PDF)

So the red blocks are what my gross taxable income looks like. When you take off the tax it’s just $265.54pw! Could YOU live on that?

And yes we can apply for “supplements” – accommodation supplement, disability allowance, temporary additional support. BUT the application process is too hard, and WINZ sets fiery hoops that are far too high for many sick/disabled people to jump through!

So disabled people end up stuck on Jobseeker’s Allowance for endless years ‘cos they can’t jump high enough for Supported Living Payment.

Disabled people are losing their houses because accommodation supplement is insufficient and they can’t afford housing costs/maintenance.

Budget announced accommodation supplement will go up in 2018 – but IMO its too little, far too late. There are 4 sets of Areas for AS, but there are inequities within each area Eg below are all in “Area 3”, max AS $65pw

And disabled people are not getting adequate Disability Allowances because the application process is so hard and max. amount too low. Plus you need access to money in the 1st place to buy what you need, so you can supply WINZ with receipts. So many can’t even get started.

Temporary Additional Support is “temporary” – even for those whose diseases & disabilities are permanent.

So what we need is PERMANENT Additional Support! A basic guaranteed income, like NZ Superannuation, that we are ENTITLED to DEPEND upon! Because WINZ’s rules, demands, threats & bullying are making lots of us SICKER.

Stressing us makes it LESS likely we will ever recover! And having to live on long-term poverty diets makes us sicker too. So if you want us off WINZ benefits then PLEASE HELP US to get well!

So how do we define what is sufficient or insufficient income? @DrJessBerentson has given a good definition here

Now let’s run the same comparisons as far back as WINZ benefit levels are available online (PDF)

Can you see (↑) what has NOT been happening to the disabled people’s base benefit levels in relation to other incomes? And by the way it doesn’t matter if it was National or Labour in power – it’s the same sh*t via different governments for past 17 years!

I couldn’t find data for median incomes, so used median wage/salary to find the approx location of poverty line (PDF)

Here you can see how disabled people’s base benefits have hardly moved in real dollar terms over a 17 year timespan. It’s NOT good enough!

And here’s a comparison of the base benefit for disabled people, as a percentage of other forms of income (PDF)

So our base benefit is nothing like 60% of median income, it’s nearer 34%. And it’s only 51% of the approx min wage & 66% of the pension

How are we expected to even survive – let alone live normal lives, thrive and participate in our communities as we are entitled to do? Why are these desperately deficient incomes not being challenged, when our govt is subjecting disabled people to such cruel treatment? Unlike sole parents & unemployed people, many disabled have no hope of getting off the benefit because our circumstances won’t change.

Unless your illness is terminal – then you can exit the benefit system in a cardboard box (‘cos a coffin will be unaffordable!). If your family is also poor, then the max funeral grant they’ll get is an insulting $2,030.91 (vs. an avg funeral cost of $8k-$10k). Don’t expect a dignified send-off if you’re a beneficiary. (If WINZ had its way, it would hire a wheelie bin & send you to the tip!)

So, dear politicians, here’s the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. You should read it sometime. NZ signed the CRPD in 2006, and it came into force in 2008. Ironically MSD, which is in charge of WINZ, is responsible for ensuring CRPD is implemented in NZ. I wonder if they’ve even read it yet?

I could go on for hours about all the ways WINZ apparently flouts the CRPD, the Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the Human Rights Act 1993.

I know people who’ve been left homeless, carless, and totally isolated. To survive some have moved to cheap areas without family support. I lost my own beautiful near-new home when I landed on the benefit, ‘cos my sickness benefit + disability allowance was just $223pw! My housing costs were way less than market rentals, but I still had to sell to prevent a default on my modest mortgage.

Instead of being helped and supported when I was desperately ill, I was put through health-destroying stress & left homeless for 4 mths.

Many of us are very sick and/or severely disabled – housebound or bedbound – yet we are still denied in-home services

We get batted back & forth between a broken welfare system & a broken health system – neither wants to pay, so they play pass the buck.

When we go to WINZ to beg for help we must join queues we are too sick to be in – elderly can sit in own waiting area, disabled must stand.

I’ve tried to arrange ability to email forms in, rather than stand in queues & end up bedridden for days after. WINZ refuses to help. And if you try posting your forms instead, 9 times out of 10 they “lose” them, so your income gets cut off!

