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Has anyone been for a medical assessment for ESA benefit?

(55 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).


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.

You wouldn't have to pay back the money.

And you might pass the medical. B&W tends to be populated by people who've had problems, by its very nature. Quite a few do win at appeal though.

At my last renewal, early this year, I passed without having to have a medical, much to my surprise and relief I had filled in the ESA50 honestly, with help from B&W guidelines, and the Decision Maker also asked for a report from my psychiatrist.

Earlier posters are right - you should take someone with you if at all possible. Especially as one of the descriptors is about going somewhere on your own.

MOSP Sat 02-Apr-11 11:09:29

Thank you midnight.

Do you know if I get the result there and then? I assume not.

If I get asked ambiguous questions (i.e. Are you able to cope with crowded places?), there is no 'yes' or 'no' answer. Will they force me to answer 'yes' or 'no' nonetheless, for the purposes of the computer programme?

I can't go back in time, but I didn't know about all this when I filled out the medical form. I didn't keep a copy either.

I am taking a friend, but not the one I ideally wanted to take. This friend knows I'm struggling, but doesn't know a lot. I wanted to keep it that way (the nature of the trouble is so private), so actually, her being there will add to the stress, as well as kind of helping.

Anyway, I'll stop blabbing on. I'll just go on Monday. Do what I can, and see what happens.

Thank you for replying and being so kind.

Take care. x

ABitBatty Sat 02-Apr-11 11:21:14

Your local CAB should be able to complete an appeal and represent you at a tribunal if it came to that. When you you get your decision letter make an appointment with the CAB as soon as, as there is a one month time limit on appeals.

You won't get the results there and then, the report goes to the Decision Maker who ... decides! But usually goes along with the report.

It sounds harsh, but adding to the stress kind of helps. The main thing is you have someone with you.

Let us know how it goes.

Orangeflower7 Sat 02-Apr-11 12:49:31

Hi MOSP just wanted to say that if it didn't work out with the ESA and possibly in any case, maybe you could look into tax credits. If the work you are doing is around 16 hrs a week overall you could claim the disability element and possibly be better off than on ESA. You would need to check it out though possibly with CAB. I have a friend who has done this and says it helped her a lot. Just a thought.

Orangeflower7 Sat 02-Apr-11 12:51:59

Oh, and I went for these medicals last Autumn and it lasted about 20 minutes, if ou can you could take someone from your local MIND with you, or get your GP to write and say you need someone to come to your house. I have had one at home or at a centre and found it much better having someone come to the house.

MOSP Sat 02-Apr-11 12:53:34

Thank you. I only do 4.5 hours a week. As I have full time care of my children, I can't cope with more than that. Also, anything I do has to tie in with their needs as well as be flexible for me (so I can alter it when I need to).

Orangeflower7 Sat 02-Apr-11 14:37:09

Ok. Yes I understand. You sound like in a very similar situation to me when I went for my last one. I too had a friend not the one i wanted, who knew me a little and although supportive not that well. I got her to come with me and then wait for me in the waiting room. The lady assessor (you are entitled to one of the same sex you know if that helps) asked me how i traveled and if accompanied and that is the part that matters apparently, that someone came with you. Oh and try not to use public transport if possible. Hope it goes okay. I found the yes/no questions bit really hard too however I believe the test has changed and now asks about situations you would find difficult. Hope to hear how it goes and how the questions are. Tr and just describe things as if it is one of your worst days.

darleneconnor Sat 02-Apr-11 18:15:26

They will ask you how you got there to see how well you coped ie with public transport.
They will go through your daily routine, sleeping, eating, leisure, work etc.
Dont dress up or wear make-up, or shower or use deodorant that morning.
They will be looking for ways to fail you and may lie to do so.

Do you get DLA? If not apply for that too.

MOSP Sat 02-Apr-11 20:25:55

Wonder what they'd do if I was in such a state, I can't even answer the questions. Never wear makeup anyway. Thinking about skipping tomorrow's medication. Mind you, I think even with the medication I will be visibly upset. It'll be a trigger.

I will be travelling in car with friend, so that'll earn me a point.

Thanks for advice and responses.

I will let you know how it goes (if you're interested).

