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Going to gym & receiving PIP

punkpunk Posts: 21Member Whisperer
edited May 2018 in Disabled people
Hi All, 

i thought I’d post this to get some feedback & others thoughts. 

Im currently in receipt of enhanced pip. 
I have a spinal problem as well as mental health & circulation issues.  

Ive recently been having hydrotherapy & physio at the hospital & my physio has advised to start at the gym & to exercise a few times a week doing some low impact exercise as well as some strength training & hopefully loose a bit of weight. 

Ive joined a gym but after reading a newspaper article & some other stuff online about the DWP obtaining people’s gym logs I’m so racked with anxiety & paranoia I’ve not been out the house for 3 weeks. 

I want to improve my health I’m only young & want to regain some mobility & to get out the house abit more. I have no friends live in the countryside & feel totally isolated as I don’t go out for weeks on end. 

Ive been so paranoid about being done for fraud I nearly called up yesterday to cancel my claim, my Mum told me to wait & see how I feel in a couple of weeks. I just can’t handle feeling like this & feeling like I’m being spied on. I’ve even been suspicious of people walking down the street. 

I don’t know what to do for the best, how can I improve my health if I’m in constant fear of being spied on & being done for fraud. 


  • WaylayWaylay Posts: 775Member Chatterbox
    Hi @punk ,

    I'm similarly paranoid. I worry because I can only leave the house on good days, and not even on all of those, so if they were watching me, they'd see me doing things in an almost normal way. There are no curtains on my kitchen windows, and I worry that they can see me in there. You can also see me on the exercise bike through the windows, and exercising! Eek!

    The thing is (and I keep telling myself this), it's unlikely that they'd be surveilling either of us. We filled out the forms honestly, were truthful in the f2f, and it's not like we're fraudsters.

    if they are watching us, we can explain anything they have to say about us. 

    If they see me walking to the shop, I can explain that it was the only day I was capable of doing that (or maybe 1 of 2 days) for that entire week. They didn't see me the other days because I couldn't leave the house (except to taxi to my counsellor's). They also can't see the pain and fatigue I suffer from, the back spasms I often trigger by walking/standing/etc., or the anxiety I suffer from.

    Occasionally I can make porridge, or boil some pasta, but I can't make 2 meals in a day, and all of the above apply. 

    I only ride that bike for 2 minutes, twice daily. If they think that makes me fit, well, they're insane. 

    If you need to go to the gym to take care of yourself, then I'd say you should go. After all, the award is made on the basis of how you were on the day of the assessment, not now. I've decided that the risk is small enough that I refuse to curtail my life even more than it already is.

    Of course, you have to make your own decision about how much risk there is, and whether you want to take that risk. If you're getting really paranoid, can you do some of the exercises at home? I'm supposed to be doing physio every day, although I haven't for a year. :/ I got some little free weights on Freecycle, and I asked my physio to show me what to do. Might that work for you?

    I hate that they can do even more to us than they already have. Grrr.

  • wilkowilko Posts: 1,439Member Chatterbox
    Hi to you both, it may be of help but if your physo can give you written information requesting, sujesting you take up gym membership and you inform DWP about this and the reason for the need of the gym membership you are being honest, upfront about your atendence at the gym for part of your rehabilitation recommended advised by the Physo, and not for any other reason. Good luck and keep posting and let the cumunity know how you get on.
  • punkpunk Posts: 21Member Whisperer
    Thank you both for your replies. 

    Im glad it’s not only me that feels this way. 

    I feel like I’m caught in a catch 22. 
    Im under a spinal specialist & there is nothing that they can do for me surgically and I’m just going to keep deteriorating. 

    So its about managing the pain, I have found the gym & physio has really helped with my mobility as I think I was seizing up & my movement was becoming more limited. I don’t want to become addicted to opiates and suffer that. I’m in pain constantly but I am now so used to it & try & push through it. 

    I work from home and the only time I was going out was to go the gym on my good days maybe 2-3 times a week. When I was awarded PIP it allowed me to reduce my working hours which has again helped me improve a little.

    These past few since my paranoia has kicked in my depression has come back with a vengeance & feel so isolated & suicidal again. 

