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To appeal esa, work related activity group?

18 replies

ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 09:18

My sister has been changed from the social care group to work related activity at her esa review.

I don't think it's totally wrong in that she'd like to have training, BUT it puts her at massive risk of sanctions. She has an IQ of 70, v poor reading, no central vision (can't read maps) and is deaf. She has sod all change of organising herself to get to appointments and working out how to get to them! (I took her to esa interview). She doesn't even understand the letter, shoved it through my door. I'm going to have to ring and explain and she'll want to know more. It's horrible but I'll end up totally reliant, on top of a job and three kids (one with Sen), of trying to mange her to avoid sanctions. I don't want to! She won't be able to read the appointment letters, get key info from phone calls or understand and naviagate the journeys. She also is scared of transport and is known to walk 10miles+ to avoid it, often resulting from needing collection.

Has anyone been through this?

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ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 09:20

Also she's not massively local to add to the stress, it's already a big thing to make sure she eats/ pays bills/ sort out odd jobs/ neighbour issues etc.

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Dowser · 05/07/2017 10:20

This is so sad and so wrong. I'd be onto local councilllors, mp , doctor, social services, anyone who would listen.
Surely as have a duty of care to your sister.

It's only your job if you want to take it on.

Impress on anyone that will listen that she must not be allowed to slip through the net.


ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 11:49

What annoys me is the state forcing aspect of work, we have worked bloody hard to support her as a family. Tried entry level college everything, local charity shop work experience, written CVs... really have tried it all. And failed.

No charity shop for example can long term manage someone who has such poor communication skills, inability to organise or learn. It requires them to basically employ someone to supervise her! In addition to her inability to organise getting there alone... everywhere has had to (quite fairly) stop

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coronalover · 05/07/2017 11:56

I suggest appealing the decision. Go to a local advice agency/CAB for help to do this. They can help you and you Dsis get the evidence you need. You are right to be concerned about sanctions, they get slapped on quick! Good luck


unweavedrainbow · 05/07/2017 12:09

Right. I do welfare advice. She needs to put in a Mandatory Reconsideration-details of how to do so will be on the letter, but be mindful that they do have to be in pretty sharpish. It's also explained here how to challenge an ESA decision It is best to do these in writing, as you can refute the DWP's arguments better that way. Did she have a WCA? You need to request the assessment report if so. Sometimes they're of shockingly poor quality and an appeal can be based on the poverty of the assessment.
Do you understand how ESA works? Entry to the Support Group is granted not through points but through descriptors. The list of descriptors is here: support group descriptors From what it sounds like she ought to meet the support group descriptors for "learning tasks" and "initiating personal actions". If she was in the support group before what descriptor did she meet? You have to show that her needs/situation haven't changed and therefore she still meets that descriptor. Does she get any support in the community? They might be able to help-and, also, the DWP will be looking for LD/MH support. If she gets day to day support then arguing that she isn't able to work will hold more traction. Do you have any evidence to show how much she struggles? I understand how hard it can be to get evidence together for lifelong disabilities like this. Does she get DLA/PIP? This can work both ways-you should use any evidence from DLA/PIP to show that she can't manage basic self care but also, be aware that a reduction in ESA can trigger a PIP reassessment (although with longer PIP awards this is far less likely).
I feel like I'm rambling now but I do hope I can help.


ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 12:11

That's massively helpful!

I think this is her first interview/ report ever. I don't remember her going to anything before, she just moved over from the old system. Is that possible?

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ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 12:15

She has dla. She has moved out of supported housing and prior to that inpatient mh a few years back... to more family support (not in relation to needs, she has social difficulties and didn't heed curfews/ wanted a relationship). She hasn't had much support following a complaint regarding a social worker/ supported housing referrring her to a (terrifying!) debt collection agency when dual housing benefit wasn't applied for (they gave her the form to fill in, didn't tell us, didn't help her... as is aid she can't read). Been a nightmare few years, she has quite big social difficulties and is on and off asked to stay away from the disability support group

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ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 12:19

Read descriptors... they don't exactly match those skills that employers want!

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ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 12:27

It's tricky, learning tasks: she can for example set an alarm clock that is hers. She doesn't translate late this though to following a whole sequence of them in a set time to get somewhere, e.g. She locks herself out a lot, will leave in season inappropriate clothing and then not know how to resolve or get on the wrong bus and get totally lost or freak out when looked at, run away and get lost etc.

2 personal actions, well she can cook a few simple meals, e.g. Plain pasta and open a packet of ham. She can't prioritise or retain, e.g. Sent to stock room in charity shop, sits on floor and cries, asked for help by customer, leaves through front door and leaves till, drops stock on floor. Can't read training info, argues a lot with staff as she misreads situations and gets lost on way... has the same short conversation all day over and over until staff complain etc

Only a fraction of issues, but it hasn't translated to a job even with a hell of a lot of prior quality support. It's just run me down.

