Receiving a disability payment isn’t lucky

In September last year I received a letter to say that my Disability Support Pension was being reviewed.  It was the day that I was dreading and it had come at an already stressful time for my family.  I thought that I had missed out on being reviewed, but new measures introduced by the current government meant that I was caught in the net.Receiving this review brought up all of my familiar anxieties about whether or not I deserved the payment.  Was I really sick enough? There were people worse off than me surely.

Of course there was also my phone anxiety to deal with.  I had to make phone calls to organise letters of support for my review.  I felt myself stumbling over the words as I was trying to explain to receptionists what it was that I needed.  I fought with my desire to help them to understand exactly what it was they needed to do, and my feelings that I didn’t deserve this kind of help.

When I was reading through the letters that my treatment team had provided I felt sick.  In black and white was laid out everything that was wrong with me.  I knew that they were talking about my worst days, that these words didn’t define who I was.  However that didn’t stop the feelings of self doubt creeping in.

Was I really this sick?  Did my mental health really have such a far reaching impact on every part of my life?  I watched as the Centrelink worker ticked all of the boxes and saw my disability confirmed.  My mental health was considered a disability.  I was equal parts relieved to have my feelings validated, and despaired that I was still this *bad*.

Applying for a Disability Support Pension is discussed a lot in mental health groups. People ask for advice when reviews and meetings are scheduled.  However there is a common thought that those who a successful are luck to receive the payment.  As if luck has anything at all to do with it.

It’s not lucky that my mental health has been determined to be a disability. It’s not lucky that I have to live with the impairment of a mental illness considered bad enough to be labeled disabling.  It’s not lucky that I feel the crippling effect of anxiety, the despair of depression or the hot rage of my borderline.

Winning the lotto is lucky.  Disability is not.  Finding $50 on the footpath is lucky.  Mental illness is not.  Buying a winning raffle ticket is lucky.  Disability is not lucky.

13 thoughts on “Receiving a disability payment isn’t lucky

  1. Renee Wilson

    Ohh Tegan. That would have been so stressful and upsetting for you to have to make those calls and have everything summarised on paper. Definitely not lucky and not fun at all. #teamIBOT

  2. Hugzilla

    Amen to this. There was actually a big discussion about this issue on Q&A last night and one lady in the audience in particular shredded it. Basically said the same things you have and also took the opportunity to throw in a dig about politician’s entitlements by way of comparison. We are going so far in the wrong direction with these things as a society.

  3. Lydia C. Lee

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll repeat myself. I have the way they government launches these reviews, all too frequently, as the people with mental illness (in particular anxiety and depression) are thrown into a spiral and actually made sicker (or to struggle more – I don’t have the terminology, sorry) for quite a few months in the lead up. It’s a really cruel management of a process. It also is an attack on the weak (in the sense of the opposite of NOT TAXING THE LARGE CORPORATIONS AND BIG BUSINESS). There needs to be a better way.They need to remember these people are people in need of assistance, not threats.

  4. Angela

    Definitely not lucky. Fortunate to have a disability support pension to apply for and receive, not lucky for the circumstance.

  5. Vanessa

    It’s a weird thing. People in centrelink have told my husband he needs to be on DSP but don’t know their own rules that he isn’t eligible. And even if he was eligible, I probably earn “so much” that he couldn’t get anything. Sometimes I wish he could get DSP (heck, sometimes even a low income HCC & no payment) and other times I’m happy that I earn enough for both of us so that we’re lucky we don’t have to talk to centrelink. I waver a lot on this.
    I believe we are ‘lucky’ that neoliberal economic policy hasn’t (yet) totally destroyed our social welfare system but also no one wants to be ‘lucky’ enough to have to deal with centrelink and live on a pittance.

  6. Josefa

    What a stressful (and unnecessary) situation to go through…we need to be more careful, thoughtful and kind with our words. They dictate our society and the views it holds. This is by no means a lucky situation and she should treated far more respect than luck can ever offer xx


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