I had been looking forward to getting back to work in administration just as MS hit. I had been off for 10 years bringing up the children with only my husband to help as my own mum had died of MS when I was 10 years old. Ten years previously I had worked. And that was me. Ten years work, ten years child rearing. At the time of diagnosis I was applying to work for HMRC in tax, I have always been excellent at maths. I flew through the first aptitude test online and also through the telephone role play. The next step was an audio typing test. “You’ll fly through that” said Rob, knowing I have been a qualified audio typist since I was 17. Well I didn’t, in fact I struggled to keep up at all, I hit all the wrong keys and ended up scoring 0%. I think that’s when we realised I had more than just a small problem.
Sure enough a few weeks later the diagnosis came so I thought I would take my time getting back to work as I would clearly need to look at other options. Nevermind, thought I, I shall apply for disability benefit to help support us while I am off. As I used to work as an adviser for New Deal for Disabled people about 12 years ago, I knew what to apply for. For my followers in USA we get help here if we have a health problem and struggle to work. When I say “we” I mean most of us, except me evidently. Me who was born and raised here, has paid into the system for ten years, has held a marriage for 20 years and been an At-home-mum for every minute of their little lives (which I am glad I did and do not begrudge it at all). Because I was at home, bearing in mind I have no family sideways or upwards to help me, I had not been paying the correct National Insurance contributions to qualify. So I got nothing, nada, zip.
Not being one to give up I started to try to find out how I could be covered seeing as MS seems to affect everyone differently some can work sometimes, others can’t. Could I get my dad to pay it for me? No, no longer allowed to do that. Could I claim under my husbands NI? (Who has incidentally never had a day off sick in his life) No, because he works. Well, can he get Carers allowance then as he now does the school run and looks after me and works (sweeping the floor at the same time!) No, because he earns too much. I could not find a way around it so I wrote to the local MP who just referred me to the Department for Work and Pensions, who had said no on all the above counts.
The only thing they could do was pay my National Insurance for me for 2 years before I would qualify. Or so I thought….a few weeks ago having bumped into someone who said it may only be a year I would have to wait I started to investigate again. To my horror, I found out that the NI they had been paying would NEVER count towards this disability help. The only thing I could do was work a full time job for at least 2 years to gain enough. Like yeah, I am really going to be able to do that. Duh! I huffed and puffed for a while, shook my feathers off and thought I would just start applying for jobs as while my health is like this I have got to try as then if I get worse, my boys and hubby will at least be a bit more comfortable whilst I am ill.
I had a job interview last week at Exeter college and did not get offered the post of receptionist at Haven Banks, as soon as I got there I felt out of my depth so was quite pleased. Then by mere chance a friend came to visit and I moaned to her about my predicament. She came up with the idea of being self employed. I looked into it and it looks like it may work. I actually do sell my handmade things, plants and other bits, help people out with bits and bobs when I have the energy. So that’s me, Emma Cunnington, Bits and Bobs. I have registered self-employed and then I can pay my own class 2 contributions for at least 2 years then if I have another period of poor health I should be covered. Should being the operative word…..
Positive thought: make yourself count