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Face-to-face assessment

(32 Posts)
GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Wed 20-Apr-16 04:14:14

I hope this in the correct place, please let me know if not.

I've been unable to work for over a year now. Severe arthritis meaning I struggle to do even the most basic things like opening doors, picking things up. I was living off my savings for almost a year as I didn't want to be a burden but it got to the point I couldn't support myself anymore.

So I applied for benefits, I feel so bad even doing that, but they wouldn't let me go for jobseekers as I can't hold a pen to sign on. I'm on one called ESA and that meant I could get some housing benefit too. It's completely saved my life as without I would be on the streets right now (I'm single with no kids, former nanny). I also have so many issues to do with the illness, I can't cook or go shops often plus bad depression and complete inability to exercise, some days unable to leave my bed without being in agony, all leading to me gaining a ton of weight (5'2 and 19stone currently) . All my fault obviously, not throwing blame, just very difficult to eat healthy when your mind is full of pain and money is tight.

Now they want me to go for a face-to-face assessment and I am freaking out. If they don't believe me I'll lose my home. If on that day I can't walk.... I'm trying to scrape together enough money to get the bus there but I don't know if I can, they say they will reimburse travel but only with a ticket so I can't use my old oyster which I put money on when I was healthier, and working.

I don't know where to go or ask but I remember people on this site being helpful and I'm hoping someone may have done one of these assessments and can give me any details. I'm so worried they won't believe me, I know the government is all about money saving so they could just deny the money. I'll have to go on a bus to get there which is just terrifying as I can't hold on and if no seats I'll fall, it happened last time I took a bus.

If anyone has any knowledge please share, I don't have anyone to talk to or anything. I'm 34 by the way.

BigGreenOlives Wed 20-Apr-16 04:57:13

That sounds really challenging. I don't have any thing to add advice wise but I hope this bumps your request up so someone with experience can help.

andthenthereweretwo Wed 20-Apr-16 20:56:08

Face to face assessment for ESA? Have you applied for PIP? Im a PIP assessor and happy to talk through the assessment.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Thu 21-Apr-16 16:00:45

thanks but I don't know what PIP is sorry, I don't know the system at all. Right now I was allowed ESA and housing benefit that's it, I don't know anything else about benefits. This is the first time I've ever used benefits.

HeyMacWey Thu 21-Apr-16 16:06:36

Do you have a copy of your original claim form? It's called an esa50.

Mine only asked me about 5 questions - mainly about what I couldn't do, how the illness affected my day to day living and what medication I was on.

Mine reimbursed my travel without a receipt.

Have you got someone to go with you?

You can also ask for it to be recorded - this is useful if you have to appeal.

HeyMacWey Thu 21-Apr-16 16:08:00

You can also ask for a home assessment but will need your gp to support this.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Sat 23-Apr-16 13:36:37

hi thanks for the replies. I don't think I still have the form but I'll look. Where the assessment will be is only maybe 20 mins by car but as I don't own one it'll be 4 busses to get there- I just can't afford it.I don't have anyone to go with me, I don't have anyone at all in my life.

I'm getting more and more worried about this. It's bad enough knowing my Dr note runs out in July so I lose benefits then I think, they said they could only do it temporary. I'm trying my hardest to stay afloat for now but I think I'll lose my home then.

HeyMacWey Sat 23-Apr-16 15:57:01

Can you call your cab or arthritis UK to see if there is anyone who can advocate for you?

Your doctor can issue another sick note in July.

Your local council may have a welfare advise clinic /help line too.

HeyMacWey Sat 23-Apr-16 15:58:38

Can you phone up and see if there's another appt at a venue nearer to you?

You're allowed to reschedule once before they do your benefits.

HeyMacWey Sat 23-Apr-16 16:00:27

Benefitsandwork.co.uk is a useful website too.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Sun 24-Apr-16 00:36:49

Thanks for that site, I took a look and now I'm even more worried. All of the questions ask if I need help doing things, I don't have anyone at all so I have to make do. I only get food with no prep- chocolate mainly as I can tear the wrappers on a day when my hands are good then eat later. I only go shop every two weeks or so as I struggle to walk and struggle even more to carry things home.

Maybe I'm cheeking the system too much asking for this. I just wish I could work again I miss it so much. I loathe every part of my life and this money was the only thing keeping me going. I'm now sure I'll be denied and end up on the streets as there isn't any other option i can see now.

AndNowItsSeven Sun 24-Apr-16 00:41:25

Claim pip it's a disability be benefit that can be claimed in addition to ESA or even if you don't qualify for ESA. You can claim if you are working or unemployed.

