Career Champion: “The bureaucratic blues”


Sally Champion

Sally Champion continues her weekly blog about the process of setting up a part-time business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice.

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Episode 8: “The bureaucratic blues”

A couple of days ago I went to see a Work and Income designated doctor.  Seeing him was the first step in the process I’d instigated to review the decision made to put me on a Sickness Benefit, rather than the Invalid’s Benefit.

Before I went to see the doctor I wrote a brief personal history and attempted to pre-empt and answer the questions he might have around my eligibility for the Invalid’s Benefit.  I also outlined how being on the Invalid’s Benefit would help me set up my own part-time business. I wanted to address all the issues I could think of up-front rather than be distracted by conversation and forget half of what I wanted to say.

He read my synopsis, asked me a couple of questions and told me he had requested a report from my doctor.  He said, in his opinion, it was fairly clear that I should be on an Invalid’s Benefit, rather than a Sickness Benefit.

It really was as simple as that. He knew exactly what I meant when I talked about stamina and the level of activity I can sustain and the recovery time required if, willfully or unwittingly, I miscalculate how much fuel I have in the tank.

So it looks as though the last piece of my pre-business launch plan is fitting into place. I will be switched to the Invalid’s Benefit, I have withdrawn a small amount of my KiwiSaver money and I start the Flexi-Wage business course next week.

You would imagine I would be feeling ebullient at this point but, in actual fact, since my visit to the doctor I have felt quite down. I’ve come up with two reasons why I could be feeling that way.

The first reason is the enormous amount of time and energy I’ve spent making my PRE-business launch plan happen. This effort hasn’t been anything to do with setting up my actual business. This effort hasn’t made me any money, and I’m not contributing yet to the well-being of New Zealand by paying tax (apart from the tax I pay on my benefit, which is surely meaningless since it really is robbing Peter to pay Paul).

No, this expenditure of energy has been about negotiating my way through a maze of bureaucracy. I have been able to get through it because I am well informed about the policy, I’m articulate and I can write darn good letters.

The second reason I have been feeling a bit flat is that I’ve been worrying about those people who don’t have these skills. What happens to them? Do they just sink silently?

I start the business course in a couple of days. It is a privilege to be given this opportunity to learn. At the moment I don’t really care how hard setting up in business and finding work turns out to be. I imagine whatever that struggle is at least I will feel an increased sense of engagement with the real world.

Sally will talk about the course in some detail in her next blog.  

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2 thoughts on “Career Champion: “The bureaucratic blues”

  1. I can sooo understand your reasons for feeling flat Sally. Encounters with bureaucracies do that for me too – often far more than my actual disability does. I also wonder if there is another strand to it all – having to constantly explain one’s disability and all it’s daily implications takes a lot of internal energy. The opposite of spending time in one’s happy place.

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