If I was well enough I’d lodge a complaint with the United Nations under the Optional Protocol of the CRPD. But I’m too sick to do it.

So I’m calling on all current & aspiring NZ politicians, from all political parties, to do the decent thing & sort this sh*t out please! Or perhaps there are some kind human rights lawyers out there who could take this on pro-bono? (This thread is just the tip of iceberg).

I now challenge ALL New Zealand politicians, from all political parties to do the right thing by our sick, disabled, vulnerable and poor.

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68 comments on “This is life on a benefit for ill and disabled people ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    I am sorry to hear about the inhumane, socially- & politically-induced difficulties you’ve had to endure.

    Thank you for a clear and well explained post. This situation is damning and needs urgent attention by any incoming government at the end of the year.

    In the first instance, immediately, shouldn’t the ministry be able to issue a directive to have disabled people to be treated more humanely by WINZ? e.g. some of the same provisions as the elderly such as seating areas, rather than being made to stand in queues? And to be allowed to post in submissions rather than need to attend personally?

  2. AsleepWhileWalking 2

    Re: The loss of your house. Fuck that makes me angry. You aren’t even the only one who has had this happen…not by a long shot. They would have failed to inform you at the time of what you were entitled to and this in turn forced the sale.

    Have they even bothered to point out that you might be entitled to arrears?

    Thank you for using what limited energy you have to bring these issues to attention <3

  3. Tony Veitch (not etc) 3

    There have been quite a number of times over the last 30 odd year when I’ve been ashamed to be a NZer, and this is another of them.

    You can judge a society by how well it cares for its most vulnerable – and we fall lamentably short of even the minimum.

    Lets vote these neoliberal uncaring pricks out in September – and by that I may mean a number standing for Labour!

  4. Rosemary McDonald 4

    1. Onya Tui for doing the work on this.

    2. Putting the actual numbers out there will make this issue more real to those not directly affected.

    3. If you’re interested in some reading and discussion about the ideologies and cultural history around how we humans have treated the less than perfect, wander over to Public Address and trawl the Access Archive. Especially Hillary Stace’s articles on the history of disability in Godzone.

    4. Anyone else hear the cattle cars clanking into the sidings?

    https://www.factretriever.com/holocaust-facts

    “At the entrance to each death camp, there was a process of Selektion or Selection. Pregnant women, small children, the sick or handicapped, and the elderly were immediately condemned to death.”

    5. Fuck Godwin.

    🙂 🙂

  5. DH 5

    The rental graph there tells a story. The CPI has rent inflation from June 2006 to March 2017 at 26%. That may be correct as a nationwide average however the graph above illustrates what has happened to rents in the lower income areas. They look to have gone up by around 50%.

    Even a basic guaranteed income won’t be a solution while inflation for the poor is higher than the average. They’d need to index the income against real housing costs or, preferably, put an end to the housing rort once and for all.

    • millsy 5.1

      Probably why I dont think simply increasing benefits isnt really going to make any difference. If benefits were put up to $1000 a week overnight, the joy is going to be very short lived when their landlords put their rent up to $800-900,

      • weka 5.1.1

        that doesn’t stop governments raising the minimum wage.

        • Siobhan 5.1.1.1

          Last minimum wage rise…matched exactly by rent rises, atleast for here in the Hawkes Bay.

          We need a radical rethink about rental options, especially for ‘life time’ renters.

          • weka 5.1.1.1.1

            Yeah but no-one is suggesting don’t raise the minimum wage because of that.

            Lots of ways to solve the rent issue, but let’s not start the conversation with don’t raise benefits because it feeds the rentier class.

            • DH 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “but let’s not start the conversation with don’t raise benefits because it feeds the rentier class.’

              Maybe it needs to be started weka. Avoiding it won’t change things. Let’s face it, a $50 week decrease in rent is better for a beneficiary than a $50 increase in their benefit.

              • KJT

                That is yet another argument for state housing.

              • weka

                Are you seriously suggesting that benefits shouldn’t be raised?

                How on earth are you going to reduce rents by $50?

                • DH

                  “Are you seriously suggesting that benefits shouldn’t be raised?”

                  Of course not. Alleviating housing costs can’t be done overnight and their needs are urgent so naturally there’s a need to increase benefits in the interim.

                  “How on earth are you going to reduce rents by $50?”