AndNowItsSeven Sun 24-Apr-16 00:43:03

Whereabouts in the country are you goldilocks?

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Sun 24-Apr-16 00:44:36

I'm near London, and not working. For almost 18 months now sadly

AndNowItsSeven Sun 24-Apr-16 00:47:04

I was hoping you were local but I am in the North west. I also have arthritis among other conditions. I claim pip but not ESA as my dh works.
I don't know much about ESA but any pip questions I can answer.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Sun 24-Apr-16 00:53:08

Oh thankyou so much, I didn't even know it existed til someone said on this thread. I only claimed anything as my savings ran out so I went for JSA as it's the only one I'd heard of, but they refused me even appllying once i got to the jobcentre as I couldnt sign the screen thing and can barely walk. They told me ESA and when I interviewed for that they said try housing benefit too. I was allowed part of my rent which along with the ESA covers almost all of my rent, then the remnants of my savings go to bills and food if i can afford.

I also suffer a lot with depression but I don't know if that's taken seriously. Between being in severe pain all the time and depressed I don't leave the house unless I have to which is tough. I'm seeing a counceller once a week, as I have a bit of money left on my pre-illness oyster.

MatildaTheCat Sun 24-Apr-16 13:49:55

I have had face to face assessments for ESA and PIP. Both times the assessor so were essentially going through the forms I'd completed. It's very important to try to find or remember what you wrote ( I did mine on a word document) so you are consistant. You do have to repeat yourself a lot.

Don't assume they know anything so for example, getting washed and dressed: you have to manage because you live alone but cannot get in the bath, washing your hair is painful, cannot wash or dry your feet, need to rest before dressing. Then you may need help with socks and shoes, wear loose clothes. You may not shower every day due to pain and fatigue. Say so. Describe your bad days. You eat crap because it's easier even though you know it isn't helping. And so on.

They are likely to ask you to describe a day. Be detailed. If, for example they ask do you watch tv or films they may say that you can sit comfortably for two hours so be careful.

If at all possible take someone with you. My friend carried my bag, helped me on and off the couch and held my stick etc. It helps demonstrate your needs.

Ask if you need more help. I was placed in the work related group for ESA so get nothing other than my NI contributions paid. I got higher rate PIP, though for which I am eternally grateful. It's a very steep learning curve so take advice. The website mentioned above is very good.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Sun 24-Apr-16 14:10:05

Many thanks for the reply. I honestly can't remember what I put on the form, in order to be able to write coherently I take lots of painkillers and drink some wine it's the only way I can hold a pen. and since then my symptoms have got a lot worse, when i did it i had fewr issues with my shoulders and now i cant wash my hair at all i cant reach up.

really wish I had someone to go with but i dont know anyone at all. i have no family near me, no friends, i havent spoken to anyone non-professional in well over a year.

the site looks very useful but unfortunatly requires a fee of 20 ounds which sadly i cant afford. and im saving for a stick, it would help me so much to vbe able to use the toiletand hold myself up but im not sure where i could buy.

oh gosh i may cancel it all this is too much mentally im already terrified of getting the bus

AndNowItsSeven Sun 24-Apr-16 15:00:31

Goldilocks I have pm'd you.

HeyMacWey Sun 24-Apr-16 15:11:49

You also have to be able to do something safely, repeatedly and timely - this is important. If you can't then you say no.

I'm sure I've got some word docs that might be useful somewhere that I can email you if you pm me your email address

Do they have any local arthritis support groups or Facebook groups? They might have people who can act as a buddy for you.

I think you need to speak to your gp and request a home assessment and get on with applying for pip. You will definitely score points for what you've described above.

andthenthereweretwo Mon 25-Apr-16 19:44:10

Please refer yourself to the local occupational therapy service with your council for home assessment-they can provide equipment for free.

GoldilocksAndTheThreePears Mon 25-Apr-16 19:54:28

occupational therapy? I'm not sure what that is but i will find info thankyou

joeythenutter Mon 25-Apr-16 20:18:06

Do you mind me asking do you feel like you could do any type of work at all??

joeythenutter Mon 25-Apr-16 20:24:03

I have been through an esa assessment. If you go by bus, they will presume that you are able to travel and therefore able to go to work. If you go on your own, walk up the steps unaided and respond to the reception calling your name etc, they will presume you are mentally able to take on a job. If I were you, I would request a home visit. Your GP will have to write a letter to say why you need one, if they know how you suffer and how your illnesses affect you then this hsould be no problem. A home visit would be less stressful for you, show how you live, and you could take your time and answer.

HeyMacWey Mon 25-Apr-16 20:41:53

Are you under a rheumatologist?

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