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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

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:38:09

this is the problem.

their own work capability assessment is shit, the people at atos fill in your answers on a computer generated programm. things therefore that are applicable to you get lost in this transference of info from this medical, into the system.

then, it's like chinese whispers, as THAT report then gets condensed, and a Decision maker makes decisions base on some stuff that quite frankly looks made up or not even about you.

We know why. So that people get no points. So that they have to be subjected to such strain that they don't bother appealing.

Then people are going to their gp's, or consultants, and asking for letters. The gp's havent got time. Well some do make time, many don't want to, and some charge, whereas others don't.

Then you have to start looking elsewhere for help, for someone to say yes you are ill. Most ill people, struggle to get through every day. They don't have social workers, or know anything about welfare officers, but they have to strt contacting strangers who are inundated with requests for help.

Then the appeal. Which could take months and months. Thousands of backdated cases. It's costing the public millions more than was spent on Incap in the first place.

Yes to weeding out the spongers who yu see on tv doing the lawn mowing whilst claiming DLA. But not like this. It's not working, and it's pushing ill people to the limit.

You don't get hassled like this on JSA, yes there are sanctions, but you could well be well enough to keep up with the system. Those on ESA or DLA are predominantly ill, and then they have to prove it to the 9th degree.

Oh and this all takes so long that even if they are given the benefit they are entitled too, they are getting a new claim form in the post only weeks later, cos their initial claim is up.

So they go to another atos medical, and they are found fit for work.

then it starts again.

what the fuck.

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:40:52

crap bag and riffy it makes me so angry

i have been crying for days. online trying to look for help, for advice. not sleeping.

my ESA85 is a joke (the assessment). full of rubbish.

joanofarchitrave Thu 18-Apr-13 21:46:01

Look, I agree with your post, but please, please don't talk about spongers. Don't talk about being able to mow the lawn while claiming DLA. It is perfectly possible to be eligible for DLA while still able to do some things, including work, and even mowing the lawn. Perhaps that person is able to mow the lawn because they are not working. Perhaps that person is working and claiming DLA, as DLA is not related to work status, nor is it about health, but about disability and the extra costs of that.

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:48:57

i didn't mean to generalise sorry.

i can mow the lawn. i was just picking out a scenario in my head.

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:50:33

ESA and DLA are different i know. x

just pissed off. single parent no support and worried. bah

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 21:52:22

thats the problem. it's about what boxes you tick.

and even if you tick them it doesn't matter. then they ask for letters from gp's and don't take them into account either.

sorry x

joanofarchitrave Thu 18-Apr-13 21:54:59

i'm sorry for snapping as well. a bit fraught with it all. i do agree with your post x

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 22:04:56

thing is i knew nothing two weeks ago of what i wrote in my post.

it's shocked me beyond, and i have been so unwell the last two weeks culminating in this breakdown at the weekend. i have never felt so bad.

I am sorry it's taken you down too. You just think, i am not well, i'll pop along to the medical and tell them the truth. Like before.Then this.


SodaStreamy Thu 18-Apr-13 22:23:31

piratecat.........have you spoken to your GP about your breakdown?

If not would it be an idea to make an appointment with them?

Just worried you are trying to cope with this alone

piratecat Thu 18-Apr-13 22:27:10

yes i spoke to her yesterday. has upped my meds. she's a bit wishy washy. i have another pre booked appt with her next wednesday. i made that appt two weeks ago, to discuss my health. she saw two weeks ago i was upset, i broke down in the consulting room.

thankyou for your concern. x

CrapBag Fri 19-Apr-13 10:10:11

So who should I be contacting for supporting evidence? I thought they meant a statement from my doctor, who I don't even see about it really as there is no point, apart from my taking Gabapentin to help me sleep (which also helps with my siatica).

I have no idea who is suppose to help. I don't see any consultants or anyone at the hospital. I saw a neurologist once who told me I had only been referred because my GP was female and a male wouldn't have bothered to refer me, he told me I was just depressed (at the time I wasn't). Then I saw a psychiatrist who told me I wasn't depressed and it was CFS. I was relieved but that was that and this was years ago when I was first getting diagnosed. 6 years ago I had group sessions with an OT but it was about learning about the condition so you can manage it better.

I have had nothing and my GP (different from the one who diagnosed me) had never said anything about referring me to anyone, but she helps me manage the symptoms as there isn't really anything else you can do with ME./CFS.

piratecat Fri 19-Apr-13 10:20:15

crapbag, i don't know the answer. I am in the same situation.

I hope JackieOoh comes back to the thread, she has knowledge.