                  The obvious one is to build so many new houses there’s an oversupply of rentals. The private sector isn’t suicidal so they won’t build them, needs the Govt to do it.

                  • weka

                    Great. So my comments in this subthread are saying please don’t start a conversation about rent/housing costs by say saying we shouldn’t raise benefits.

                  • greywarshark

                    DH
                    Don’t bother telling us what we already know – that we need a bunch of new houses that private won’t build and the state is needed to act in this in an intelligent way. And that more houses should bring prices down, (if not artificially stimulated by continued high immigration). And something you miss mentioning is that the prices can’t go down using the market model because the housing mass needed can’t be provided soon enough to really impact on the need, certainly not in oversupply levels.

                    But we can start can’t we. And look to Keith Hay, an old NZ firm that may still be going for some, and import flat prebuilts done to proper design with no flaky labels as to standards, so don’t go for the cheapest. That’s what we need. I’m surprised, you being so wise, that you didn’t mention this.

                    • DH

                      I was only mentioning one obvious option greywarshark, if people really want something they can think up plenty more ways to get it.

                      My personal preference is for a Govt that goes straight to the heart of the property rort. Land. You can build a new house in any main NZ city for well under $300k if you don’t have to buy the land (and land improvements) CPI inflation aside it’s not ‘houses’ that go up in price. It’s the land they sit on.

                      State houses are too vulnerable to the looters. Any new Govt can sell them off… they’re very hard to protect.

                      If a Govt was to buy up land for housing & then lease it to needy people to build their own house on you’d effectively protect the land from looting in the lease agreement. Lease it for $1 per year and covenant it so if the owner sells they can’t take any capital gain.

                      Where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ve never seen the will from any main political party.

                    • greywarshark

                      DH
                      I like your idea. Sweat equity sort of thing. I have been talking to a Habitat builder and he says that most of those people getting houses aren’t able to do much. But a proper organised team with training for future house lessees would gain a huge groundswell of support and leave people with new skills, a home for their security and life and a sense of achievement. Cheers and double cheers for that sort of result.

                      Keep at it DH. At the moment in Nelson we are working on a CoHousing plan based on successful others in NZ and trying to design a good structure and I hope it will be good enough for others to adopt and follow. We have a way to go yet, but are trying to gather our wits and make a planned, intelligent, future thinking program. There are many things to consider!

                    • DH

                      Don’t get me started greywarshark 😉

                      It’s perhaps for a different thread but I do agree wholeheartedly on the idea of training up more people to build houses.

                      I’d like to see many of the unemployed (with priority to the youngsters) recruited into roving teams of building & construction contractors who can relocate to wherever the State-contracted work is. Provide them with all the necessary transport, accommodation , training etc and they’d quickly progress to making their own way in the world. Not easy to organise something like that but then what ever is easy.

                    • greywarshark

                      DH
                      I’m so in agreement with you. It’s not easy at the first but once a pilot had been done, the sharp bits rubbed down until it was running well, allowing for redundancies, it could be repeated endlessly.

                      At present the old and young fogies are incapable of doing anything new for the first time, So nothing of any benefit to ‘the people’ is carried out, while all sort of deviously good ideas for advancing the ambitious in business can be done.

        • DoublePlusGood 5.1.1.2

          It also doesn’t stop governments introducing rent controls.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 5.1.1.2.1

            Exactly – that is what is needed.

          • Eco maori 5.1.1.2.2

            All new houses should be designed with a passive solar designs .this will have to start at the road design so every house get good sun in the winter and shade in the summer just a bit of planing by local councils an it would not cost any more and the heating bills/ cooling bill would come down now we don’t have to make complicated about the design.After all it is how we built house before.
            But National won’t go for that because they want us to
            Keep paying high power bills for gov dividends.I am still pissed at the government using clean air act to get rid of fires the lower class people suffering the most people with brains put new fire in there houses
            One can not go into the local forest and get free electricity when you got no money or power

            • Eco maori 5.1.1.2.2.1

              Now don’t think that I have been in a situation like I described in my last blog but I have seen others with no heating etc

            • Eco maori 5.1.1.2.2.2

              I get upset when the media talk about raising retirement age to 67 when a lot of elderly people are struggling to get buy .I no the elderly get more than other people on a benefit but $370 doesn’t cover all of there expenses.
              And when a elderly person applies for jobs they are discrimernated against because of there age the hourly rate is low because of foreign labour we need to provide effectively for all our vulnerable people. Not spend money on professional staff instructed to deny needy people the help they need.
              I no of a elderly man trying to get a hearing aid his hearing was damaged by his job he worked at for 40 years acc got a specialist doctor to deny him his claim.