Orangeflower7 Sat 02-Apr-11 22:57:31

Good luck MOSP. Try not to worry too much. Don't let them put words in your mouth. (mine did this thing where she said something like "so you'd make yourself a coffee when you're home?' and then look to me to nod and I would have to was a bit tricky not to just go along with it...but that was just worked out ok passed it, but was a bit of a struggle. It helps if you can think over ways your life has changed due to the way you have been feeling. they will probably ask ou about a typical day. I mentioned my dp takes the children to school and in a similar way she said 'is that for convenience?'so i had to disagree and explain that I would get stressed to get there in time so he helps me in that way. It kind of went on like that really...'so you go shopping?' no, dp does it or has delivered...that kind of is not a great thing at all to go through but just if you have some scenarios to hand that can be helpful..of times when you have had to cancel stuff for example. The hardest things is it makes you focus on your worst times, but there you are. And yes it would be good to hear how it goes, particularly if it is like that or not.

MOSP Sun 03-Apr-11 09:46:48

I think I'm doomed. I can make a cuppa tea. I also have to go shopping for groceries. Being a lone parent means that I'm left with no choice in a lot of things. It's social situations I find excruciating.

Do they give you any time to explain things, or is it just answering their questions? I guess I'll prepare examples of how my illness has changed things for me, and hope I get the chance to say them.

I might even write it up and hand it over if I find myself unable to speak.

I'm so grateful to you all for replying.

Orangeflower7 Sun 03-Apr-11 18:28:24

Hi MOSP, I was thinking of you today as remembering when I went for mine. I got so worried beforehand too, I could hardly think straight. Social situatios are a big part of it. You could explain for example say that you do things when you have to eg for your child like shopping but avoid social situations. I told them about going to the corner shop and leaving the shopping one day as there was a queue for example. Or leaving a toddler group in tears as it was so busy.

Just remembered they might ask you about a typical day. With PTSD (which i had after birth of first,) you might be up in the night possibly have nightmares, I had that anyway, so told them probably up about 3am, unable to sleep, next day possibly you might have got to school, then back at home be tired and unable to concentrate, maybe try to do a couple of things and then have a nap..maybe cancel stuff you could not cope with...just give example of a day where one thing led to the other like that..

I spoke to an advisor from MIND the day before and she advised me to describe things as if it is your worst day. Also if they ask about the tasks cooking etc etc things how you would be as in could you do it repeatedly consistently even when you are feeling at your worst. she also said the advisors often get an idea fo you from how your seem to start with so don't be chatty make a good impression or whatever. Show them if it is making you upset / anxious, ust act how you feel and don't 'put a brave face on'

Have a look at this if you feel ok too, I was in a tizz the day before and couldn't take a lot seems the test thing changes from 28th March so this should be what they are looking at. See under 'social engagement'; especially as that is what you are struggling with.

there is also a video of a typical interview made by an advisory place

It is for incapacity benefit not esa but might give you an idea of what to expect. Best wishes for tomorrow, xx

Orangeflower7 Sun 03-Apr-11 18:30:57

And also i hope I didn't make you feel worst- I think the test may have changed so it isn't so yes / no. I hope so anyway as am due to have another soon.

bittersweetvictory Sun 03-Apr-11 19:41:21

Just watched the video and it was very helpfull, i will be taking my autistic son for one of those interviews soon and im going to make sure that not only is glass half empty but its been poured down the sink and the glass is smashed, i was thinking of making him look as scruffy as possible but since i do all his personal care im not so sure as that will reflect badly on me as his advocate.
We will be taking the bus as its 50 odd miles away but DS has a bus pass companion card so it wont cost us anything but i suppose thats a good thing as well because it shows he cant go on public transport on his own, also he is practically mute in front of strangers and stutters really badly when answering questions and cant make eye contact so im expecting to either be in there for about 3 hours if they expect him to answer the questions on his own or to answer for him.
Since autism is a life long condition and he gets DLA im expecting him to pass ( or fail, depends how you look at it ) and since he has a doctors note signing him unfit for work for 6 months and she is willing to keep on signing them i hope that all goes in his favour but im still worrying myself sick about it but at least after watching the video i kind of know what to expect and know how to approach it.

MOSP Sun 03-Apr-11 22:53:33

Thanks for those links. I finally managed to look at them. Really helpful, thank you.

I have (wth the help of a friend) done a write-up of relevant points, incase they are not sufficiently covered in the interview. I think I will take in two copies, and at the end of the assessment, I'll give him/her the document, and ask him/her to sign my copy to confirm they have received it.

Off to bed now. xx

Just to say I'll be thinking of you.

LilQueenie Mon 04-Apr-11 00:27:11

I nearly went for one. I go the letter asking me to go for an assessment. I had to laugh. Id been signed off with really bad morning sickness!

