The Administration of Disability Benefits in a Simulated Universe

Categories Science Fiction

Digital Disability Allowance – Assessment Interview

Assessor: Driffield, Tina

Client: Wludzik, Piotr 

Appointment Time: 09:00

Description of Digital Disability: Client’s skin is ‘glitched’ and intermittently transparent. During an episode this reveals skull, musculature, organs, eyeballs, etc.

Notes: Client is a waiter at a restaurant, currently on sick leave due to his ‘glitch’. He became irate when advised that Digital Disability Allowance was not for cosmetic issues but rather for those who are unable to work due to physical & mental disabilities that have emerged since it became clear that human beings are simulations within a computer game. He repeatedly asked how he was supposed to serve food to customers when his ‘glitch’ could strike at any moment and would make customers think his eyeballs were about to fall onto their plates. He was reminded that jobs outside the catering sector were available and that if he refused to accept an offer of employment at minimum wage he would not be eligible for other benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance while looking for work.

Assessment: Experiencing challenges but still capable of work.

Decision: DDA denied.

#

Digital Disability Allowance – Assessment Interview

Assessor: Driffield, Tina

Client: McRoss, Samantha

Appointment Time: 10:00

Description of Digital Disability: Voice files corrupted. Client can only produce deafening electronic shrieks instead of speech.

Notes: Client is on sick leave as her duties at a call centre are currently impossible to fulfil. She has attempted to find work with military and police as a riot control specialist, but has been barred from this as the use of sonic weapons constitutes a violation of human rights law. She was advised that as she is effectively mute but otherwise capable of work, the only benefit available is a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which she already receives at a reduced rate but complains is inadequate to her needs. She grew frustrated and attempted to argue her case, unleashing a painfully loud electronic screech which rattled windows and crockery. She was warned that security would be called if such behaviour was repeated. The interview was then interrupted by an announcement on all media from the developers responsible for creating our universe, giving notification of a planned server update to take place this afternoon, which should address all ‘glitching’ conditions. Client then left, emitting a final squawk which shattered my mug, spilling tea on her paperwork.

Assessment: Already receiving appropriate benefit (PIP). Warning to be issued regarding acceptable behaviour.

Decision: DDA denied.

#

Digital Disability Allowance – Assessment Interview

Assessor: Driffield, Tina

Client: Kingston, Aileen

Appointment Time: 11:00

Description of Digital Disability: Temporal issues caused by ‘lag’.

Notes: Interview conducted with great difficulty as the client was suffering a severe bout of ‘lag’. She was initially trapped in a loop of entering the room and ‘rubberbanding’ back to the corridor. Once we were able to begin, she struggled to make herself understood through severe ‘stuttering’. I attempted to alert her to this afternoon’s server update, but she was more intent on completing the interview as quickly as possible – apparently she has already had to reschedule three times following these attacks of ‘lag’. She then became frozen in place for several minutes before disappearing completely. She phoned in half an hour later to report that she had ‘respawned’ over a hundred miles away, and to ask if we could continue the interview over the phone. I advised her that I could not do this as I was about to begin an interview with another client, but I nevertheless exercised personal discretion to cancel an automatic denial of DDA, and made arrangements to reschedule the interview for six weeks time.

Assessment: Unable to complete interview.

Decision: Interview rescheduled.

#

Digital Disability Allowance – Assessment Interview

Assessor: Driffield, Tina

Client: Stokely, William 

Appointment Time: 12:00

Description of Digital Disability: ‘Clipping’ disorder. Client is unable to touch normal matter except for the majority of floor surfaces.

