Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My ESA50

I just finished my ESA 50 form, as it is now my turn to be transferred from the old incapacity benefit, on which I have apparently been "festering," to the new Employment and Support Allowance.

You will all know that I hold the DWP descriptors largely responsible for all of the misery of ESA. The 17 narrow descriptors - "Can you pick up a pound coin" "Can you lift an empty cardboard box" "Can you lift a pint of milk" bear no relationship to a person's ability to actually do a job of work.

My answer to all of these questions and more would have to be "Of course, I have bowel disease. I might accidentally poo on the coin or vomit in the box so conveniently provided, but these descriptors do not apply to me."

When you read the ESA handbook in detail, it becomes more farcical. "This descriptor only applies on a Tuesday when there is a full moon if the claimant has grey eyes" "This descriptor must be stringently applied to those who are dead. Just because they appear to be dead at first glance, an HCP (Health Care Provider) must take careful steps to ensure that death is in fact present"

OK, I made the last two up, but it's really not far from the truth. Do open the link and take a quick look - "Special Circumstances" is particularly illuminating. Effectively, what I'm trying to say is, a good knowledge of the descriptors won't assure that you go into the Support Group, ensuring long term unconditional support. A quick read of the handbook leaves an applicant wondering why on earth they are bothering at all. However ill you might be - and lets face it, we all agree I'm pretty ill, as does my consultant, my social worker, my GP, hell even my grocer!! - there are so many exemptions, limitations, exclusions and provisos, they can pretty much make whatever random decision they feel like.

But it gets worse! I hadn't seen an ESA50 until about 3 weeks ago.

There are the usual "Who/What/Where/What do you have for Breakfast/" questions, then, loud and proud, just before you get into the "How likely are you to die tomorrow" questions there is :

"Drugs, alcohol or other substances

Do you think any of your health problems are linked to drug or alcohol misuse or misuse of any other substances?"

What? Has this always been there? I think it hasn't. Is this a Tory ideological add-on? Did Richard Littlejohn get to write a section? Will you automatically be turned down as "undeserving" if you fell into alcoholism or crack addiction? I'm sure the DWP will say it allows them to "signpost" people to the right support - I fear this "support" is a cardboard box and your own doorway to sleep in. I was shocked that it was there. Is addiction not an illness any more? Only I'm sure the entire medical profession believes that it is, as difficult to "shake off" as MS or cancer, without the right treatment.

Despite breeding more than their fair share of alcoholics and drug addicts, our elite ruling class appear to believe this is entirely appropriate if you have the funds to support your habit. The Rausings were clearly a bit "off form" but at least they weren't ignoring dead bodies on tax-payer money eh? The hypocrisy is breathtaking, and frankly, a bit sinister.

But then, as I started to fill in the form, I realised it was even more limiting than the descriptors. In fact the questions didn't relate to some of the descriptors at all. Anyone with little or no knowledge of what is expected to qualify for ESA will surely be found almost certainly "fit for work"??

"Can you move at least 50 mtrs before you need to stop?"
"Can you go up or down two steps without help from another person"
"Can you move from one seat to another right next to it without help?"
"Can you reach up with your arms without difficulty?"
"Can you pick up a) a one pint carton of liquid b) a two pint carton full of liquid c) an empty cardboard box

I could go on, but all the people who rely on oxygen to breathe, or a cocktail of drugs to stay alive, or who cannot eat food or drink drinks, or have less than six months to live, or rely on dialysis must answer the questions wondering when on earth any of it will relate to them. They will reach the end and could have had no opportunity to actually write about their condition at all. If they don't know that you have to crowbar every last detail in and write full essays for each question, often repeating yourself, they will surely send in the form, mystified, not realising this will either result in an immediate "fit for work" decision or an assessment.

The ESA 50 is misleading in the extreme. I thought DLA (Disability Living Allowance) forms were bad, but at least they lead you to give all the information you might need to give. Whilst the ESA 50 does go on to expand a little on the questions above, so much is left out, a naive claimant would never give the information they need to give without a trained advocate or representative.

Today, I will be submitting a FOI request, asking exactly how many people are immediately found "fit for work" without a face to face assessment, based solely on the information they provided on their ESA 50 and what their conditions were.

If the DWP deign to respond, I fear the results will shock us all.

**It has been pointed out to me succinctly in the comments below : 

"Great blog post Sue, but on the addiction add on which is ideological and brutal, It was your party: New Labour which first introduced the concept of linking benefits to taking up treatments and consequently the new element in the form... "

Bloody shame on them, then, I say.








93 comments:

  1. You're right about the ESA50, Sue, it's certainly "not fit for purpose" like the whole ESA assessment process. It took me 3 weeks to complete my form, and I checked and rechecked my draft before I actually filled it in, using Benefits and Work guidance, but I've just realised I've left some important details out and it's too late.

    By the way, the question on alcohol and drugs was in the last IB form I filled in in 2009 - so it's not a new question.

    Mike

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  2. a lot of those questions on the form not just the ones you listed show sadly how out of touch MPs and HCPs are with disabled people and the conditions they have/problems they face.

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    1. Those questions are essentially close-ended. Using that technique you can not only get the answers you want but you can stop people from giving you the answers you don't want too. These forms are designed with those critieria in mind. Obviously the designers have to be extremely well acquainted with the conditions and problems disabled people face so they can design the forms so as to allow no mention of them, as Sue says above of claimants "They will reach the end and could have had no opportunity to actually write about their condition at all". That's the point of the forms, they're like that by design, not by accident. It takes expensive people to design forms like that. Now you have some idea what the hundreds of millions we're paying to Atos actually pays for.

