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Employment and Support Allowance, 'work-focused interview' advisor threatening to cut my money if I don't put DD2 in a nursery.(15 Posts)
I had an ATOS medical in October where I got over the 15 points needed to be deemed unfit to work because of my life-long OCD and related anxiety problems.
I went in for my second work-focused interview at the Jobcentre on Thursday, in the first one the advisor said I had to think of something they could pay for that could enhance my life and make a start to getting back to work. I'm having problems doing this because my illness means I find it nigh on impossible to have contact with anyone, even family.
It's definitely not that I don't want to work, from leaving school with sweet FA I got my GCSEs and a couple of A' levels in my 20's, then went on to do a degree with the OU, and I'm nearly half way through a masters. I hate not being productive, and when I have worked (last job was in 1998) I enjoyed being needed and the challenge, money etc.
The advisor said she didn't know what to do with me and that I needed to 'get a bit of light in between you and your daughter' (DD2 is 2.2 YO and went with me to the interview) i.e. I wouldn't be able to start looking for work unless I put started putting DD in a nursery one morning a week because I'm her main carer (I have a DH who works though, so not on my own).
I know a lot of people don't have a choice about having to go out to work and use childcare for their children, so it's not that as such. I don't have a problem with her suggesting putting DD in a nursery at all, it's her
banging on about it keeping bringing it up because she or I can't think of anything else I can do. She said they'd have to cut my money if I didn't do it, but I see it as mine and DHs decision to choose when we start her in a nursery or playgroup and I resent being threatened and manipulated through my two year old daughter by someone at the Jobcentre.
(I know it's not AIBU ) but would I be unreasonable to, in a non-confrontational way, say I would prefer her not to keep telling me to put her in a nursery? I'm finding it hard to get perspective on it because what she's saying makes me feel protective of DD and a bit 'GET AWAY FROM HER YOU BITCH' aka Aliens
The other thing (soz is getting long) is that on the sheet she gave me to summarise the interview, she's put that I have depression as well as OCD, which isn't true. I've never mentioned depression to her, never been diagnosed with it or said any such thing even to my doctor, I've been asked about it at medicals for Incapacity Benefit before but said no.
This makes me a bit wary because she's just made up that diagnosis off her own back, yes, obviously a mistake on her part, but she's making stuff up about me! Should I do anything more than just mention it next time I go in in April?
Thanks for reading
It sounds she she is going beyond her remit there ?? I would write a letter re: the depression. Just 'I noticed you had documented depression, this is incorrect I have not been diagnosed with depression but have anxirety and OCD problems.'
Nursery - why would you want to put her in nursery at the moment, you are not currently fit to work and you prefer to have her with you, that is a totally normal thing to do. Not me, I put DS in preschool for a few hours from 2 yrs for a little break but he is super lively and he loves it.
My suggestion for nursery, would be positive about it, as in 'Oh yes, we will be looking for a preschool place from when she is three' So it sounds like you are saying yes but really saying, not just yet pal
I would ask her to clarify exactly how they will cut your money if you don't put her in nursery because it sounds like bollocks to me (not an expert on benefits of course)
Sorry - the 15 points, does that mean they feel you are fit to work? Have you appealed? I know a lot get turned over on appeal.
Do you need to go through all this? Seeing that your dd is so young aren't you entitled to claim income support?
Thanks for answering
'So it sounds like you are saying yes but really saying, not just yet pal '
That's exactly it DickS! I said she would be entitled for her free place in January next year, but I wonder if she's got it a bit muddled in her mind because she kept saying 'playgroup' which I can't go to because obviously there are other people I'd have to interact with, but I think she means nursery where I'd leave her. Didn't specify what I was supposed to be doing when she was away from me, not looking for work I don't think because I got the impression it was to start the 'separation' process you have to go through to start leaving your DC in childcare.
You have to get over 15 points to 'fail' the medical and be found not fit for work, so I can't work. It's really difficult to get the points from what the net says on it, especially with mental health problems.
I've been on Incapacity Benefit for quite a while madmouse, and ESA is taking it's place from April onwards so it's different criteria for the benefit, these interviews are part of that. I can understand why they're doing them, and when I said I wasn't being awkward or obstructive saying I was finding it difficult to think of something to do to enhance my life, she accepted that.
It's hard to know what to say to her when I don't know what they expect from me.
