Career Champion: “Wrestling the facts”


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 16: “Wrestling the facts”

I’m enjoying the work I’m doing. A big part of that enjoyment is chatting to people and learning about what they’re doing.

I love the depth of concentration I have to reach to get the gist of their story. And then, when I write it up, I like the mental process of reassembling the plot and the characters, so I can share it with others.

Mostly though, I’ve been enjoying the vacation from myself this activity has afforded. Maybe, at its best, that’s what work is – a vacation from yourself, a propulsion into a wider, fresher world.

Still, when this work finishes, I will return to myself and there sure is a lot of personal infrastructure that needs to be built for me to survive.

So, while I’m doing this job – I’m working at home for a few hours a day and the work will be completed in June – I need to ring around my list again looking for more work. I also need to come up with a way to manage the egregious juxtaposition between wanting to work as much as I’m able, and being on the Invalid’s Benefit.

I made a decision not to pursue the Enterprise Allowance because I couldn’t guarantee I would get enough work, or have enough continuous personal energy, to make it work. But opting for the Invalid’s Benefit isn’t exactly a soft landing.

Let’s look at the facts I’m wrestling with.

I can calculate my physical capacity right now. I know for instance that I have got the energy to do the work I’m doing at the moment. I know that from experience. I can also predict that I could do a similar small job, after this one, and still be OK. Work may not be available however.

Then it gets hazy. Will I need a couple of weeks rest then?

As far as being on the Invalid’s Benefit is concerned, how do I approach that? I declare my earnings and pay my tax. I do that because I refuse to become a criminal in my own country and Arohata women’s prison would probably be a bit rough going for someone at my time of life.

Recently I saw a clause among Work and Income literature that made my heart leap. Paraphrased, it said: If you are blind or severely disabled we won’t make any deductions for money you earn from your own efforts.

I rang up WINZ and asked for a definition of severely disabled. Apparently it is someone who needs help showering themselves, etc.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I believe it is only right and just that if you are blind or severely disabled (according to this definition) no money is deducted from your benefit. But I think these categories and definitions are odd.

What if you are Deaf?  Or you have a physical disability, but you are able to shower yourself?  Or you experience difficulties with your mental health? Or you have a learning disability? Or you have a combination of disabilities, or health issues?

The Invalid’s Benefit is a weekly payment to help people who are permanently and severely limited in how much work they can do because of an ongoing sickness, injury, or disability. I wouldn’t have thought disability type would be terribly relevant.

Sally is interested in the history of these policy decisions around earning exemptions. If readers can provide her with any information she would be grateful.

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One thought on “Career Champion: “Wrestling the facts”

  1. HI

    In response to your request for information about the origin of the W&I clause excusing income from people who’re “blind or severely disabled” – I seem to recall being told that the Blind are dealt with differently with respect to income because of a historical “deal” that was done by the Foundation for/of the Blind with the government of the day. Another example of a strange inequity in the system.

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