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    2. Yes, I'm sure it was UNUM and the UNUM funded BioPsychoSocial faculty at Cardiff University run by Mansel Alyward: the former DWP CMO which was instrumental in creating these brutal Kafkaesque forms..

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  3. What I can't stomach is the thinly veiled assertion that they're doing it to help and support you , what help and support is out there ? Where are the bloody jobs even if you could manage to work?

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  4. the ESA50 is, in my opinion, impossible to fill in without help. Understanding the devious, deliberatley misleading oddly worded questions, the points scoring system, knowing that there are 'discriptors' that score points that are not even on the form, needs the kind of lateral thinking lots of spoonies just can't do.
    I belong to B & W and would have made a total mess and fallen into all the 'elephant traps' without their guides. I have been a member for years.
    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance
    In most boxes I wrote 'see attached' and did a word doc so I could get in all I wanted to say, with examples from my daily life illustrating how the scoring discriptors applied to me. I stapled each page in place (so there would be evidence of tampering if DWP 'lost' the additional pages). Also I send recorded and signed for as you can track it online and have evidence that it has been posted and at least got close to the receiving address even if it is not signed for by DWP. It goes without saying KEEP A COPY.
    I know this is teaching you to 'suck eggs' Sue, my answer is mainly to for anyone new to this DWP sponsored torture.
    Having been put into the support group myself but with no re-exam date I turn to jelly whenever I see a brown envelope :-(
    Got to start the entire ESA process helping my daughter who at the age of 22 has just started having seizures and is waiting for NHS MRI, EEG and consultant refferal after ending up in A & E recently.
    Good luck with your claim Sue.
    Tls :-)

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    1. I'd endorse the view that the benefits and work website is an invaluable aid to completing these labyrinthine forms and the ground keeps shifting beneath peoples feet as assurances become more vague and nebulous (e.g. the recording of medicals - a guarantee that's as worthless as the rest of IDS and Grayling's verbiage ).The Harrington review (as toothless and overhyped as it has been) will continue with a more conformist stooge replacing him at years end.The terminologies - Health Care Professionals (HCP's) are miraculously transformed in the blink of an acronym to Approved Disability Analyst (ADA's) clearly their healthcare professional credentials were not all they are cracked up to be .So a few hours of disability awareness training and "Bob's yer uncle" they now transmogrify into a fully trained disability analyst who's opinions can ride roughshod over the weightier knowledge of those real experts dealing long term with the individuals chronic ill-health and disability. It's remarkable the transformative power of language /doublespeak....(white man he speak with fork-tongue).
      Benfits & Work have also rattled the feathers of the right wing tabloids/broadsheets who have attempted to discredit them precisely because of their success in providing the clear and cogent information necessary to navigate these ESA 50 forms/DLA forms etc. It's a resource that is indeed used by many of the welfare rights workers employed via various agencies.
      When Sue blogged about the possible trialling of new WCA descriptors I'm afraid my heart sank in response.The disability charities involved in consultation with govt and the Harrington review and those others working with ATOS on the PIP descriptors (who unsurprisingly seek to remain anonymous) or bidding for contracts to provide placements for people to prepare them for the world of work are either naive or disingenuous! They are often as gifted as politicians in portraying the process of engagement as a positive process ( better to be on the inside trying to influence etc. etc. ...) there's just one problem with this they are clobbered and they CAPITULATE to the govt. agenda and say it's better than NOTHING. NO ITS NOT!!!! gaining NOTHING would free you to join collectively with the other Disability charities and reps FREE from the constraints of gagging clauses and embargoing and actually CAMPAIGN LOUDLY AND VOCIFEROUSLY and LOBBY the PRESS & BROADCAST MEDIA en masse to convey the true HORROR of what is happening to peoples lives and the wholesale DESTRUCTION of HEALTH & WELFARE. Collaboration has not achieved any meaningful change to PROCESS or ameliorated in any significant way the outcomes. It is TRIBUNALS who have overturned faulty decision-making and even then only insofar as they can/or are able within the LAW and there are judges who are sympathetic and those who are not- that too is a lottery.Moreover Grayling and IDS have the tribunal process within their sights too they aren't about to see their reforms hampered or interfered with by a currently relatively independent tribunal service. I'm aware this is all very NAY- SAYER! DOOM-LADEN RHETORIC but the disability charities know this themselves as do the welfare rights workers . I honestly believe our hope lies in persuading the Charities- to whom most of are not affiliated or to whom we do not formally belong as members - as KEY to exposing this VILE overturning of entitlements. ENTITLEMENTS- (that word has become pejorative...can you not hear the retort "the world doesn't owe you a living"? "personal responsibility"..."end the something for nothing culture" ad nauseam? ) The battle isn't about ENGAGING with government to change this punitive and heartless system it's about forcing the hands of the Disability charities to DISENGAGE and FIGHT OUR CORNER ON ANOTHER FRONT.

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    2. Sam
      Ive heard Jeremy Kyle is lined up to replace Harrington

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    3. That'd be right! no doubt with Jim Davidson acting as Special Advisor!

