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ESA problems

Discussion in 'Social Security / Disability Benefits' started by TracyJN, Oct 20, 2011.

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  1. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    I started receiving ESA on 4th July and have now been on the benefit for nearly 16 weeks. I was told that within the first 13 weeks I would get a medical & if I passed the medical I would have an increase in the benefit and would no longer have to get sick notes from my GP.

    Now nearly 16 weeks on and no medical. Not even a date for a medical. I called the benefits people about this and they gave me the number for ATOS. I called ATOS and was told I should not have been given their number and they would get round to me eventually but they are very busy.

    This is all well and good but the benefit rate during what that call the "assessment period" is pretty low and I am struggling to make ends meet, even more so now with my son's 18th birthday coming up, followed by Christmas.

    Has anyone else had a similar problem with ATOS/Benefits Agency?
  2. keebler

    keebler Moderator

    Hi Tracy,

    I am sorry I can not help you.
    I am bumping your thread up so others can see it.
    I sure hope you get benefits you need.
  3. Ooohmekneeshurt

    Ooohmekneeshurt Registered

    Your 'rate' should go up after the first qualifing period, whether you have had your medical or not. ATOS are well behind in doing 'medicals' (and they are not medicals), but they should soon get to you. After which, and depending upon how you completed your original application form, you will be put into an ESA 'group'. Depending upon which 'group' you are in will depend how much benefit you get and if the DWP expect you to 1) look for a job; 2) attend job/work related interviews or possible training; 3) the Support Group - where you are not expected to do anything.
    I'd give the DWP a ring, or write, and let them know of your hardship, so that they automatically move you up to the higher rate. When you go for the 'medical' DONT be a hero, make sure you consider exactly what you are like on bad days. A lot of the questions they ask are evasive, because 'they' dont want you to give back a positive answer. Go with any evidence you have about each of your ailments, so they know your day to day problems, and your prognosis.
  4. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks for your help. I spoke to DWP and they said my rate will not go up until I have attended/passed a medical and it will be backdated then if necessary. I feel like a criminal every time I speak to them to be honest. This whole situation is getting me down now. :(
  5. pippa10

    pippa10 Registered

    Hi Tracy sorry to hear about your situation it's a very simular process hear.

    I hope it gets sorted out for you soon. Don't feel like a criminal when you worked you paid your dues it's not that you don't want to work it's a case of not being capable of working. Keep your chin up you have enough to deal with without being put under this type of stress.

    I wish we were all healthy enough to work I hate being sick and would love to be well enough to have a job, with extra cash, company of co-workers and the status that having a job gives.
  6. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks Pip, I really do miss the "social" side of working and the money! I don't miss the actual work though, I am not "well" by any stretch of the imagination but definitely better than when I was working. Only the other week when I had an awful chest infection, I was thankful not to be working and having to ring in sick every day, it is nice to have that pressure taken away.

    I still haven't heard anything from DWP. I had a chat with my union (I am still a member) and have, on their advice, started the wheels in motion to try to claim my pension early on medical grounds.
  7. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Just thought I would update you! I phoned ATOS and DWP again yesterday to complain and got nowhere, so I had one last try at ATOS this morning and actually managed to speak to someone helpful! They said all they could do was send an email (to whoever decides the order) and see if I could get an appointment more quickly. Couldn't believe it when I got a call around 6.30pm from ATOS to arrange an appointment for my medical!!! I am to go on Monday 21st November at 11.40.

    Very nervous after hearing and reading feedback from various people, including my GP! Anyone have any good advice for me please?
  8. keebler

    keebler Moderator

    Hi Tracy,
    I can not help you, I just want to wish you good luck on that appointment.
  9. lazylegs

    lazylegs Moderator

    Good luck Tracy.

  10. fairydust

    fairydust Registered

    Hi Tracy

    I just wanted to wish you luck with your appointment as i know how stressful these things can be. You may have already been on there but the Disability Alliance have some good information on the ESA assessment and points system. I wasn't sure if it was ok to post the link but i can if needs be.

    Michelle xx
  11. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks Lyn & Lazylegs, your support means a lot. :)

    Thanks Michelle, I looked up the Disability Alliance as you suggested and there was loads of good info. Thanks very much for the suggestion.

    I really am terrified. From the feedback I have been getting it really is tough to pass the medical and they don't take into account any info from your own GP.
  12. fairydust

    fairydust Registered

    You're welcome Tracy. I can only imagine how stressful this is.

    Will someone be going with you? I know that when my brother had to go i went with him (he suffers from really bad anxiety) and the doctor seemed to take note of the fact that he obviously needed someone with him. I think anyone suffering a chronic illness has a tendancy to underplay their illness so maybe just think about how you are on your very worst day and write down the things you struggle to do and how much you need to sleep etc. I know with the latter it takes me a while to convince people that i really can sleep 20 hours a day or more when i'm feeling bad. My boyfriend has only just got his head around it after witnessing my 'coma' sleep for the last 18 months lol! So it might be worth asking your husband or son for anything they've observed as you might have got so used to it that you just live with it. This is such a difficult illness to describe and we don't fit into convenient boxes on forms.