From what i have read, a letter of support can come from someone who knows you as well as professionals. Which in itself is odd really, as we have seen here that a letter from Riffy's gp was discounted because of wording.

where are you in your claim again, sorry i am knackered. x

piratecat Fri 19-Apr-13 10:25:16

to get into the support group you don't have to get points, but you must satisfy one of a list of separate descriptors. will try to find.

On Incap, you were treated as separate income from the spouse, but on the ESA contirbution based they have changed it which is very unfair.

CrapBag Fri 19-Apr-13 23:15:02

I am at the stage where I have been put in the WRAG, I wrote asking them to review their decision and they said they hadn't changed their minds, now I am gathering stuff together to appeal. I have kept a diary of my days, although its only about 5 days long as not DS is back at school, my days are very typical so I will just do a day about that. I have written to my doctor asking for a supporting letter, I have contacted some thing for people with long term illnesses (don't know if its a group/charity or whatever) in my area and someone said they can come to my house next week and help with my appeal, maybe they can do a supporting statement but then they don't actually know me.

Where are you in this piratecat? It really does suck that they are doing this to us. I certainly would never vote for this government and they are alienating such a part of society in their crusade.

piratecat Sat 20-Apr-13 09:30:22

crapbag have you actually sent off an appeal form. it has to be done within 28 days of their decision.

you can put the basics on the form, its the GL24.

I have done that, and I had to request on that form to be put on assessment rate. (the same as amoutn as JSA)Now trying to gather further support, but am unsure if I can send it in to them to go with my appeal form. or whether to just take it along on hearing day.

Are you sending extra stuff in?

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Sat 20-Apr-13 09:45:51

I am going through this too. Really feel for all the others in this position; I went to see my GP yesterday and tried to hold it together but the thing is, all the stress of being able to keep a roof over ds' and my head is stopping me from sleeping and eating now.

piratecat Sat 20-Apr-13 10:01:57

I totally understand where you are right now. hugs to you.

we can all help each other here. i started a thread about my breakdown last week, but i should have ESA in the title, and now luckily Crapbag, did one about her terrible situation which has opened up this topic.

I have to go offline today, but will be back later. Feel free to pm me. x

ItsOkayItsJustMyBreath Sat 20-Apr-13 10:07:13

I lost my appeal to be placed back into the support group, where I was until ATOS decided differently which just happened to be after the government brought in new rules.

I live in fear of someone saying I have to find a job as, as much as I would love to go back to work, I cannot. It is something that I have had to learn to accept (I feel such a useless person in society) and this has now made me worse.

Just because you have a mental illness, it doesn't mean you are not ill.

ItsYoniYappy Sat 20-Apr-13 10:38:15

Yeah I'm going through this too (as pirate cat knows)

I have PTSD, just now I am in a state of hyper-vigilance (awake every 2 hours checking the room, jumping at the slightest noise and my mind racing so fast I cannot even read a bloody book, or even a large post on here with no paragraphs tbh) and the only way for it to go is to relax. I also have PTSD related tinnitus, so sleeping is only done by popping a pill every night to switch my head off from thinking. I have done so much googling I dream of PTSD and appeals and men with wigs on.

My appeal is on the 2nd, my GP advised me to go see CAB, they forwarded my papers to Welfare Rights, I had an appointment for appeal but it was a Saturday and couldn't face it alone so asked for more time.

Welfare rights are coming out to me again next week, I still have no idea how I will even get to the appeal as welfare rights meet me at the building of appeal. hmm

You need your Doctor or anyone else you see regularly to help you with letters or evidence you are unwell (why the sick line isn't enough angry I don't know) I don't even know if I have one of mine as I haven't got round to going out to the centre to get it hmm I have one from my Therapist.

I made the mistake of dressing nice, doing my hair and makeup whilst waiting on a taxi paid for DWP/ATOS to my medical, this lost me my claim. I also couldn't take anyone as my mum was watching my DC, and tbh I don't talk to her about PTSD as to her it doesn't exist, this lost me points.

You have to show them you on a bad day. Your absolute worst day. For piratecat that may have been the last few days, how humiliating is it sitting crying in front of people? No-one wants to do that but if you want your benefits you have to.

Tbh I didn't have this, at my medical I was anxious but not like this. The only person I would wish this on is my X.

On the consumer websites you are advised to appeal the decision for this group and try get to the support group but I cannot see me appealing and appealing, it would make me unwell all the time.