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  5. I asked my MP to find out how many people who are on the highest rates of DLA (both) are found fit for work under the ESA rules given nowadays that to get those rates of DLA you literally have to be dying or be as near as damn it is to blaspheming .Guess what ..there aren't any as the "DWP didn't chose to add those figures to the data set" I wonder why ....

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    1. I bet they do know, they are just not going to release the data. They know that under the old system sensibly those on the higher rates of care were exempt. Now you can be found fit for work despite it. Now,They are doing it the other way around, even before the law on DLA has changed. They are using a fit for work decision on ESA to deny people the higher rates of DLA on renewal.
      Just like they say they don't keep figures on the mysterious 30 odd per cent who "disappear" from the figures - implying its the workshy who signed off IB to avoid the medical or got jobs - which they clearly haven't.Nor do they keep figures on the number of suicides or so they say .. yetquestioned in the Houseof Commons Grayling's answer was along the lines of, of course we look very carefully into such incidents... So they must know the numbers then?

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    2. don't have the figures but certain that 75% of current DLA claims are refused - the tories don't work in mysterious ways - their deceit is obvious

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  6. Remember they want you to die. This will reduce the dole queue. They are the Tory Party after all.

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  7. I am sure I ready somewhere (Rightsnet/Benefits&Work???) not quite sure where but that the DWP cannot find you fit for work on the ESA50 alone - to be found fit for work you have to have a face to face assessment

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    1. Ah, I wondered that - if anyone knows for sure, I'd be glad to know. At least that would be something. After all, what about the guy who couldn't feed independently or mobilise who was found "fit for work" because he filled in the form wrong? His benefits were stopped weren't they?

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    2. I agree with Anonymous above, I've read that on the B&W forums too. I think that speciric guy's forms were filled in wrong or incompletely so the DWP took the view, quite possibly justifiably, that he hadn't filled the forms in and so was automatically declared fit to work by default. I don't believe that particular story was reported as well as it might have been.

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    3. His family filled it in, because he couldn't either physically or mentally, but only with what they thought was obvious information given that his condition was so disabling, they couldn't believe anything else was needed.

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    4. I believe what you refer to was a posting (either as you suggest on Rightsnet or Benefits and work) regarding someone who alleged that they had had their appeal stopped because they never underwent the requisite face to face medical assessment/WCA to begin with. I think there is some confusion as to whether this local judgement (I think in Bristol? )-if indeed it was- has implications nationally in terms of precedent for other appellants. I think it was on the Benefits and Work forum. However bear in mind my memory doesn't always serve me so well :-)

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  8. If you fill in the form online, you can add text to the box underneath each question. However it doesn't take much before the typeface becomes so small it is illegible,when printed off. Designed to make sure you cannot actually fit in much detail about your condition. I should have typed extra pages and stapled them in as Anon above but I didn't think they'd accept it. Whoever reads mine is gonna need a microscope!
    Funny too, how the envelope they send is too small to include ANY extra information.
    This form is cruel and ineffective, we all know. But in essence, it is just plain silly and laughable. Perhaps that is how we should treat it. Just wipe your arse on it and swnd it back. The result will be the same. Fit for work because you can address your own toilet needs!

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    1. That's actually a great idea! Fill it out, wipe your arse on it and send it in :)!

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    2. Now why didn't i think of that before sending back my form last week? Maybe it's because if I was able to stretch that far then I would be fit for work.

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  9. The descripters are so tight you'd have to be a contortionist to fit into them, while at the same time being a 'catch-all' - no mean feat by whoever designed them.
    I have a musculo-skeletal disorder and really struggled to fill in the form. Even the 'simple' ones were a headache. For example 'Can you pick up a pound coin' - I needed to ask someone "from where?" I could pick it up from a table but not from the floor...so I a to fill in ever eventuality of said task for all the different boxes. It took me about three weeks and a pint of sweat to complete the form. In fact I had to leave a few boxes blank, not a good idea but the stress of doing it was too much. I have no idea how people with mental health problems manage it, it is just mind-blowing.
    I'm just awaiting my assessment date now, God help me.
    Just to add that when the DWP rang me to say I would be receiving this form I told her I had problems with my hands and would have difficulty physically filing it in. I had no offer of help at all, in fact she couldn't get me off the phone quick enough.

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  10. I managed to fill in my ESA50 with some help from a spartici friend and miraculously was placed in WRAG without a face to face - miraculous? not really, mistake? yes. I'm not fit to work, i cant leave my home alone - this was pointed out repeatedly on the form- and whilst my condition my not be terminal it is incurable (Fibromyalgia) along with major depressive disorder and other issues, all clearly explained. I had to use dragon software to type my answers (I cant write due to pain, cramp and illegible writing) and paid extra postage to submit all the information I wanted to tell them in a larger envelope than was provided. All this, led to no assessment, apparently, but it also led them to still believe that I am fit for work. I have now written a letter asking them for a full explanation of their decision and a reconsideration - I await their response. Whilst all this is going on Ive also had to submit a renewal for DLA (Ive been in receipt of it for over 8 yrs, since before I became to sick to work,) but every time I send off a renewal I worry this time they will say no.

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    1. just reading what I wrote - when I say they believe Im fit for work, I understand that WRAG means they dont expect me to return to work now, but the pressure they will put on me to attend the job centre will be just as bad as expecting me to attend a job interview. I cant leave my home alone, I have panic attacks in strange places, I get angry and upset under pressure and end up sick and in a flare from it all. On top of all this I am apparently going to be cured in 12 months time, as Ive only been granted cont' based esa for 12 months. If my health carries on the way it has for the last 5 yrs, in 12 months time I will be worse than I am now not better.

