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So how many people are actually aware of the details of the new ESA?

(132 Posts)
CrapBag Mon 15-Apr-13 20:47:33

I have been on Incapacity benefit for a number of years now, for having M.E./CFS and not being able to work. I have just been assessed for the new ESA and have received a letter telling me that I have been placed in the work related activity group and I am expected to attend interviews etc with them looking at getting me back to work. I wrote to tell them I disagree with the decison, they haven't changed it so I need to formally appeal.

I phoned the DWP today to ask them why they have put me in the WRAG as I am not fit for work. She then told me that they have found me unfit for work based on my form and they agreed that I could not work. confused The letter doesn't actually state this.

The bit that really got me was when she said that they could come up with a cure in 2 years time so you can only get ESA in the WRAG for 365 days. Only people with terminal illness go into the support group (according to her). Yes there could be a cure, it could be 10 years away but you can only claim this benefit for 1 year, even though they agree that I am unfit for work. In 1 year my money will stop. She said I may be able to get the income related ESA but I said we don't qualify as my DH has a full time job. She said the government say that you don't need any more money after this. I actually laughed and said that my DHs wages don't cover our outgoings as its not a great paid job (not minimum wage, but by no means a good income). She didn't care obviously.

She said they have passed a new law that means you can only claim ESA for 1 year. But they do agree I am unfit for work, but I still have to attend interviews with a view to looking at returning to work!!!

So for everyone who thinks the government are doing the right thing. No they are bloody not!! A blind person isn't terminally ill, so do they not qualify? People with things like Parkinsons, MS are not terminally ill. Do they only qualify for 1 year as well?

I am so angry right now. angry angry

AmberLeaf Sun 21-Apr-13 22:47:16

Someone close to me had recently had her appeal decision, putting her into the support group from the WRG.

She did wait a long time for her appeal decision though.

I think she got a welfare and benefits advisor from the CAB to help her fill in the gl24 appeal form.

I have heard good things about the website mentioned upthread, everyone has said it is worth the money.

I second what Darkesteyes says about divide and rule, madamred, for all you know your scrounging neighbours could also have a lifelong disability.

Good luck OP and don't leave sending back the form to the last minute!

piratecat Sun 21-Apr-13 22:54:18

hi there. you can send further paperwork to them if you don't get what you need sorted in time for the four weeks deadline.
i sent my appeal form off pronto as i wasn't awarded anything so had to say why i disagreed with their decision and i had to ask to be paid on the assessment rate. for anyone out there make sure you write that down on the GL24 otherwise they will not bother giving you any money whilst you appeal.
you don't have to be terminally ill to be in the support group. you can Google the descriptors.

yes to getting this put in another topic. it Will be useful.

PearlyWhites Sun 21-Apr-13 22:59:54

Tbh I am surprised you are entitled to ESA at all if your dh works is it not means tested then?

AmberLeaf Sun 21-Apr-13 23:09:56

That's part of the changes Pearlywhites.

If a claimant has a spouse/partner then they won't be entitled to it [after a certain time and depending on which category they are in I think]

AmberLeaf Sun 21-Apr-13 23:10:52

Yes definitely don't have to be terminally ill to be in support group.

trulywasted Sun 21-Apr-13 23:13:06

I'd like to add my endorsement of the B&W website, it helped me get DLA a few years ago after I was turned down. I got rejected for ESA but didn't go through with an appeal as I was able to get Income Support instead (not for health reasons - I am a carer for my disabled DD and I was able to get HRC DLA for her thanks to other forums and online guides as well).

There are also other forums online with lots of threads and archives, think Consumer Action Group and BBC Ouch forums were ones that I browsed for more advice and tips. I used to spend hours Googling and reading through threads like this which helped me get an understanding of how the tribunal panels and Decision Makers think.

I got awarded DLA (HRC, LRM) for MH issues, for three years. I will have to apply for PIP when it changes over, and I'm very careful now to maintain contact with a consultant psych and care co-ordinator so that I know I'll have evidence of appointments and ongoing care, and also to keep up appointments with my GP, with the thought always in the back of my mind of building up evidence for DLA renewals. When I did my last DLA application, I sent in practically all my medical notes (you can ask your surgery to photocopy them for you under the data protection act). When you visit your GP/consultant, they will write down what you've mentioned during the appointment, so I'm always careful about what I say and I make it clear if I'm having difficulties.