JackieOHHH Sun 21-Apr-13 16:00:46

Hi, OP I understand about affording to join benefits and work, it seems a lot, but I PROMISE you it's worth it. It really is.
If you follow their guides and go through forms step by step then it helps, immensely.
Any report from your GP would be dismissed anyway, so don't stress about that, it seems atos think your GP will write anything to support you and it's all lies ( to them),
Have you got a consultant? Even if you don't see them? Who diagnosed you? Who sorts your meds?
When my consultant retired ( git!!) I panicked, as the other consultant there lost me my DLA years ago, by writing a load of crap and refusing to alter it, even though he'd not even MET ME!!!
So, I asked my GP for a referral to a bloody fab consultant in Leeds, and I saw him for a while, until a new one came at my home hospital, and now i see him.

You can ask your GP for a referral, to any consultant you like, perhaps ask around? Or google local hospitals for consultants who specialise in your area?
Yes it's leg work, but eventually you will find someone who will support you.

I've been going through all this for YEARS, I was diagnosed in feb 1998!!
I've got tricks and ideas you wouldn't believe, so if you want any help/ advice or support letme know.

By the way, by using benefits and work I was successful when my DLA was up for renewal. I'd been on high rate mob and mid rate care, they downgraded me to low rate mobility...but I won it back Ian very short space of time.
They also helped me go from incapacity to ESA, straight into the support group with no medical.

JackieOHHH Sun 21-Apr-13 16:06:26

Some points......
Never ask for a reconsideration, just go straight to appeal, as they reconsider as the first step of appeal anyway.
Don't fill out forms as is you're living your worst day every day as they just won't believe it. You have to stress how you struggle, how things make you hurt/ breathless/sick, but you've to say it in a certain way..
Eg " question....can you climb the stairs at home?
" I do go upstairs, but I have to stop a few times and sit & rest on the stairs, I get extremely breathless, and dizzy. I need someone with me to help and encourage me to carry on. I stop and rest at the top"
See? Yes I can climb the stairs...but it's not that straight forward. And that's the kind of thing they look for.

If you go to a tribunal, use your stick/ wheelchair, whatever aid you need.
Remember, they are watching you from the second you arrive in the car park, and yes, sadly, making yourself look nice will go against you!

Darkesteyes Sun 21-Apr-13 17:28:53

This makes my blood boil the way vulnerable ill people are treated. My DH has disabilities so i certainly know where you are coming from having gone through it.

But can we please please not have the divide and rule. You cant know for sure the ins and outs of whats going on with your neighbour.
Divide and rule is just what they want. Its why the Mail prints such scurrilous stories. Its why the Gov was so soft with the Leveson because lets face it this divide and rule rhetoric is coming from somewhere.
And its working. I had a disagreement with another carer on fb who called a single mum a scrounger.
Meanwhile the Gov and the right wing press are laughing so lets not assist them with the lack of compassion and ugly rhetoric.

CrapBag Sun 21-Apr-13 22:30:14

JackieOHHH yes any tricks or anything you have advice on would be greatly received. smile Your description of the stairs thing is very helpful as well, thanks.

I haven't sent my appeal form back yet. I thought I needed to gather evidence to send with it (no idea what though really) but actually I don't know if I do now. I have been waiting for my doctors letter, although I have heard nothing since I requested it, I was keeping a diary of my day to day activites so they could get a better idea, is this a good idea? I also have someone suppose to be coming to see me this week from a disabled group thing but I am waiting for him to get back to me. In the meantime the deadline for my appeal is getting closer, although last Friday I still had 3 weeks so I am giving myself 2 weeks from this Tuesday to send it in.

From reading some stuff on that work and benefits website, it seems like I can send the form back now telling them I am appealing then send on evidence later on, does anyone know if this is right?

I have already asked them to reconsider, when I phoned them they said I had to do this first before being allowed to appeal, they didn't change the decision.

From reading on that website, I think I may be able to argue that I cannot repeatedly mobilise 50 meters within a period of time or get them on the special circumstances rule, which I am fairly sure is what got me through to the WRAG without having a medical or anything in the first place. Something about having an effect on your physical or mental health if you had to attend work related activities. I feel that could be the one to work. I have been through all the other things that get you into the support group and I just don't think I fit their criteria.

Its interesting that the woman on the phone told me you can only get in the support group if you are terminally ill, somehow I didn't believe her.

CrapBag Sun 21-Apr-13 22:30:55

Also as this is in Chat, it will go after 3 months, shall I get it moved? Would this be a useful thread to keep?

CrapBag Sun 21-Apr-13 22:32:57

Also I had already heard about them judging the way you look when you turn up. I will turn up looking haggered and make sure I overdo it before, just so they can see. I don't use any walking aids though so this may not look great. I will have DH with me as well so I won't be strolling in on my own and I'll get him to drive, like I have done with my medicals before, I know they watch out the window and have cameras in the halls and stuff.

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