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  11. I've got M.E. It took me 7 weeks to fill in the form, I had to ask for extra time)typing and editing a bit at a time and photocopying documents. Now they have cut the deadline to 4 weeks not 6 just to make it even harder to get letters from your doctor etc.

    Re: the how many found fit on the form alone:I don't think ANY will be. They have to put people through the "medical" because that is how the HCPs get paid. Per medical. THEN they find you fit on the basis of the form.

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    1. I can't find the link but i read somewhere that the DWP hired a consultancy to investigate how massive cuts could be made in the welfare budget. Their key idea was to ensure payments were late, mistakes face sanctions and lots of other ways in which 'micro-amounts' could be saved as of course they soon add up..

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    2. I had 4 weeks to fill in my form. It was not enough. I don't have nearly the barriers to completing the form that those above with Fibromyalgia and ME have, but I have children. And it's the summer holidays. And I'm trying to navigate a new consultant, 4 new referrals, a private pain consultation, a new PTSD counsellor, suing a hospital (there, I said it) running a home, the Olympics (So? Tories? I'm allowed to bask in the National Glory too, no?) and a home to run. Plus the added niceness of backdated DLA to spend on all the things that were broken or un-replaced where I went bankrupt waiting for a decision.

      It is mentally draining - each question you have to live the worst aspects of your life that your try to deny, in glorious techinicolour.

      I defy anyone to do more than 3 hours straight without wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.

      4 weeks is not enough. anyone reading my blog who might want to make the process more manageable, should add that tot the list.

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    3. 'I defy anyone to do more than 3 hours straight without wanting to curl up in a ball and cry.' Yep, all 'coping stratagies' replaced by a feeling of being a liability to our families and society in general.
      That is what DWP bullies want us to do, curl up and die as quickly and quietly as possible.
      Tls :-(

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  12. Have you asked for the medical to be recorded Sue?

    Interesting to see what happens as Grayling said they should be if asked but people now told all machines (all 11 of them) broken.Previously medicals could be rearranged but now Grayling says they must go ahead, without recording.

    There is a petition on Change.org about this:

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/atos-respect-my-rights-and-record-my-disability-assessment-cc-dwppressoffice

    Off topic, they also have a petition about the Paralympics.
    Apparently wheelchair users are not allowed to sit with their families. Only 1 other person allowed - presumably your carer, since disabled people obviously don't have partners, children and families.

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/international-paralympic-committee-london2012-review-ticketing-policy-for-wheelchair-users

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    1. Kindly check facts. Wheelchair users are allowed to sit with one other. They are not automatically granted places for the entire brood which would result in them taking places from other wheelchair users. The expectation that other disabled people should have seats removed to cater for people with large families is completely outrageous and nothing to do with disability discrimination.

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    2. Kindly shut up.

      If you read the petition you could see the facts yourself:the woman cannot attend in a wheelchair with her husband and 2 small children as only 1 person can remain and she needs her husband to assist her.

      Is she supposed to leave two very young children alone somewhere else in the stadium?

      This is the Paralympics for God sake. Billed as the most disabled friendly Games ever.And you are suggesting it is unreasonable to expect disabled people to be able to attend with more than 1 other person? When the Olympic Family had whole areas marked off for them that they couldn't even be bothered to turn up to?

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    3. For the Olympics, tickets were sold as a maximum of 4. For wheelchair users to be granted less than four (two) places, is discrimination. Nothing to do with taking places from other disabled visitors, cheap shot. Simply giving ALL disabled or unwell visitors the same opportunities to enjoy the Paralympic games with their families afforded to spectators at the Olympics.

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  13. Great blog post Sue, but on the addiction add on which is ideological and brutal, It was your party: New Labour which first introduced the concept of linking benefits to taking up treatments and consequently the new element in the form...

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    1. This too I have been told today, I'll post your comment as acknowledgement.

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  14. Yes, great blog. I have M.E. too and also have had radiotherapy for cancer which made the M.E. worse. It took me weeks to fill in the form. I found it exhausting and humiliating and immensely frustrating. Nothing seemed relevant. Obviously I should have attached lots more info to each question too. I went for the assessment and was placed in the WRAG. I appealed to be put in Support Group - an even more exhausting and humiliating experience - and was turned down. So, still in WRAG but receiving no money as I was on Contribution based ESA which ended after a year. My condition has got so much worse just because of having to go through this whole experience. Now trying to decide whether I have the physical/mental energy to reapply again as condition worsened, or just to give up. I'm appalled that our country is treating vulnerable people in this way.

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  15. The ESA is clearly designed to fail, the UC will be even worse in its implementation as it is completely the brain child of the sociopaths, Freud and Smith.

    One trick on the ESA is on the standing and sitting part of the form, on the form it asks you how long you can stand and how long you can sit, you supposedly get points for how long you can stand and how long you can sit respectively, however, the decision maker is encouraged to combine these activities, thus if can only stand for say 30 , mins but can then sit for 20, then stand for another thirty, making one hour twenty in total, then you have failed this part of the test as an hour is the cut off point, cruel and unethical to say the least.

    It really is a throwback to the workhouse and before that the Poor Law..