It would result in sanctions, e.g. Gets lost on way to interview, sits in wrong building, doesn't tell staff she can't write CV and just sits there, sits scared in flat alone as scared of going. When the debt collectors threatened to visit she slept outside in fear, which gives you an idea of where she is on coping. She can superficially cope with routine day to day, but not apply it all

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unweavedrainbow · 05/07/2017 14:08

It does sound like she should be in the support group. As for the descriptors, how does she cope with change? You say she has "social difficulties", is she ever aggressive or inappropriate? In terms of "2 personal actions" that means, for example, showering and then getting dressed in appropriate clothing or dressing in appropriate clothing and leaving the house on time. Lots of people with MH problems or LDs can complete 1 personal action and then get "stuck" and don't follow through, like they shower but don't get dressed and so sit there naked. Cooking pasta and then adding ham is really only one personal action (cooking). Can she safely cook or does she ever do dangerous things? Activities, like cooking, have to be able to be done "reliably" as well-the mantra is "reliably, safely, in a timely fashion and as often as needed". What that means is that it's not enough that she can manage something sometimes but that she has to be able to manage it most of the time, if not always. She appears, at face value, to meet lots of support group descriptors so it's just about showing this to the DWP.

If she hasn't had a WCA before but got ESA it's possible that she was placed in the support group under the "dangerous in the work place" exemption. The rules for this have just been massively tightened up so that's maybe why she was WCAd. Did she take anyone to the WCA? My worry is that sometimes people with LDs are asked by the assessors whether or not they can do something but the questions are phrased in such a way that the person with LDs answers that they can without that actually being the case. For example, the assessor might ask if they can set an alarm clock and the person with LDs, thinking that they know how to set their own alarm clock answers that they can. This is then taken without question by the DWP and the claimant doesn't get that descriptor. The thing is, the descriptor actually means any random alarm clock with reasonably simple settings and they need to be able to learn how to set it "cold", pretty quickly and without that much help. Lots of people with LDs could set their own alarm clock but still fulfil the descriptor, iyswim. Is it possible that she told the assessor what she thought they wanted to hear? Misunderstanding what the descriptors actually mean and wanting to please the assessor can lead to really inaccurate reports.

The debt collection agency thing sounds really scary. Does she not get any help at all now?


ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 22:47

We drift back to family support. She attends disabilities events and social groups for contact but I haven't heard from her social worker etc in years. Everything was such a fight, or didn't happen we let it drift. She has a boyfriend with a similar level of need in next village and they also provide support daily to them both, e.g. Main meal etc.

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ClusterBustering · 05/07/2017 22:49

Thank you for explaining the descriptions, it will help a lot. She cannot for example assist my 5yr old with a Lego junior small set, he is more able (yet quite average) on the instructions and spatial awareness.

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Akire · 05/07/2017 22:57

I would appeal, there no way ever she could be safe or trusted to carry out basic job from the sounds of it. What would she do if was left alone in shop or office and something happened? Would she need constant supervision to not get lost or burn self on kettle or move around a site.

One descriptor for Support group is if working would have a negative effect on their health, physical or metal. She obviously is just facing sanction after sanction just being in work group never mind an actual job. Who hell they think will employ anyone who can't cope I don't know. Yet it's disabled person who get pushinsed for not coping


AlmostAJillSandwich · 05/07/2017 22:57

I had to appeal incapacity benefit decision before it became ESA, not sure if it is the same procedure now, but what you want is to ask for is a re evaluation.
I had an appeal, got turned down. It turns out the appeals are looked at by civil servants who DON'T have the power to change a decision or add extra points on to your score, all they could do (back in 2009) was check the points i had scored according to the interview, had been added up correctly.

We had to actually get all my evidence re evaluated by a different assessor, who awarded more points and i did qualify.
I've not had a review since the change over because my illness isn't something with a prognosis of improving, so i don't know if things are still done the same, but make sure you ask for an actual assessor to look at the evidence, not just a recount of points scored.


Akire · 05/07/2017 22:59

Have a look and benefits and work website some good forums and guidance. You do have pay small fee to join but well worth the evidence and up to date information.


CurbsideProphet · 05/07/2017 23:11

I would strongly recommend finding a local service that will support you through the Mandatory Reconsideration and appeal ie. Welfare Rights. Best of luck. What a nightmare for you, but sadly I hear similar stories often.


Domino20 · 05/07/2017 23:14

Appeal, it's a lot of work but a huge number of appeals are upheld. There are 3 stages so don't be disheartened if it seems that you are being unsuccessful. Keep going, it's only the judge at the last stage of appeal who is truly independent of the system. It's loads of bullshit and hard work (2 and a half years personal experience). Your sister is very lucky to have you, it's such a shame that you are burdened with this the system SUCKS. GOOD LUCK.


tinytemper66 · 05/07/2017 23:18

I appealed on behalf of my son and it was overturned. It was a mandatory appeal I think it was called. My GP wrote a letter stating my son was unsuitable for work.

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