      • DH 5.1.2

        Agree there millsy. For low income people it’s nearly always been about housing, and since they suffer inflation more than the rest they’ve been slowly and inexorably ground down.

        I doubt I’ll ever see the day but maybe sometime they’ll be honest about it. Politicians won’t reduce real housing costs for the low income earners because they know it will bring down property values. It’s more convenient to throw the poor a few crumbs every now and then.

      • Mamma bear 5.1.3

        Luckily there are some renting privately & this wouldn’t happen. My rent goes up along with all the owner’s other tenants & not because of pay rises. Increases would happen if one was in a HNZ home as these are means tested. Raising benefits WILL make huge differences, for most of her s who are on SLP.

  6. Kay 6

    Please get this out to EVERYONE. I don’t do the social media thing, I know others here do. Finally the situation of permanently and severely disabled NZers is being spoken about and it has to get as mainstream as possible. Let everyone who have never had any reason to know how it is and how much we have to survive (or not) on know. Any chance Checkpoint will pick this up? JC for the most seems the most user friendly re mainstream media.

  7. millsy 7

    You mentioned TAS in your post.

    When the Special Benefit was abolished and TAS put in its place, David Benson-Pope (remember him?) said that those who lost the Special Benefit would be able to access support from other agencies. He never really said who these agencies were or what form that support would take.

    • weka 7.1

      wow, I didn’t know that.

      This is why I argue strongly against a UBI model that has disabled people’s income from supplementary benefits replaced by alleged services in Health. It’s a really bad idea.

    • adam 7.2

      I remember millsy, but be careful. At any moment some labour party hack will swoop in and have a go at you for daring to bring this up and undermining them.

      The lesser of two evils, looks evil to me no matter how much they shine it.

    • lprent 7.3

      Just did a rather long (for me) google search because I was interested in the claim. Couldn’t find anything to support it, and I did a quick scan through a large chunk of the Hansard debates. Perhaps you could find a link?

      But since that statement must have been before April 2006 which is when I think that the SB went out and the TAS went in. That makes it at least 11 years ago.

      Personally I think that you’d be far better off arguing why something like the SB should be introduced. It is literally ancient history politically. However the TAS from the examples here looks like a complete inefficient exercise in efficiency. Based on my back of a page calculations, I’d expect that the processing cost of getting one would massively exceed the actual benefit paid once you added in all of the costs from WINZ, the person getting the benefit and providing the support materials to get one. Which is just dumb and very expensive persecution.

      And adam – you are being a complete idiot. Preemptively call me a labour hack again and I may take offense, call you a stupid bigot against labour supporters and just donate you a preemptive LONG holiday from the site. I was thinking about 3 years would be enough for you to start considering people to be people rather than whatever dumbarse illiterate and stupid label you want to attach to them.

      To me that kind of behaviour just makes you another idiot bigot. No different from those race based fuckwits in Charlotteville

      • weka 7.3.1

        Issues with TAS. It’s a hardship grant so you can only get it if you have no assets and an urgent financial need that can’t be met any other way. But it only
        pays a % of what you need so you have to make up most of the cost from the base benefit. Which is set too low and not keeping up with the cost of living esp housing. TAS is meant to be reviewed every 3 months and at that point you are supposed to prove to WINZ what you have done to reduce your need for TAS. In other words technically the govt expects long term disabled people who can’t work to not need TAS and instead live on the base benefit plus disability allowance and accommodation supplement.

        In reality long term beneficiaries either find someone at WINZ who will keep rolling over TAS, or they do shit like sell their house and settle into permanent and serious poverty.

        Removing Special Benefit was one of the worst things Clark’s govt did and is a big part of why disabled beneficiaries are now basically fucked unless they have family help or got lucky with the right staff.

        • lprent 7.3.1.1

          Removing Special Benefit was one of the worst things Clark’s govt did and is a big part of why disabled beneficiaries are now basically fucked unless they have family or got lucky with the right staff.

          I agree with that – for permanent beneficiaries.