    It makes me think is it really worth claiming if it makes me feel this way, I’m so paranoid I’m going to get sent to prison. Things are difficult enough as it is trying to live life & now I have the paranoia of this on top of everything else I’m really at my wits end with it all. I have no life, am a shadow of my former self. Going to the gym felt like a lifeline & I felt so much better & had some hope for the first time in years. This has made me feel like I should lock myself away & just fade away. 
  • nicebootsniceboots Posts: 188Member Chatterbox
    As you said you are going to the gym for medical reasons they can not stop your claim or reduce it. Neither can they get hold of your gym log. That is in breech of client confidentiality, and the gym will not allow that. Please do not believe everything you read in the media or online, sensationalist stories sell papers and increase website traffic, increasing profits. They’re not always the truth. Keep going to the gym! 
  • punkpunk Posts: 21Member Whisperer
    edited May 2018
    Thanks for your reassurance @niceboots I’m don’t know whether I’m being overly paranoid due to my mental health issues. I feel that the disabled are being persecuted at the moment & are being left to rot stuck in doors. I’m not prepared to let that happen to me & want to do what I can to slow the deterioration of my body. I’ve arranged an appointment with my Orthopaedic Consultant to see if I can get it in writing from him that he recommends this as a treatment option. At least if I have any issues I have it from the horses mouth. This whole palava has got me back on a high dose of Pregablen when I’ve been doing so well. 
  • punkpunk Posts: 21Member Whisperer
    I thought I’d add an update to this. 
    Ive recently seen my Spinal consultant for a follow up appointment. 
    He has advised me that due to the nature of condition my only treatment options are opiates and an exercise regime. He wants me to avoid taking drugs as much as possible to avoid dependency and me becoming immune to them.
    He has also referred me to a pain management clinic to see what they can do to help. 
    Ive got a letter from him confirming this so I’m hoping this will be enough to satisfy the DWP if need be. I still feel paranoid and anxious about going but my overall health is so improved in so many ways. 
    Ive seriously been through mental hell stressing over this & all I’m trying to do is help myself instead of rotting away in my own depression. 
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Brian Blessed
    Thanks for the update @punk. I'm so sorry to hear about your anxiety, but it certainly sounds as though you've done the right thing by getting a letter confirming the need for your gym regime in advance: you're clearly doing the right thing and making the best decisions for your health! 
  • StickmanStickman Posts: 23Member Listener
    edited January 3
    I've had my mandatory assessment and have been refused PIP for the second time.

    I go to the gym 3 times a week but, like it is mentioned here and what I've read,  I am now wary of going.

    So, at my last physiotherapy session which was last year, I told my therapist that I go to the gym as I was also advised to do some gym work.  There is a gym at the hospital.

    it was said that exercise helps heals bones - I shattered my arm in 2010.  I also have loss of balance which I have lived with for 45 years.  This was due to the removal of a malignant brain tumour.

    The gym also has other benefits, apart from keeping my muscles in shape, it helps me focus and leaves me in a positive attitude it can help build social circles -  interacting with people and make new friends.  I have a lot of admirers down at the gym - people who admire me for having a disability and not letting it get in the way  So, should I carry on with the gym?
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Brian Blessed
    I'm sorry to hear about your experiences, @Stickman. It sounds like a difficult decision to make and not one we can offer a clear answer to, but hopefully some of our members will be able to share their thoughts with you.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 3,169Member Brian Blessed
    May I offer some different perspective?

    1 - unless you’re in the gym more than 50% of the day or 50% of the week then doing therapeutic gym work recommended by a medical professional isn’t going to demonstrate to any decision maker that you have suddenly become capable of specific activities. Bearing that in mind, going to the gym is unlikely to be a relevant change of circumstances and doesn’t necessarily even need to be declared to DWP.

    2 - DWP ain’t watching anyone unless someone gives them a reason to. The worst that happens in such circumstances is that benefit is suspended pending an investigation which may or may not involve an interview under caution, which sounds threatening but is usually conducted by people who don’t know much about the benefit they’re asking about; don’t know the PACE guidance and who are really just engaged in speculative information gathering. Worst case scenario is a recoverable overpayment; an admin penalty and a fine. Prison diesnt entire the equation unless fraud can be shown. Fraud stats on disability benefits show that it’s one of the lowest areas of fraud and prosecution rates are also incredibly low, albeit disproportionately reported in the media. Take a deep breath every time you think any of this might happen to you and recognise that you really don’t fit the profile. 

    3 - @Stickman and @Waylay make excellent points and you should hear those in mind also but be very clear about why you’re going to the gym. Is it for recommended medical therapy? Is it just for the benefits of getting out? There was an excellent piece of DLA caselaw some years back which talks of the fact that no disabled person should be expected to sit in a chair all day and do nothing and should not be punished for trying to do the opposite. 