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  16. Even knowing the criteria and filling it in with that knowledge doesn't help, when the HCP decides to ignore parts of it, and just say that others are unsupported, without having sought any additional evidence - and the DM (still!) rubber-stamps their opinion without seeking any extra evidence, even on a reconsideration.

    Requiring people to produce the evidence themselves is ridiculous on an income-replacement benefit.

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    1. I agree, Doctors rarely can be bothered to write letters unless you pay a fee. The onus should be on them to write to health professionals for evidence.

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  17. Can anyone please tell me why we are just putting up with this shit?

    If the PCS can go on strike about THEIR conditions why cant they go on strike to refuse to process policies which are leaving people destitute and dead.

    Just following orders of government is no defence since Nuremburg.
    People are required to decline orders that are immoral.

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  18. I recently filled in my ESA50, having been on IB for many years. A least, my partner wrote it out for me as I can't write legibly or for any length of time. The whole process felt like going to the abattoir, having to fill this stupid thing which has been universally condemned. Knowing they are trying to trick you is just so depressing and defeating. At the very least, you need help such as the Benefits and Work guides (which I did find helpful). People just filling it in at face value, not realising just how devious the whole set-up is, are really stuffed.

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  19. I'll add my 'penneth' here (always the last to comment!).

    Firstly, I don't know where I read it, but some people migrating from IB are being put straight into the support group, so similar to others, attaching as much evidence as possible to the form is vital, along with proof of posting and telephoning regularly to make sure the DWP has received them.

    Secondly, I was one of the first to record my ESA face to face 2 1/2 years ago (I was qualified to do so, and had all of the professional equipment, so they couldn't turn me down, although they tried to at each stage).

    Personally, I wouldn't rely on their faulty recorders, but it would be worthwhile seeking out a professional to do this for you (they have to prove their qualifications and demonstrate that they are using professional recording equipment). The costs are not as much as you would think, and it really is worth the money, because they know that they cannot fill in the form on the computer to say that you said 'yes' to something, when you are clearly heard saying 'no'.

    Also, if you are turned down, you appeal straight away, and you should still receive some level of payment whilst you are waiting (for now at least).

    I was put in the support group. Today the letter box went, and I said out loud 'brown envelope' and there was. As I turned it over, it was a charity appeal (must have words with them about this: do they know what affect it's having on people?). That said, as I explained to someone whose just gone through a harrowing experience when reapplying again for DLA, this will happen to us twice a year once they have reassessed everyone.

    I told her that I think we've all to harden up somewhat, but will we ever truly get used to it? Can you imagine? If it takes some of us, as it took me, 4-6 weeks to fill out the form, we'll be spending a quarter of every year doing so.

    When I had my assessment, they made me wait 2 1/2 hours because no one would agree to be recorded (as I told them though, it was my right to do so). It probably took over a month for me to recover from that, which would take it up to a third of a year spent senselessly involved in these things. For many of us, it will just exacerbate our existing symptoms, making life rather hellish; no doubt the most vulnerable will just give up, and that's what the government are banking on.

    All the best with it!

    Clarebelz x

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  20. And dont forget anyone caught visiting the Olympic stadium to watch the paralympics will be found fit for work as their will be all sorts of DWP officials around to watch out for anyone cheating. Only a very few will be allowed to be their within the very strict guidelines that the DWP impose on claimants of DLA/ESA and on that basis I'm out

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    1. funny, I'm sure some of the marshalls will be DWP agents in disguise - stopping events midway through to 'book' athletes and publicising their obvious criminality - rather like the army man in monty python - "stop, you're a benfit cheat"!!!!

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    2. those playing the games will not be in receipt of benefits and will have been cleared in writing to take part
      those sick however visiting to watch will need to be on their guard as if your sick there is no way you can be watching and stay within the governments guidelines and it would be very foolish to turn up

      those who are disabled however have a little more leeway and can be at the games without punishment in some cases but not all so if you are disabled and think about going then be very careful as you will be watched like a hawk

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    3. That is the irony. Many of the athletes are now or have been in receipt of DLA and IB - some have said how it helps them pay to get to training sessions/eqipment etc.

      Once the games are over their Games sponsors Atos will be failing them on ESA and once PIP comes in they won't qualify anymore because they are able to self-propel a wheelchair 50 metres or go out unaided. By being in the Paralympics they have proved they are fit to work and by getting around have proved they won't qualify for PIP. So after the gold medals and the applause of a nation, they too will become on the dole unemployed scroungers, just like everybody else.I only hope their training has not blinded them to what is going on and they will point this out to the public.
      ESA even includes the question if you can pick up an empty cardboard box or pint of milk using your stumps if you have no hands.

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    4. i think you will find that they would in the past have been on benefits but now are fit to work rest and play in the games and that the DWP Descriptors from Employment and Support no longer apply in most of their cases as they can all perform all of the Descriptors

      they are working and being sponsored in the main and some at the top end are in no need of benefits and are making a good living out of working

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  21. Sue.
    Compare the Schedule 2 Descriptors from Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008, to the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations(amended)2011.
    They removed four activities and I haven't finished counting how many descriptors (but I got 10 from 2 activities alone, could be 9, but you get the point). It's one of those things that requires concentration and my pain killers interfere with that. :)

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    1. Good point David.