          But looking at the Hansard, that wasn’t the issue. It looked like SB was being given to people in work or transitioning via benefits to work. That caused issues for Working For Families. Increasing the income with a longer term SB massively reduced the effect of the WFF. It also increased the overhead processing costs at the IRD (not an inconsiderably cost then and now) and the overall complexity of WFF.

          While the TAS causes the same issues for anyone going in and out of work, it also reduces the time that people are likely to be on it and therefore all of the downstream issues.

          To me it looks like removing the SB wasn’t targeted at permanent beneficiaries. It was removed as being an impediment to WFF.

          I suspect that the best political course of action is to get people on the invalids and disabilities who can’t work on to higher permanent benefit on a similar basis as superannuation. Wasting government resources trying to get people who can’t get work into work (especially when there are few if any upskill programs worth mentioning) provides a costly process and politically sensitive issue to the government and a perverse torture of victims (ie the political sensitivity).

          Basically it’d be easiest and most efficient to make a political argument that it should be a separate benefit done on a similar basis to superannuation. Going on about the SB or TAS is what you have to do in the current system. But I suspect arguing for a simple review of the types of benefits provided based on the unfortunate side consequences of the WFF emphasizing the savings in the costs of government would work better.

          • jcuknz 7.3.1.1.1

            I think you on on the ball there Lprent as even on Super Winz spent/wasted resources asking me if I was living alone which was hard for me to prove with a couple of stores on one side and rental places the other.
            I know few and none in the immediate area who could back my statement of living alone. Thankfully they have stopped asking for this return in recent years.
            So giving the permanent disabled something like Super would save a lot of Admin money and perhaps make up for the additional cost in the actual benefit..
            I guess I am naive to think this.
            Sad but true ….I lived on very little in my earlier days but it improved with age …. but to be condemned to poverty for the rest of one’s life … horrible/unjust.

        • lprent 7.3.1.2

          Incidentally, we need to do more of this type of post. Both before the election, but especially afterwards.

          While I’ve been happy to pay some pretty high taxes – just over 38% counting the PAYE, GST, rates, and remaining sales taxes. In fact the only reason it isn’t higher is because the money that I pay the bank for mortgages isn’t taxed.

          But to me it looks like the efficiency in delivering those taxes to the people who need them is steadily diminishing rather than improving. That I’m very irritated about.

          • jcuknz 7.3.1.2.1

            Whoever comes to power on 9/23 needs to examin the efficiency by which tax serves those in need and question the existing system which obviously is deficient and wasting resources.

        • tracey 7.3.1.3

          Pretty sure Ruth Dyson presided over the brainwave to retest sickness beneficiaries every year. Accordingly families like ours were put through an annual review to see if a miracle cure for CP had happened in the prior 12 months without us knowing.

  8. McFlock 8

    A very sobering and thought-provoking post.

  9. Paaparakauta 9

    Dear Tui,

    I would like to thank you on both a personal and a professional level for your article.

    If I can add anything it is this .. you are not the only one in this situation.

    Regards,

    Paaparakauta.

  10. Augustus 10

    With 2 disabled people in the family, I know to well what you are talking about. We are in the category that has chosen permanent hardship over having to deal with WINZ. In the end, your dignity is all you have left and they will go out of their way to destroy that, too. They won’t be happy until we won’t be able to borrow any more money against our old, cold house. They won’t pay accommodation supplement for money borrowed against the house to live on either.
    I have contacted relevant politicians many times and am afraid to say that few have given me the impression that they are willing to promote change. We’ve been offered the publicity treatment, or advocacy to access (insufficient) entitlements, but we don’t want to be scapegoats or somehow different than everybody else. Changing the system is not on offer, other than by the Greens. Haven’t heard anyone proposing to get rid of “designated doctors” who contradict your own long-term GP either.

    • Treetop 10.1

      The appeal rights for a person who is refused a Supported Living Payment is different to those on any other benefit. A panel of three doctors has the final say. I think the doctors are appointed by Work and Income; there is bias in this.

      Staff at Work and Income cannot comment on health matters. When it comes to disability allowance the GP states the item and the client needs to verify the cost.