Notes: Client was advised that the update due this afternoon might well address his condition, but despite this he insisted on recounting his rambling personal theory that the DDA claims system is rigged to ensure no one is approved due to the massive expense of all the people ‘glitching’. He was asked to sit down but pointed out that he would only fall through the chair. He continued pacing about the room as he condemned the department and the DDA, while expressing sympathy for my role as ‘the poor girl who has to get herself shot on behalf of the officers’, as he put it. By this point we had gone half an hour without actually being able to start the interview, and I advised him that we could not award any benefit unless he co-operated with the process. He at last decided to at least stand where the chair was, but this turned out to be on top of one of the rare patches of floor with which he could not interact. He fell through the ground and disappeared from sight. After a brief search, Fire & Rescue were called; they concluded that he was almost certainly falling towards the centre of the Earth and that they were helpless to assist.

Assessment: Client left interview before completion.

Decision: DDA denied.

#

Digital Disability Allowance – Assessment Interview

Assessor: Driffield, Tina

Client: Hall, Gareth

Appointment Time: 14:00

Description of Digital Disability: Client suffered fatal injuries in a car crash, but has failed to actually die. Constantly loses blood/limbs/organs (commonly referred to as ‘gibs’), which later reappear.

Notes: Client seemed likely to meet the criteria for Digital Disability Allowance as his ‘glitch’ makes it extremely difficult for him to perform any kind of work (he attended the meeting wrapped in plastic bandages to minimise loss of blood and tissue but his hand detached anyway when I tried to shake it). The server update was scheduled to take place during the interview but we continued anyway as he doubted it would make a difference, given that previous updates have failed to help him. He seemed very despondent about his situation, asking if we could give him admittance to a high-energy physics facility in Switzerland which might be able to completely destroy his body. I expressed sympathy but had to remind him that euthanasia is illegal in this country, and it was therefore against departmental policy to fund an overseas journey for such a purpose. At this point, the update was applied and his condition was swiftly rectified; sadly, this meant that he dropped dead on the spot. I called for an ambulance and have requested help in dealing with the bloodstains. I shall also be claiming expenses for dry cleaning.

Assessment: Client deceased.

Decision: DDA denied.

#

Jobseeker’s Allowance – Claim Interview

Interviewer: Singh, Sanjeev

Client: Driffield, Tina

Appointment Time: 14:30

Jobseeker Status: Unemployed for over 3 months

Notes: As I waited for my 14:30 client, Ms Driffield emerged from an interview room with stains on her hands and clothes, calling for my assistance in cleaning up what I initially assumed to be a spillage. I followed her inside and found a partially dismembered corpse wrapped in plastic. Despite the distressing nature of this discovery, I was able to usher Ms Driffield to another interview room and thus keep her distracted, while security called the police. She claimed to be employed by an agency on behalf of the department, taken on to address a backlog for a benefit called ‘Digital Disability Allowance’, apparently awarded to those who were ‘glitched’ due to, as she put it, ‘the universe being a computer game’. Her ID established that she was actually the client booked in for my 14:30 Jobseekers’ Allowance claim interview, and that, according to our records, she was in fact unemployed. She then claimed that she must be ‘glitched’ as she was the only person who could remember the universe as it was before a ‘server update’ was applied, which (quite conveniently) seems to have removed all trace of this ‘glitching’. She was advised to see a doctor and make a claim for Disability Living Allowance if a relevant health condition could be diagnosed. At this point the police arrived and placed her under arrest.

Decision: Claim for Jobseekers’ Allowance denied, permission to restart claim withheld for 6 weeks.

Paul R. Hardy
Paul R. Hardy lives in the UK with a coffee habit, a laptop and various health problems. He works at a major NHS hospital, which is handy for the health problems, and writes speculative fiction that has appeared (or will appear) in venues such as Unidentified Funny Objects, Escape Pod, Diabolical Plots and Fireside Fiction. Web: paulrhardy.com Twitter: @Paul_R_Hardy
Paul R. Hardy
Paul R. Hardy lives in the UK with a coffee habit, a laptop and various health problems. He works at a major NHS hospital, which is handy for the health problems, and writes speculative fiction that has appeared (or will appear) in venues such as Unidentified Funny Objects, Escape Pod, Diabolical Plots and Fireside Fiction.

Web: paulrhardy.com
Twitter: @Paul_R_Hardy