    4 - Figure out what you have to do at the gym and whether you can do that at home. I’m not suggesting this as an alternative to going to a gym as the benefits of merely getting out are huge but for those days when you can’t get there. Weights and exercise bikes are relatively cheap. Other stuff less so but there’s plenty of good second hand stuff out there. 
  • StickmanStickman Posts: 23Member Listener
    edited January 4
    Hi mikehughescq

    I've been to a few gyms for help with my disability and over time I have put together a fitness program that suits me and I stick with that.  I'm not looking to be the next Mr Universe, I just do enough to keep me shape.  I have a number of friends who are in wheelchairs who go to the gym.

    Do you still have the details of the DLA caselaw that you mention?  I'd be interested in reading it.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Posts: 3,169Member Brian Blessed
    Get your GP to comment/approve and then there’s nothing else to do. The DLA caselaw is public domain and I think was so old it was possible a Commissioner Rice decision but in any event you don’t need it. I was simply mentioning the principle it laid down.
  • WaylayWaylay Posts: 775Member Chatterbox
    Keeping mobile and as fit as possible can make an enormous difference for many physical disabilities/illnesses. Screw the DWP. We need to take care of ourselves!

    Also, @niceboots are you a Goth?
  • nicebootsniceboots Posts: 188Member Chatterbox
    As others have said, keep going to the gym! The physical and mental benefits are huge. I normally go 2-3 times on a good week for an hour, when I’m not so good I might manage just an hour or not at all in a week. I’m never going to be the next worlds strongest man, but what I do helps me function! I have really noticed the negative impact of not going recently, as I haven’t been for nearly two months after falling over and injuring my knee. I have been so much more tight and uncomfortable, unsteady and uncoordinated. I also just feel more lethargic. 
    @Waylay no I’m not a goth, interesting question?
  • punkpunk Posts: 21Member Whisperer
    Glad I’m not the only one concerned about this, it’s also interesting to see that there is caselaw when it comes to this. 

    I have been going to the gym off & on since I originally posted this. It definitely helps me massively in many ways. The main benefits for me have been pain management, better mobility, weight loss & improved mental health.

    I’m still in pain all of the time but it’s a little bit more manageable. Of all the things I’m doing to get by exercise has been the most effective.

    My orthopaedic surgeon has written me a letter saying he recommends exercise for pain management as there are no surgical solutions & he is concerned about the long term use of Opiates.

    I’m still totally paranoid as the DWP are known for being ignorant to alternative treatment options and for making assumptions based on some things you may do even if you are in pain whilst doing it. 

    It really is a sad state of affairs when people can do something to help themselves by following professionals advice are too paranoid to do so through fear of being too fit for disability benefit. My life is now better due to receiving PIP and exercise, if I lost either of these my life would be significantly worse so it really is a catch 22.
  • StickmanStickman Posts: 23Member Listener
    edited January 5
    Right, I'm starting back at the gym on Monday for 3 days a week after my christmas break.  As I said, I have a lot of admirers, acquaintances down at the gym who I have a chat with.  I can't give that up.
  • petulerosepetulerose Posts: 3Member Listener
    Please be very careful because I fell into this trap. It only takes one phone call from someone with a grudge. My medical records/letters all started my condition as varies & sometimes. Advise exercise when possible. All forms filled in honesty. But cctv footage was taken of me getting out of a car (yes disabled do drive) & me pottering about for 10 mins. (He said he’d filmed me for 3 months but could only show 15 mins of footage) take on same day. But during the interview over 3hrs whilst having cancer I was treated like dirt. The guy who interview me said “you don’t look disabled to me” “you don’t look in pain” during the interview he wanted me to admit doing wrong & I wouldn’t because my medical evidence started my condition as variable. Even disabled people can have good days. My benefit has been suspended but I will fight this because any disabled person can fall flat on the face with pip. I was born with my medical condition & worked until I had major surgery. If they want to spy on you they can & will bend the rules to gain evidence. Filming you on private property, with a minor. Through social media ect. They don’t follow their own code of practice. I’ve taken legal advice & my solicitor & a specialist benefit advisor have come across my situation many times with pip claimants. I’m disabled but I’m still entitled to a quality of life as are others. Pip stands for personal independence payment. 
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