Orangeflower7 Mon 04-Apr-11 00:53:48

Hi MOSP just make sure you mention your friend helped you with it- you don't want to seem too organised! I'll be thinking of you too.

Bittersweet I think it's outrageous you have to go through that with your son. Could you get your GP or another person to write as they have to come and see you at home if there are grounds for that.

LilQueenie well morning sickness would affect our life quite badly albeit for a set amount of time- :-) I can see it wouldn't be easy in some jobs especially customer facing.

MOSP Mon 04-Apr-11 14:11:09

Had the appointment. Then fell asleep on friend's sofa. Home now.

I was really agitated the whole time, which I suppose went in my favour, although it was horrible. My friend chipped in loads of really helpful stuff that I could confirm when I wasn't able to speak properly. I managed to speak, but it was quite disjointed.

The nurse seemed nice, but she did do the . "so you can.......then, can't you?" thing. I was very guarded when answering, trying not to agree if it wasn't quite true. I'm know that everything I said, and my demeanor was alol absolutely genuine.

Now all I can do it wait. My friend seems more positive than me. I'm expecting to fail, because that's what the system is designed for. However, the nurse did seem to warm to us, was sympathetic, and commented that her report will weigh heavily on the decision, based on what she's seen of me. Not sure how to translate that.

I gave her the document I had prepared, and she wrote on my copy to confirm that she's received it.

Thank you all for asking.

Just need to recover now. It was such an ordeal.

Orangeflower7 Tue 05-Apr-11 11:54:19

Sounds really like how mine went too then, it is horrible isn't it. I was so stressed for about a week after then managed to 'let it go' in my mind a bit. I think you should hear in about week or so, so not long. It sounds good you got the nurse to sign the sheet, mine didn't even look at the stuff i had written (but still passed though).

Best wishes hope you are ok today.

MOSP Sat 09-Apr-11 12:45:00

I passed! Phew! In the 'support group'. Anyone know what that entails? How often do I need to be seen?

bittersweetvictory Sat 09-Apr-11 13:33:38

Glad you passed MOSP smile, im still waiting to hear from them about my autistic sons assessment, all i know about the support group is this bit i copied and pasted
....If you are placed in the Work Related Activity Group, you will be expected to take part in work focused interviews with your personal adviser. You will get support to help you prepare for suitable work.....
My sons SW from the disability team said that it would probably be every couple of months if my DS got put in this group, she is trying to bypass them by finding DS supported work through SS, im his DWP appointee so deal with all his benefits for him and hes got a sick note from the GP for 6 months and shes willing to keep signing but the local job centre keeps phoning to get him in for an interveiew, last time i asked her if she was over ruling the GPs sick note and told her to p off.

bittersweetvictory Sat 09-Apr-11 13:40:24

oops copied and pasted wrong bit, i meant to do this bit.

If you are placed in the Support Group because your illness or disability has a severe effect on your ability to work, you will not be expected to take part in any work. You can do so on a voluntary basis if you want to.

so i dont think you will have to go in at all unless you want to.

Wow that is really a result.

You *won't* have to look for work, as you would have if found fit.
You *won't* have to engage in work-related activity (six interviews, but not sure what's happening at present re this), as you would if placed in the Work Related Activities Group (the one I'm in).
You *won't* have to send in sick notes.

Not sure if you have to declare any voluntary work to the DWP. If so, they may be able to claim your condition has improved.

Is there a review date on your decision letter?

I am rejoicing greatly on your behalf

bugger asterisks

Orangeflower7 Sat 09-Apr-11 16:51:39

That's great MOSP that means they really have taken in all you told them, you're info etc. When is the review date on your letter?

MOSP Sat 09-Apr-11 18:08:22

The letter doesn't mention any review date. Nor does it explain anywhere what it means to be in the support group. I wonder if they will let me know that I no longer need to send in sick notes. I do work a small amount (flexible piano teaching), which I have declared.

The amount they are paying is also more than I thought, due to be in the spuport group. I wonder why this is?

I'm glad I've passed, but I find it painful to be receiving more gov money. I just wish I was better, and not needing it.

Anyone else still in the process - I hope it works out for you too.

I suggest you ring DWP and ask for a copy of the medical report. I think it says the review date on that.

The extra money is because you are extra ill. Please don't feel guilty that there is money for people who need it. I for one believe this is right and proper in a civilised society. It is just everyone looking after everyone else IMHO. You are doing your part by looking after your kids, and by looking after yourself.

bittersweetvictory Sat 09-Apr-11 18:56:47

Ive been using this site for all my info, it explains the different rates etc

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