Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

Has anyone been for a medical assessment for ESA benefit?

(56 Posts)
MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 01:16:19

I am getting really scared and worried about mine on Monday.

Anyone able to let me know what they will ask, how much info they need, how likely they will pass me?

I have severe PTSD, and some days are more manageable than others. From what I've read (googled it), the advice seems to be to talk about worst case scenario.

I'm petrified that they'll take away the ESA. I know that I'll get better, but atm I can't work more than the small amount I do (which is all flexible).

TIA.

MissTired Fri 01-Apr-11 10:06:43

all i know is they recommend ou take someone with you for support, not had mine yet as only just applying for esa, good luck xxxx

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 11:01:50

Thank you. The only person I could possibly think of taking is working that day She seen me at times of severe distress, feeling suicidal. She also knows the cause of the ptsd, not that I could possibly tell the person conducting the assessment.

I'm so scared.

Thanks for replying.

darleneconnor Fri 01-Apr-11 11:14:02

Take someone, anyone . Almost everyone fails it, esp if its for mental health reasons.

I appealed mine so got to read th3 assesors notes from the day. She had ignored/dismissed everything i said and gave me 0 points when i should have got 40!

Have you googled what the criteria are?

skybluewinking Fri 01-Apr-11 11:23:01

I have had one, but it was post foot surgery,and as I was in plaster for 3 months it would have been hard to fail.
I did check out "Benefits and Work" website though before I filled my form in. It gives you the scores that you need,and there are lots of case studies on there. You can join it for more detailed info, but it costs.
Good Luck

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 12:41:40

I did google it, but got so upset at what I read I couldn't focus. Need to prepare for Monday. Any advice??

darleneconnor Fri 01-Apr-11 13:31:11

Write down the things you want to say so you dont forget anything.

Don't be all brave and noble. It's OK to show how ill you are.

They are told to notice eye contact, apparently depressed people look at the floor. How clean and well groomed you are - all sorts of tosh.

They do not make small talk, although it may seem to you that they do. The most casual remark can be taken the wrong way.

If you say you go on the internet it will 'show you can concentrate', as it will if you watch TV. Making a cup of tea or putting the washing on shows you can do a task.

It's maddening that doing all the things that improve your mh count against you, and I'm sorry this post is a bit of a downer. But people do get through these medicals. If you don't then do appeal - with help if poss. I too recommend Benefits and Work who have good guides (though it costs £19 to join for a year), and lots of good people on the forum. You can read but not post if a non-member.

BTW is it Permitted Work? Therapeutic Earnings?

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 22:45:27

Yes, the work I do is permitted and therapeutic. They know about it. Only 3 piano pupils and a cleaning job for a friend. All of which are flexible to swap times if I can't cope.

My days differ, that's the problem. I think the general advice is to describe the worst days. I definitely won't lie or deceive though. It goes against everything I believe.

PTSD is different from depression. I am not neglecting myself or my children overall. Well, there are times I feel rooted to the spot and can't move or speak. My children are old enough now to make dinner/shower/get themselves to bed when necessary. I just struggle immensely keeping afloat with the little I do, and I know I can't do more until I am well.

Worrying about money is yet another thing I can't cope with.

In fact, the 'attacks' are so debilitating, I can't even focus to prepare for the assessment, but I only have two days to do so.

I'm just sitting here blindly typing. This is all too much. I can't do it

I noticed it was PTSD after posting, sorry. I too have a variable condition (bi-polar). Did you keep a copy of the ESA50?

At the last medical I had, I had a minor meltdown, which the ATOS doctor took as a personal attack! What does he expect from somone with my condition? But it got me the points (I did not do this intentionally though)

I guess what I'm saying is it's ok not to prepare, but to 'channel' your worst time IYSWIM at the medical.

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:11:21

midnight servant - if they insist that if I can go on the internet or use a washing machine, that makes me ineligible, then I am sure to fail. I can't lie.

Is there really no more give than that?

The medical form I filled in seemed so inadequate because there was nowhere to fully explain my illness. I'm so scared.