I agree with those who said upthread that you really need evidence from a consultant, not just a GP. My MH has improved, but only due to the high level of support I get and being able to pay for things that help me from my DLA. So in the longer term, I'd encourage anyone who'll need to apply/re-apply for any disability benefits in future to push for referrals to a consultant and/or other support, e.g. OT. Even if it doesn't really help you with your condition (I've had some pretty useless counselling and OT sessions tbh), it still helps tick the boxes for the DWP and that's all they're interested in sad. Having said that, it can take a few months to even get a first appointment sometimes, so it might not come through for any current appeals, but it's definitely worth bearing in mind for the future.

CrapBag Mon 22-Apr-13 09:45:29

Ok I have an appointment with my GP this afternoon about my supporting letter. She has said on the phone that she can't give an opinion on whether I can work or not and only give a fact based letter on how my condition is, and it will cost my £25. I am not sure if it would be worth the money unless she can say that having to attend work related activites would worsen my condition as that is the base for my appeal for the support group.

Pearly what, so I shouldn't be entitled to any money of my own then because I happen to be married? hmm

I can get contribution based for 1 year (anyone can only get contribution based for 1 year now) because I used to work and paid enough NI credits. After that you can apply for income based but then as my DH works more than 24 hours a week, I won't be eligible for any money at all, regardless of the fact that his full time wages don't actually cover our outgoings, which are hardly lavish anyway.

JackieOHHH Mon 22-Apr-13 10:01:54

crapbag your GP letter won't help. So it's £25 wasted IMHO as they disregard what GPS say.
Send your appeal now, and then send any further supporting evidence as soon as you get it.
I am in the support group and I get the highest amount, due to age addition and length of time I've been on it, my oh works full time, so it is NOT means tested.
Please please consider finding a consultant or specialist in your area that will be able to help you. One good letter can make a huge difference, honest.
The benefits and work website takes you through everything, from applying,to appealing, to tribunal.
I know I keep banging on about it, but I promise you it's worth it. They also have practice guides on there to fill in to see what you're entitled to.
Also, there's a forum on moneysavingexpert.com called disability & dosh, well worth a look, lots of helpful people on there ( including me!!)

If you have mobility problems, make sure ( if you go to an assessment or tribunal) that they are either on the ground floor or have a working lift...RING & CHECK!
My oh helps me get out of the car, he has to hold my hands and pull me out, ( not always, on good days I manage), but if I go to an assessment then I make sure he does ( they're watching!)
Never push yourself, if you can't do it, or it would cause you pain or discomfort then say so.
Without knowing about your condition I can't guide you as much, I'm just going on my problems.
Remember how long it takes you to do things, don't worry that going up to the toilet takes 10/15 minutes, as if its true then it shows how hard life is.
If you want anything specific answering just ask, I will help where I can

RiffyWammal Mon 22-Apr-13 10:09:43

I am in the minority because I didn't feel Benefits and Work was worth the subscription that I paid. This may partly have been because the issue I had was a new one (the 1 year rule had just come in) and they didn't know enough about it, but also I was trying to request a reassessment due to worsening of my illness and there was very little advice about that problem too. The message board is worse than useless; it is closed for most of the day, meaning you can't submit new posts, and a couple of times I wrote a long question and tried to post it, only to get a screen telling me the board had now closed, and my post was lost. The times of day the board is closed aren't even regular set times, you have to read a stickied thread daily to find out the times which is rather ridiculous.

I found the benefits board on Money Saving Expert more helpful and user friendly.

JackieOHHH Mon 22-Apr-13 10:11:06

Ok, I've just re read and see that your condition is classed as ' one of those things' so you're gonna have to do some leg work here.
You need to ring or write to the neurologist and the OT, explain why you're contacting them and could they put your diagnosis in writin?
You could ( as I did), ask them to see you again, so they can see how bad things are for you.
Even though it might be years ago, they can see you again, the reason they haven't will be because there's not much they can do MEDICALLY.