    Try not to worry too much and remember we're all here to support you.

    Michelle xx
  13. Jessica1

    Jessica1 Moderator

    Hi Tracy
    As you know I don't know anything about this issue but wanted to say 'well done you' for persisting and getting your appointment through. It's a shame that it takes such effort and chasing up to get the results you need though. All the best for your appointment; I know you'll be well prepared by the time you get there, I'll be thinking of you x
  14. KitKat

    KitKat Registered

    Hi Tracey,

    I used to support people applying for benefits and now I am reaching the point that I cannot work anymore I suddenly find the experience much more nerve racking so I totally get how you feel when you are talking about being made to feel a criminal (The media and politicians attitudes add to the perception as well!) and the stress of having to admit to someone how difficult I am finding things when I constantly try and think the best and keep going.

    I agree with fairydust Michelle try and make sure you have someone to go with you. If possible a professional or voluntary organisation that support people everyday as they will have a better idea of what the meeting will contain, ways to answer questions, things to prepare etc. Many local areas have disability charities so give them a google and see what you find either that or go for the citizen's advice bureau even if they cant help they should know someone who can. If you can't find a professional take someone who can give you a hug at the end. Explaining how poorly you are takes an emotional toal and ATOS personal can be (not always) officious or come across patronising so someone to give you a hug at the end is always nice.

    The reason they don't take much notice of doctors info is that they are not interested in your diagnosis but what you can do so it can be helpful for you to make a diary of the things you have struggled with in the week previous to the appointment - not necessarily to take with you but so that you have in mind the real state of your health and what your body can manage.

    Try and find a list of the criteria just googling esa criteria came up with loads (I would give you a specific site but the forum security wont let me!) Then spend some time going through the criteria and see how you would answer each of them and what examples you can give.

    ATOS Staff (Please note as far as I am aware they are not necessarily doctors they just need some kind of medical knowledge such as previously being a nurse, healthcare assistants, Dr in another country etc) dont tend to ask straight questions such as Can you walk 100 metres? they are more likely to ask, Did you manage to park in the car park? The ATOS guy will know the carpark is 150metres away so therefore you can walk more than 100 metres if you parked there. So make sure you answer questions fully and honestly. If the day you go is a good day and so you did walk that far answer something like -Yeah I did in fact I'm having a good day today but yesterday I couldn't even walk the 5 metres from the front door to my car. Or if you didn't walk it make sure you make that clear, 'My partner found a parking space fine after he dropped my at the door because I can't walk that far. Another classic is asking about hobbies - if you like certain sports there will be an assumption that either you are well enough to play them or at least well enough to concentrate and sit still for a whole game. If this isn't the case explain it for example, I love tennis but the pain I have when sitting means that I can only watch matches on the TV at home now so that I can get up and walk around every 5 mins / I love to read but I struggle to concentrate so much now I find myself reading the same page over and over again etc. Make sure you expand on everything and make things as clear as possible so the ATOS guy knows exactly what you mean.

    Finally, taking all that into account some people pass and fail for no known reason (I have been with a man in a wheelchair with MS who has failed but in the same week another man with relatively minor ailments passed) but the appeal process is a lot fairer. As far an I am aware this takes into account Dr's notes, the report written by the ATOS guy and your appeal letter and there is something like 75% of fails are overturned at appeal. Lets hope you dont have to go there but if you do we will be there for you.

    I wish you all the best. Praying that you get a good, caring and fair ATOS guy.
    Please let us know how it goes.

  15. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. Wow, what an amazing amount of advice and info, I really do appreciate it.

    Not feeling at all well so far this week ( I know it's only Tuesday!), slept for a lot of yesterday and again until midday today but I will endeavour to prepare myself for the appointment. I am relieved to hear the appeal process is fair (just in case).

    I will keep you all posted.

    Thanks again for all the fantastic info. xx
  16. Jessica1

    Jessica1 Moderator

    Hi Tracy
    Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. I hope you can rest up in preparation for Monday and that you feel better soon x
  17. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks Jess, feeling much better now. :)
  18. countrylass

    countrylass Registered

    Good luck hun.sorry missed the update well done you for perserving.not easy.....shame you feeling so rough.bless take someone with you.wishing you all best postive vibes your way.hugs

  19. TracyJN

    TracyJN Registered

    Thanks Lass!

    Well I have been so my claim is now in their hands. It seemed to go ok; I actually got a real doctor!! Time will tell I guess. Does anyone have any idea how long I have to wait for a decision?
  20. Jessica1

    Jessica1 Moderator

    Hi Tracy
    Now time for you to relax and wait. I really hope you get the results you deserve to take some pressure off you.; at least you got to see a real doctor too. Looking forward to hearing that you've had good news x
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