      Ed Milliband, no less, started Early Day Motion 1651 on 23 march 2011, "praying" to annul the ESA Amendment regulations (2011)laid down by the Tories. Signed by 138 MPs.

      http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1651


      He has however not signed EDM 295 calling for the immediate end of this "brutality" of the WCA, the deaths and the suicides.

      Even a couple of Lib Dems have signed this one.

      http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295

      So what to make of this? Ed didn't want the amended ESA regs but now he's ok with people dying as a result?

      Delete
    2. Not really, shadow cabinet ministers can't sign EDMs.

      Delete
    3. My Local MP, despite supporting me or at least trying to hasn't signed it either. You seem to think that they actually give a shit about us, the only thing they care about is there bloated salary packages and cutting the deficit with any means, no matter who's life they destroy in the process.
      I have found a piece of software to compare the 2008 schedule to the 2011 schedule. So will be able to produce all the differences, which I will post.

      Delete
  22. how can someone run a hundred metres in the 5 ring circus and be classed as disabled ,tho if you can only walk 51 metres you are not disabled ?you can enter the shot putting event as a disabled, sponsored by atos. tho if able to pick up an empty cardboard box size not specified, you are not disabled, and are fit for work .the long, high, and triple jump, performed at this sham, are performed by disabled, disabled being the operative ,para olympians, tho struggle up more then 2 steps, and apparently you are as fit as a butchers dog? ridiculous . vile party, the condoms . steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well put, do think we could get am MP to ask that in the House of Commons.

      Delete
  23. I just lost my appeal because I didn't understand last august when I filled in the form that I had to be dead to be found unfit for work.
    I wasn't worried at all about the form or the assessment.
    I had an industrial accident, my employers were at fault and I received a settlement. (by the way, you may get a 7 figure settlement for being called love at work, but there is a book, the sever loss of function to my Left arm was only worth £19,400) During the Legal case, I was awarded IB at the higher level. A Medical Legal Doctor has stated in writing that I am 60% disabled and that it is highly unlikely that I will "ever return to any meaningful remunerative employment"!
    I Involved my local MP as I found it rather convenient that they had lost both my ESA 50 and the ESA 56 forms, before my appeal.
    I even have a letter from RT Hon Chris Grayling mp, Minister of Employment, to my local MP that states that my consultant is Medical Legal Expert.
    Did any of this help...No.
    So I have lost the difference between my IB and the assessment rate of ESA, which doesn't make life easier. But because it took so long for the appeal, and my doctor still has me signed of work I have applied for ESA, so here we go again, wiser this time.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The first poster is correct; addictions have always been asked about.This is how the government, and the daily mail, can spread the word that there are huge numbers of people that have been languishing for years on benefits with addictions. This happens to be true. Only depression has more claimants. The fact that they are trying to use this information to try to force people into accepting treatment or lose benefits is a different matter. The current question is actually an improvement; at least it recognises the causal link with prescription drugs and addiction. Of course they misuse the data to discredit all sickness claimants, they're a tory government, but don't let that blind you to the massive scale of the problem. People with addictions have horrendous health issues caused by those addictions; any government needs to have data on such a huge public health issue; it's how they use that data that's the problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. coming from a government that is addicted to 'power' which is analysed by its symptoms of arrogance, deafness, deceit, cruelty, criminality and murder - it's laughable

      Delete
  25. no mention of the addiction through prescribed drugs, pain killers ext. i for my part am on anti depressants and morphine, i wonder how some one would stand on an employers insurance, public liability insurance, if an accident happened on such high doses of medication, i wonder if an action could be brought agains atos, for negligence ?steve.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous at 8.15 This is a very good point too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU ALL have a chance to send a message to ATOS expressing your feelings about their organisation and administration of the WCA with its preposterous descriptors and their future administration of the assessments for PIP (which we are aware will closely mirror the ESA processes). GIVE IT A GO - go onto BLACK TRIANGLE OR DPAC FOR A LINK TO E-MAIL YOUR OPINION FOR ONWARD TRANSMISSION TO ATOS. THE MESSAGES FROM THOSE WHO WRITE WILL BE DELIVERED IN A COFFIN - A FITTING SYMBOL METHINKS. IT WONT CHANGE A THING BUT IT MAY WELL FEEL OH! SO GOOD TO LET RIP WHILST REFRAINING FROM SLANDER/LIBEL. GIVE IT A GO. THE CARING PROFESSIONS USING A GUILT FREE LIMA SOFTWARE PROGRAMME TO MAKE COMPLETELY MAD DECISIONS ABOUT OUR LIVES AND FUTURES DESERVES AN ANGRY RESPONSE - AND THE CHANCE TO REMIND THEM THAT THEIR TRAINING IN THESE CHOSEN PROFESSIONS INTENDED A DIFFERENT AIM - TO CARE FOR THE SICK -THE DYING -THE DISPIRITED AND THOSE WITH PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HEALTH BURDENS - NOT TO DAMAGE- DEMORALISE AND DISENFRANCHISE THEM IN PURSUIT OF- ATOS CORPORATE PROFIT AND THE AMBITIONS OF ARROGANT HEARTLESS AND IMMOVABLY IDEOLOGICAL TWERPS WHO PASS FOR REPRESENTATIVES OF "THE PEOPLE" -(THAT'S US)- NAMELY " POLITICIANS!" (THAT'S THE TWERPS!).. YOUR MESSAGE HAS A SUBMISSION DEADLINE OF 24th (25th?) of AUGUST GET TYPING......ENJOY THE CATHARSIS FOR A FEW BLISSFUL MINUTES AS YOU TELL IT LIKE IT IS.