In my situation, i am not going to get better, my trachea is narrowed and my vocal chords paralysed, that ain't gonna fix itself.
But I still see my consultant every 6 months, as much at my request as his, as I like to know that he ' knows' me still, and also I am some sort of an enigma and he's determined to try to mend me!

So, google your local hospital, see if there's a neurologist and get a referral from your GP.
Also, ask about OT support, get this ball rolling now, today, cos its hardto get these benefits without evidencial support.

I've even got a copy of a ct scan I had done, and sent them that!! That cost me £50, but again, it was worth it.
You will have to spend money at some point probably, even if you just request your medical notes from your GP & hospital, again, worth it to see what they're saying!

piratecat Mon 22-Apr-13 10:50:08

Jackie you have lots of good knowledge. thanks for your help here.

I am not sure what to say to my gp on wednesday about my mental health. Should i ask to see a consultant, at the hospital. What sort of consultant, a psychiatrist?

I need someone to back up my mental health. It was totally overlooked. I got no points at all for my physical stuff either.

One thing that is confusing is that they changed some of the descriptors on the new ESA50, and judged those ones but i had filled in the old ESA50. Particularly the standing and sitting, they changed to standing 'or' sitting.

So confused.

Sarah0378 Mon 22-Apr-13 11:10:54

The thing is some people can work even if they have an illness. I have MS and work full time. I can manage the symptoms even when I get optical neuritis in one eye and if I'm careful the fatigue is also manageable. I know lots of other MSers who work although they have been told they don't need to.
DP has a serious eye condition that means he is unable to look at screens or paperwork and he uses a screen reader and is a software developer, it's hard but he does it.
My Dads best friend has had Parkinsons for years and he still works.
These are just some examples. All of these conditions vary and levels go up and down so I don't think it's unreasonable to reapply every year. Once a year you have to fill in paperwork, what's the big deal?

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 11:27:35

Once a year you have to fill in paperwork, what's the big deal?

The big deal is not everyone is the same as those you have mentioned.

For the people who are too unwell to work, reapplying every year and worrying for weeks/months on end about the outcome that may well leave them with no money coming in is tortuous, unnecessary and detrimental to their physical and mental health.

Because even if that persons medical condition/symptoms/general health have not changed at all, at the stroke of a pen, they may be classified as fit to work when they are clearly not.

There are accounts of people that had the above outcome even though they were still unwell/disabled, the person I know was last year put into the work related activity group despite being no better and if anything, worse than when she first claimed ESA. she, on appeal like many others was then put into the support group.

Yes many people with disabilities do work, often with the financial support that DLA gives, but many more are not able to.

The person I know used to have a very well paid job and would dearly love to be well enough to return to work. Words on a letter from DWP won't cure her though.

It is a big deal because it is your lifeline hanging in the balance.

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 11:30:48

Such decisions are made by people who are not medically qualified and who often know nothing about the condition of the claimant and who seem to ignore medical eveidence.

So it isn't just a case of fill in a form and you'll be ok.

piratecat Mon 22-Apr-13 11:32:41

ESA is there for people who can't work or need help getting into work. It's not a case of it being a bother to fill in a form, it's the fact that nothing you answer in the form is read properly. The ESA system is failing, and it wants people to fail their medicals, in the way it is written, in the way the decision maker applies points.

There are thousands of ill and vulnerable people who can't work, and are fighting a system that is not there to help them, but to trip them up.

Should you try to get ESA, you would face this system.

ItsYoniYappy Mon 22-Apr-13 11:34:12

I've been advised by people with PTSD to ask for a psychiatrist as they prescribe, I did ask but was advised I needed to do CBT with a psychologist. Which I have done. PTSD is still here, worse than ever. I have some floaty music to relax to, told to relax, no idea how to relax.

Appointment with Welfare Rights tomorrow. I've been reading around and some people say the appeal is more like a court setting and they will ignore welfare rights person and talk to me.

Gah!

ItsYoniYappy Mon 22-Apr-13 11:37:14

Believe me Sarah I would love to work, I have zero life right now.

My father is also unwell but can work, believe me I get told to 'pull myself together' every week, so thanks but your comment is very unhelpful

Sarah0378 Mon 22-Apr-13 11:57:59

And the benefits are there to help you if you genuinely can't work, but a lot of people can and claim them anyway. So if people have to reapply every year then that will hopefully separate the ones whose circumstances have changed and no longer need them, meaning there will be more money in the pot for people like you who really do need them.