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:14:39

Just being there will trigger attacks. That is horrible and humiliating. I go mute. It's just awful. What if I can't speak to answer their questions? On the other hand, if (by a small chance) I am feeling on an even keel, I will be able to coherently explain what life is like, but maybe they'll perceive me to be too 'normal' despite what I'm saying.

Is it better to say less or more?

Sorry MOSP I want to be a help, not get you all worried

The ESA descriptors changed in March - do you know whether you are having the old WCA or the new one? When did you get your ESA50?

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:28:06

I sent it off about a month ago. It was hard to fill in accurately. Absolute honestly is my policy, but it seems that if they detect that there is any function at all, they'll fail me.

I have to cope. I'm a single mum. If I was as 'bad' as they want me to be, I'd have had the children taken from me.

Can you give advice how to pitch it? Thanks for answering. Really appreciate it.

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:28:35

I know nothing about the old and new. Sorry, no idea.

Am hunting out descriptors.

Meanwhile, are you currently on IB? or is it a new claim for ESA?

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:44:14

I was on IS, but when my youngest child reached 8, it was stopped and I was heavily advised to apply for ESA. No one told me about this seemingly impossible hurdle.

I made the claim for ESA in February this year.

MOSP Fri 01-Apr-11 23:56:08

Does the assessment just consist of them asking the same questions I already answered? Are they just filling out a computer generated questionaire that calculates the points. No room for explanation of personal struggles that are not covered on the form? Sorry for all the questions.

but you are on therapeutic work?

did you get the disability premium on IS?

do you have difficulty going to new and/or familiar places?
can you cope with unexpected change?

(these seem to be the most relevant ones)

I know you prob have no spare money but I would recommend looking at the B&W guides if you can - and for that you do need to join, I'm afraid.

There is also a clause that says that if there is a danger to yourself or others if you are found fit for work, then you shouldn't be found fit.

Sorry cross posted with you.

The assessment doesn't really feel like it's related to the questionnaire you filled in. It is guided by this computer program that no-one is allowed to know how it works. They will ask you about your day, and as they put their answers into the computer, it comes up with suggested questions for them to ask.

they record your answers as they go along- but it often comes out different to what you intended. For example, at mine he asked if I played a lot of solitaire. I sighed with relief that he understood how this was all I could do in my state of depression, but it came out as 'can use computer for 30 mins'. The trouble is the programme is designed to output what you can do, rather than the problems you have.

MOSP Sat 02-Apr-11 00:27:23

Do you know if the appeal process is conducted differently, i.e. dealt with by a real person rather than a computer? Sorry for not replying sooner. I'm here, but on the phone. x

Well, the doctor at the medical can in theory override the computer. It's his/her opinion that's supposed to be in the report.

And technically it's the DWP Decision Maker who decides. You can send supporting info in, but with your medical being on Monday, I would wait for the outcome and then appeal - you have to do it on a special form and there's a time limit of I think a month. As soon as your appeal goes in you're entitle to assessment rate ESA. And you can send off supporting stuff like doctors' reports.

Then the decision maker does a reconsideration, but I don't think they change their minds very often. Then it goes into the appeal system. As you can imagine, it's overloaded at the moment, and people are waiting months and months.

Then you go to tribunal, where 3 people independant of the DWP consider your case based on your evidence and what you say at the tribunal. Many decisions have been overturned at tribunal, but if you're under the new descriptors it's too early to say what tribunal outcomes are, as there haven't been any under these descriptors.

I know if you show your condition it will seem horrible and humiliating - so did mine, and I went off somewhere and cried for half an hour afterwards. But was put in the Work Related Activity Group - which meant I don't have to look for work.

But it is now a horribly unfair test that shows no understanding of what it's like to have mh problems. It's reasonable, therefore, that it would trigger whatever mh condition the claimant has. So, no shame in that.

Oh, and if you do win, you get the shortfall in ESA backdated, as a lump sum.

MOSP Sat 02-Apr-11 01:00:17

Thanks for all your help! That solitaire thing is absolutely bonkers.

I think I'm just accepting that I'll have to appeal.

Do you know, if I ultimately lose, do I need to pay back the money they've paid me already?

Thanks for being so helpful.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now