      • Patricia 10.1.1

        I recently took a client to WINZ to find out why they had cut her disability allowance. The case worker rang an office (based in Waikato ?) and they queried every medical cost. Suggested cheaper options for expensive medication ; queried why she used taxis twice a week and said she should do all her shopping / physio etc on one day and that would save a taxi fare. We are still battling to get the dearer medication accepted even though the GP told WINZ that the cheaper stuff had disastrous side effects.

        • Treetop 10.1.1.1

          “The case worker rang an office (based in Waikato?) and they queried every medical cost.”

          I would be interested to know if the person who queried every medical cost had been to medical school.

    • lprent 10.2

      “designated doctors” sounds like a scam that requires a good solid audit about every 6 months by the medical profession and the financial auditors.

    • Takahē 10.3

      I was knocked off sickness benefit by a WINZ designated doctor on the basis of a single short once-off consultation while my regular doctor was away on vacation, despite permanent neurological disability.

      He literally yelled at me “there is nothing wrong with you!” repeatedly.

      When I pointed out the potential consequences of his actions in terms of the impact they would have on my welfare and suggested he was acting with a conflict of interest, he turned to the computer and wrote something in my medical record.

      I was looking over his shoulder. He wrote “probably has Borderline Personality Disorder”.

      Unfounded allegations, malicious, incompetent and dishonest.

      When I mentioned it at the local WINZ office, they said, “Oh no, he is a wonderful doctor!”

  11. Treetop 11

    People aged 60 years or over with chronic health on the Supported Living Payment are not likely to be on NZ Super as long as someone who does not have Chronic health. I would like to see a rate between Supported Living and NZ Super for people aged 60 or over.

    There are also issues of the Job Seekers benefit being survival money.

    My chronological age is one thing, how old my body feels is another. This is my definition of being eligible for the NZ Super.

    • lprent 11.1

      Arbitrary ages is a problem.

      I’m 58 now. I have a stent after a near death myocardial infraction. I have a big toe that got cut badly when I was a teen that has no padding left and grates in pain whenever I walk any distances. Some of my tendons in my upper arms are complaining a lot when I reach behind me (and when I get zapped with static electricity from overly insulating shoes).

      But I’m a computer programmer. So provided the RSSI from my 30s doesn’t come back (I now don’t touch type and get over the top HIDs), my neck keeps getting expensive screens and chairs, I can purchase optics that compensate for changing old eyesight, and I keep having fun then I’m probably looking at 70 before I think about stopping the fun at work. I don’t see any signs that anyone wants me gone and the recruiters still call.

      Then when I’ll just drop to a lower pace of work. Monetise some of my skills sets across a few areas that work hasn’t given me much opportunity to explore. I’ll probably drop dead abruptly rather than slow down much.

      My parents are now 78. But they really couldn’t have gone much past 60 odd because everything that they did in live was so much harder. Knee replacements, shoulder tendons getting worn out in their late 50s, interesting heart nerve issues, etc etc. Basically all of the issue for kids starting in the 1930s and 40s rather than the 1960s and then having a much more physical work life. Or for people who spend their life in hard physical labour from their teens.

      I’m afraid that I don’t have much sympathy for the health freaks who wore their bodies out for endorphins 🙁 But I guess we have to just live with them…

      • Treetop 11.1.1

        You dodged a bullet when you had a myocardial infarction.

        Chronic health conditions do not usually get better with time, a person can improve their management through medication, nutrition, staying occupied and appropriate exercise and avoiding self inflicting substances.

        I find that fatigue due to a chronic condition is harder to manage than pain.

  12. One Anonymous Bloke 12

    If I was well enough I’d lodge a complaint with the United Nations under the Optional Protocol of the CRPD.

    If someone were to do that on your behalf, what barriers would they face? Reading the Optional Protocol, it looks like establishing that all “available domestic remedies” have been exhausted would be difficult without access to your and others’ records.

    If any MPs are reading it sounds very much like your job to see that this happens. National’s human rights abuses (Labour’s too for that matter) will continue until there are consequences: personal responsibility isn’t in their DNA.

  13. UncookedSelachimorpha 13

    Superb post with excellent data.

    The data tells a shameful story of how NZ treats many people.