      Delete
    2. Hi Sam,
      Here is the link you mentioned. Send your message to Atos ASAP via DPAC (or Black Triangle) for delivery in a coffin on 29.8.12 to Atos HQ as part of Atos Games Week protest from 27th to 31st August.

      Come on. We've all got something we want to get off our chests. Even French Atos workers have expressed their shame at being associated with this company.

      http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/08/dear-atos-send-us-your-messages-for-atos/

      Delete
  27. I've got to say I see a load of responses from Sue's blogs but I have to wonder...what are folk doing ACTIVELY? You know, other than just rant on a blog? Because Sue is ill, BendyGirl is ill, SpoonyDoc is ill, pretty much everyone who busted a gut to campaign and get the reports out and do the research are all running on empty now with zero help and I'm not really seeing anyone else taking up the slack which is now really starting to irritate me.

    For all the energy put into conspiracy-tinfoil-hat rantings, surely people can each, individually DO SOMETHING? I don't care what - just as long as it isn't praying for a miracle or curling up into a ball and going into denial mode. We love to use the Nazi comparison but one thing we seriously seem to want to forget is the genocide only happened because people kept waiting for some great saviour to swoop down and save everyone...rather than doing it for themselves. If you're sick, broke, and desperate you have nothing further to lose...so go for it, REALLY go for it, and spend more time fighting and less time whingeing. There's no one else left to fight...so best do it ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have sent Sue 2 Emails and tweets offering to help were I can (within my own limitations) but have not had a response. I am happy to assist in any way I can. I am also fighting for my right to be disabled and spend my energy trying to get better, not spending it all fighting to pay my bills. I also write my own blogg http://benefitfaker.blogspot.co.uk/

      Delete
    2. Oh, and I write once a week to my MP, sign every petition, have had my own case taken all the way to the RT Hon C Grayling (for all the good it did)
      and am preparing an article to show how THIS government screwed us all over, not Labour.

      Delete
    3. I'm doing a hell of a lot so my mp tells me much of it very small detail but very important to those concerned
      i myself am ill very ill but despite being told to stop by my doctors have decided to continue until my death

      Delete
    4. David - you've seen the bit where she says it's school hols, she has paperwork to do, a court case upcoming, and her own health is wobbling, right? Seriously, don't bother trying to email her even to offer help. I doubt she even has the time to check every email going.

      Hurrah that there are some folk doing something, great - not that I think writing stuff really makes a difference, and petitions aren't even worth the paper they're written on as has been shown time and time again, but it's a bit. it's something. So, keep doing something more.

      Delete
    5. Ok Oya's Daughter. so were else can I help and what else can I do. If we can organise ourselves and give little things to do to more people we will accomplish far more. You are right Sue does far to much on her own and on her plate. But as someone new to all this I have no idea what I can do other than drive my MP and there staff nuts and write my blogg. Oh and do research on how and why the government felt the had to change the 2008 descriptors which I score 72 points on. Point me in the right direction and I will glad go there and yell from the highest roof tops that this is not how you treat people!

      Delete
    6. Well that's just it - you're asking ME what else you can do, or to point you in a direction. I shouldn't have to - seriously, there's loads of campaigns out there. The Centre for Welfare Reform was actually started by quite a few of the Lords the LibDems want so desperately to get rid of as a result of the horrible stuff they were seeing. It's an option to check in there....but at the end of the day, people will have to find their own way as long as they don't keep expecting other people to organise them.

      Delete
    7. But if we don't organise we don't speak with one voice, just lots of separate voices, and as I said, I am new to this, I didn't plan on becoming a disability rights campaigner just like I didn't plan on having an accident at work either. Thank you for some direction. Finding our own way only helps the individual person doing the fighting, when we should be organising and fighting as a single voice.

      Delete
    8. Never going to have a single voice - if we wait for that we'll wait forever. Even during the civil rights movement there were a lot of different pockets. As long as the end goal is the same it's all that matters. Again, the issue here is choosing one person to lead and pressuring them to do it, rather than taking up lead ourselves. We're ill and disabled - sad truth of the matter is any number of us probably won't see the end of this road and what worries me is people will just flail around aimlessly when one "Leader" goes rather than pick up the slack.

      Stop waiting for "one voice", stop waiting for someone else to lead. Pick something, do it.

      Delete
    9. I am doing it, preparing a report on the huge bloody difference between what labour created and the cons are delivering, taking my MP to task, writing to everyone I can bloody think of and fighting my corner as hard as I can. I just lost my appeal and all my benefits, may loose my house to. I am also in pain every day, debilitating pain, I cannot move limbs, cannot turn my head and am fighting every day to just get out of bed, because I just had the rug pulled out from under my feet and am also now fighting depression. But still I get up and think who can I write to today, what can I do today to make ALL OUR LIVES BETTER, not just mine. I am not that selfish to just fight for myself, I am not alone and some of us out there cannot fight for themselves. I am not pressuring ONE person to lead but we could do with a group of leaders, as an ex soldier, one voice may be louder than a crowd but an organised group of people will accomplish far more. WE need to become ONE VOICE, that's all of us, not just me, not just Sue, not just any single one person, but all of us, shouting from the roof tops that this is unfair, unfit for purpose and a disgusting way to treat people. It is easy for the government to ignore 1000 individuals, but 1000 organised people in a group stating the same facts and the same properly researched information, they cannot ignore!