I don't get it - why do you need to start looking for work/getting ready to work if you are not fit to work - am I being thick? Do you get DLA for your mental health issues?
I know they are often set for quite a long time and are not necessarily related to being able to work (my neighbour has been given DLA for 5 yrs for mental health problems but works when she has a job, IYKWIM)
It's a bit of a bone of contention all round with disability and mental health charities DickS, but you're right, I've been found not fit for work but have to make a start to get back to work I think they're trying to give people who maybe haven't thought of a way round obstacles that could be solved with a bit of support to help them back to work.
The advisor said they can't force anyone to get a job or anything, but the attitude from the off is one of someone used to dealing with very difficult people on a daily basis, (which you find in quite a few places, like ringing the council tax office you can hear the twang in their voice straight away). It's very intimidating.
The medical people said I wouldn't have to be assessed again until 2014, so they know it's a long term thing.
It is assignment to WRAG or Support Group that determines what you have to do - both require over 15 points, the former is seen a temporarily unfit, the latter unfit for the longer term.
A good source of advice is CAB. They have done some excellent work and built up extensive knowledge of the whole ESA/WCA debacle.
I think I'm in a WRAG.
I'm not sure what I'd ask the CAB though, do you think what I've said in the OP is worth bothering them about given that there are a lot of people much worse off and being really treated unfairly by the DWP?
DickSwivellersTidyWife, you're bang on. People in the WRAG have been designated not fit for work. However, they're required to "prepare for work", even if their health is not improving or actually deteriorating.
It's also planned to make people in the WRAF do Mandatory Work Activity - ie the workfare that's causing all the fuss at the moment.
AgentZ, if you can bear doing this, I think it's completely worth bothering about.
This advisor's behaviour is outrageous - she's making up medical stuff and also trying to make you put your daughter in nursery for no good reason. As madmouse says, even if you were actually fit for work, they couldn't force you to do this with a young child.
You could also take this up with either your own MP or with Dame Anne Begg, on the Work and Pensions Select Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dame Anne was looking for stories of how the WCA was affecting people - your story sounds like the next phase of disastrous DWP behaviour. I think it's really important this goes on the record, as I imagine we'll see an emerging pattern of advisors pushing really inappropriate stuff, backed up with implicit or explicit threats.
If you're up to it, I'd suggest making detailed notes after each meeting. If the advisor has said anything really outrageous, you could also write them a very polite, businesslike letter afterwards saying, "I'm just confirming that this was what was said in our meeting of DATE," so they can't later claim you made it up (but that's v slightly confrontational so you might not want to do that bit).
I get the feeling from what the advisor says and the way she talks to me that she maybe thinks I could do what she says if I could get over myself!
Like when I said I wasn't happy with the way she was talking about DD and it sounded as though she was suggesting she was just in the way, she replied with 'Well you could do it (put DD in nursery) if you wanted to, it's the way you're thinking about it that's stopping you'
I'm trying to keep in my mind that she's not there to comment on my mental health or whether I'm entitled to the benefit (as this has already been established), I don't have to justify myself to her, and she's only doing her job, but I've even started dreaming about it so it's playing on my mind a bit I think <tsk>
It's that fine line SK between being a bit confrontational and being the 'grey man' and not drawing attention to yourself. There's no way I can let the depression thing go because (thankfully) it's down in black and white, and I'm trying to think of things to fend her off so she doesn't go back to DD, like sorting my CV out maybe? But would that be seen as complying with them or make them think even more that I'm fit for work??
ive just been looking at letters sent by a mr taylor asking under freedom of information rules for how many people have killed themselves and gov letters back saying they dont have the information . Well there must be a lot ive spend all day thinking about it because i was told i cant get esa and without it i have no future . Accordind to my assesor the fact its a long time sice my last attempt means im not suicidal well i cant affprd to run a home on unemployment benefit the last of my money nearly gone so that means no home no life no future its time it was made public maybe they could have places where people who cant work really could at least get support to do what they can but places where peole answer phones and at leeast care a bit
I don't have children but I'm having a nightmare at the moment with ESA and the work programme. Like you, I have been deemed not well enough to work, but have to do the work programme, which is the same as people on job seekers allowance have to do. It it hideous and soul destroying and makes me feel worse about myself, but if I don't do it then I don't get my benefits. I have no advice but just wanted to let you know that there are others out there struggling with this ridiculous system too. x
Can you actually afford to put your dd in nursery if you don't work?
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