Or would it be more helpful if I were to be outraged that the country is trying to get a handle on the out of control spending, because if it carries on there will be no money for anyone.

When big changes happen it takes a little bit of time to smooth out the problems and fine tune it but I really think that long term this has to happen. It is for the benefit of people that will need help in the future this is happening. Too many people have, and continue to claim when they don't need to and that is why the whole system has to be reviewed.

JackieOHHH Mon 22-Apr-13 12:35:26

I kind of see where you're coming from sarah but it's really not helpful
There are still many, many people claiming DLA who don't need it, but seem to know how to beat the system,and reapplying every year wouldn't make a jot of difference. If you know the loopholes, then you're laughing.

pirate ask to see anyone who will know abut your condition, perhaps ( and I've done this too) research wherein the country there is a consultant who is dedicated to your illness.
I'm in the north of England but have travelled to Birmingham purely for this.( top ENT consultant in the country)
You need constant backing, not to just see someone, get your letter, then go away again for a year or 2, it's NO hardship to them to see you every so often, even with no change, it's helps to keep YOU in their MIND.

BreconBeBuggered Mon 22-Apr-13 13:58:34

As I understand it, it's not simply a question of re-applying, or doing a bit of paperwork once a year. If your ESA award was contribution-based, the benefit will stop after 12 months and you can only qualify again once you have paid enough NI contributions. Which will be difficult if even ATOS acknowledge that you're unlikely to be fit enough to return to work, as in the OP's case. I'd love some indication that I'm wrong about this, as a close relative is in a similar situation and has no idea how they'll survive on her partner's income when her benefit payments stop.

hewedvoices Mon 22-Apr-13 14:13:10

Yes, that's how I understand it Brecon. I was on income-based ESA and that was stopped when I moved in with DH as he was suddenly expected to 'keep' me. We're fortunate that he has a good job so we can manage on his salary though, and luckily I still get my DLA.

I've always been on income-based ESA as I didn't have enough contributions to claim the other type. But apparently, if I'd been on contributions-based ESA, I could have continued to get ESA regardless of DH's salary.

It's a horrible position to be in, to be completely dependent on your partner, and it's a heavy burden for them too. DH is brilliantly supportive and doesn't pressure me to work as he knows it would be too much for me, but I can't help feeling guilty sometimes. And for those who don't already have partners, it must be much harder to find someone to have a cohabiting relationship or marry, as they'd be expected to support you as soon as you start living together. I even lost my child tax credits based on DH's salary, although they're not his dc. My friends who are on income support (as single parents) are in the same position - it's really a sexist, old-fashioned view of relationships where the ill or destitute lone parents are expected to find a nice man to take on their children and look after them hmm

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 14:35:53

Sarah that is a very simplistic view of what is happening and its the view that the government want people to have.

The reality of what is happening is quite different though.

The main point seems to be 'if you are genuine you have nothing to worry about' which is really not the case.

There has been mass propaganda to influence the public into thinking that benefit claimant with disabilities/long term sickness = fraudster/slacker/malingerer.

That is both untrue and unfair.

The aim of the gov is to cut the disability welfare bill by 20 or 25% [I forget which exactly] yet by their own admission the fraud rate is only 0.7% so clearly, there will be some genuinely sick and disabled people who will lose vital support, people who are unable to work/work without support.

You are fortunate in that despite having a disability, you are still able to work, should your condition change for the worse and work becomes impossible, you will be jumping through the same hoops as the people on this thread are currently.

If you really think that 'the benefits are there to help you if you genuinely can't work' then all I will say is, I wish you luck and good health, because things are changing and not for the better.

piratecat Mon 22-Apr-13 14:39:05

Sarah. we would prob all agree that change to stop money going to the wrong person is a good thing.

you are not seeing or reading the point here. the new system is making it so that many ill people are getting nothing. not just people who you think are probably scroungers.
i was shocked and disgusted when i started to look into the cases where people had been totally ignored on their forms.

piratecat Mon 22-Apr-13 14:40:53

amber you put it better.

AmberLeaf Mon 22-Apr-13 15:03:21

Thank you smile

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