    “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member”

  14. Michael 14

    All too true and the product of the neoliberal narrative, embraced by “Labour” just as fervently as the Nats, that people who cannot sustain paid employment are criminal bludgers. The only party with credible plans to reform our welfare system and make it perform with less brutality (it is now impossible to eliminate brutality from our welfare system) is the Greens – at least, they were until Turei’s defenestration. The real cause of this horrific social and political problem is that the middle classes have lost empathy with the poor, including the disabled poor. I’m not sure what it would take to instill social consciences to our bourgeoisie but have heard the mantra, repeatedly over the years, from former middle class people reduced to destitution and forced to depend on the tender mercies of ACC/WIN: “I had no idea it was like this”. Well, it is like that and, if you ever lose your purchasing power in our commoditised society, you will find out, quickly and painfully.

  15. beatie 15

    There has been , and still is, a lot of pressure from Winz to move people from a supported living benefit to a jobseekers/sickness benefit. the difference is approx $40 per week and , (for the supported living beneficiary) less stringent extra income requirements. https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/benefit-rates/benefit-rates-april-2017.html#null

    This obsession has lead to an extra layer of Winz bureaucracy, eg District Health Advisers, (not necessarily a health professional). Their function appears to be to over ride a health professionals decision as to what a sick or disabled person is entitled to.

    This system is dysfunctional and extraordinarily difficult to navigate. In my experience, mainstream disability organisations are silent about poverty, despite making a very good living from the disability ‘industry’, so no joy there.

    So if you have the misfortune to become ill, you face poverty, judgement, pain, isolation, depression, patronising attitudes,grief, fear of winz, low-self-esteem, lost dreams,loss of mobility, etc, etc

  16. Venezia 16

    beatie…..As I have been reading this thread, I was wondering about mainstream disability organisations. Where is the advocacy for the disabled?
    But then this government has been very successful at silencing those organisations who depend on them for funding. Its a rotten system we have. If we cant get rid of this government, I am afraid it will be more of the same for the poor.

    • beatie 16.1

      Yes, they learn to not bite ‘the hands that feed’.

      • Tracey 16.1.1

        Remember the removal of gambling counselling funds from an organisation that advocated? This government has silence opponents in ways to avoid the accusation….

        Remember Bennett deliberately breaching the Privacy Act to silence beneficiaries who challenged her? It wouldn’t just have silence those 2 people, but most people thinking of speaking out.

  17. beatie 17

    Then there are the many thousands who have been removed from ACC to Winz.

    Read and weep

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/95520938/stuck-in-a-welfare-storm?cid=facebook.post.95520938

    • Patricia 17.1

      The same doctor who advised ACC on how to transfer their long term clients on to WINZ benefits then went on to advise WINZ on how to get their long term clients back to work. I don’t think that worked too well.
      I believe the same doctor had sorted out the British system earlier and the movie “I, Daniel Blake” told us how that went.
      The People’s Centre provided superb advocacy ; a great loss when it closed. The AAAP group in Onehunga are doing their best now to assist beneficiaries and low income workers.

      • Treetop 17.1.1

        Benefit rights at the People’s Centre relocated to Willis Street, I last spoke to them about 9 months ago 04 210 2012.

        Auckland benefit rights 09 444 9543, I have found them to be helpful as well.

        When a person has a lawyer assisting them to appeal a health matter with ACC, the original decision is more likely to be reversed than not (goes in the clients favor). Some ACC doctors are on the gravy train.

  18. Carolyn_nth 18

    New Twitter account: WeAreBeneficiaries

    WeAreBeneficiaries
    @WeBeneficiaries
    We’re a group of artists and beneficiaries demanding a more compassionate social welfare system in NZ.

  19. Tracey 19

    Thank you so much for this well written piece.

    My brother-in-law was born with cerebral palsy. He is physically and mentally disabled. His physical disability is deteriorating as he moves closer to 60.

    He has a motorised scooter (which we buy and maintain) and lives ina Laura Fergusen residential facility. They are a great provider but if you do not have family with wherewithal as we do, you have nothing. We have worked out that not including his scooter and maintenance we pay his private health insurance, clothes, shoes, outings, spending money, he has SKy which we pay and over and above the support of the residential trust and his allowance we add $850pm to give him more than subsistence living. Sometimes we pay for outings for his whole flat so the other 3 get something more than subsistence.

    If you have an accident and become disabled, and had a job, ACC pays you 80% of your wage. BUT if you get ill or are born disabled you live nothing more than subsistence. There are people in residence with my BIL who cannot see their family because they cannot afford the bus fare and their family cannot afford to travel to them.

    Right to thrive not just survive…

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