No ability in motion

Number 9 in Timms Times

A year ago, my wife’s mobility was low because of very arthritic knees. While waiting for a knee replacement operation,  we invested in a scooter to give her some independence of movement. Driving had become very difficult and risky for her, and was little improved when we switched to an automatic car. I had been our sole driver for a year when Marilyn decided to get a mobility scooter.

We both test drove a Quingo Air five-wheel scooter — clearly more stable and safe than the alternatives. Within a week, Marilyn had taken delivery, and proudly driven herself to and round our local supermarket. Expecting to be embarrassed at having to openly admit disability, however temporary, she was pleasantly surprised. After that trip the Quingo morphed from ‘mobility scooter’ to ‘Nobility Scooter’.

Some months later, our 12-year-old grandson had driven the Quingo several times, and inherited our affection for it. But he had also inherited our quirky sense of humour, and dubbed it the No-ability Scooter.’ So it has remained; with a name that jokingly parallels the politically incorrect ‘disability scooter’.

It’s politically correct nowadays to regard people with minor or fake disabilities as work shy and undeserving. That’s  reasonable, provided the assessment of disabilities is objective and careful.

Coalition Government policy created a new system of assessment by staff with limited or no experience in identifying or measuring disability. The decisions on whether candidates qualify for  benefits are made by someone who does not meet the assessed person. Those arbiters cannot ask or answer questions relating to or coming from the assessed person. Small surprise, then, that nearly half of the assessments to disallow benefits have been reversed after appeals in which the applicant is allowed to speak freely. Winning the appeal means that those applicants benefits, back dated, have to be paid, as do the costs of the original assessment and the appeal. The liklihood of government spending being cut back in this areas seems remote. The certainty of hardship and stress causing avoidable suffering to many applicants is strong.

March 1, 2014

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