      Delete
  28. all mp's and i know many will always to your face be nice and supportive but behind your back do very little if anything so do please bear this in mind

    as a mp's wife said to me the other day it would be better to ask the cat and that i was lucky i didn't have to live with him talking rubbish every day

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sue, I fill these in every day and we are given 45 minutes to complete the whole form, just because we can only see about 6 people a session. I always ask the person to consider if they can do the task every day, repeatedly,without tiring. One person was so pleased to be able to say that yes they could pick up and move a pint of liquid that I had to ask "could you do that multiple times as if you were stacking a shelf?" So the answer became "It Vaires" although I can lift a mug of liquid I struggle to do this repeatedly as I tire and lose control of my limbs.

    When you mentioned more new discriptors my heart sank - not another lot to try & learn & work out how the appeals are going to intrepret this.
    I know if you type the form you can add loads of info but consider that the DWP worker will look at it and think they have put a lot of work into this, they don't see how long it took you to do this but if you can produce a 40 page document with 5000 words maybe you could work in a call centre. Im not saying that to depress you even more but just think about it.
    The question re drink & drugs has been there for years as you used to get 15 points if you needed to consume alcohol in order to function.
    re the walking - please remember its not can you walk 50 m but could you self propel a wheelchair, so if you have any neck spinal or hand arm injuries mention them don't just mention the fact you can't put weight on your feet.
    Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'I know if you type the form you can add loads of info but consider that the DWP worker will look at it and think they have put a lot of work into this, they don't see how long it took you to do this but if you can produce a 40 page document with 5000 words maybe you could work in a call centre.'
      Good point Sarah, I stated several times on my ESA50 that my husband had taken over the typing and formatting of my word doc as I was unable to continue to type/write much due to pain, tennis elbow, impingments, fibrofog, depression etc. I felt really un-hinged by the stress.
      Tls

      Delete
  30. Hi, I saw this and thought of your campaigning http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4124349
    She's not alone, my friend has bad ibs, ME and anxiety, she is denied access to the lift and forced to do the stairs and refused access to their toilet no matter how much she begs :(

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ps) my friend was put in the support group from her initial application, you think living in a nursing home, unable to have a pillow under her head, talk or swallow might make finding work a little tricky....

    ReplyDelete
  32. News item 'sneaked out' in the early hours of the 17th..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19244639

    God this CaMoron 'Regime' have a lot to answer for!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complaints that the medical test causes distress have been made since they were first introduced.
      In May 2011, six charities - including the MS Society and Parkinson's UK - urged the government to make the tests fairer for patients whose symptoms vary in severity over time.
      A month later, campaigners claimed in a letter to the Guardian newspaper, that assessments were causing "huge" distress, and had even resulted in suicides.
      Watchdog finds 'weaknesses' in sickness benefit system...............
      ......
      ....'Officials at the DWP have got many decisions wrong, with nearly four out of 10 appeals upheld at tribunals.
      The NAO said it was unclear whether the quality of the tests was to blame for the number of wrong decisions.''The NAO criticised the DWP for not seeking "financial redress" for these delays.

      It said just 10% of the penalties triggered by poor performance had been applied.'

      People who are genuinely sick and disabled need to be helped, not hounded”
      Are you a benefit claimant who has had to take part one of these medical tests? What was your experience like? If you are willing to be interviewed by a BBC journalist, please could you fill out the form below with your experiences, ensuring you include a contact number.

      Perhaps if the public don't like us scroungers they might at least have some views on the DWP geting dreadfull value for money, why they are still using a test unfit for the purpose and ask themselves why if ATOS are getting it 'wrong' so often they have just been awarded the 400 million contract for PIP by the DWP????
      A great opportunity to get our views on TV!!

      Delete
    2. The BBC has an appalling record on covering welfare issues, while this is good news i would urge anyone who does this to be cautious and on their guard...

      Delete
  33. Where is "fourbanks" - he hasn't posted for a while. Is he
    ok?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm as well as can be expected and thanks for asking my blog screen name got hacked so I've had to use my Christian name instead

      Delete
    2. Phew! I worried when I saw that comment x

      Delete
  34. The WCA is just cruel and bizarre, one example, moving and picking up an empty cardboard box! in a work situation how many empty boxes will you be likely to move, very few i reckon.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Not had the pleasure of this form or indeed any incapacity form since 2003, last DLA 3 years ago with an indeterminate result. But then when you are degenerative ain't that the way it should be, in fact need higher care than I got but did not want the fight for that but when my time for the WCA comes I will have to find the strength and help...... SOMEWHERE but don't know where help comes from :-(

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm filling out my ESA50, a bit at a time on a pdf form from the DWP website. I am mentally ill and from what I can tell from various websites, if I fill it in well enough to tell them everything relevant, I run the risk of being told that if I can fill the form in well, I can function well enough to work.

    I don't suppose I shall get it first time around - maybe on appeal. If I didn't have a family, I'd give up now. As it is, if I don't get it, I think financially they'd be better off without me.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have a life long anxiety deppression problem that has stopped me from rorking for almost all my adult life .We have just filled the wca form in and are waiting for graylings and smiths toxic system to remove me and my wife from ouf cheap council house mu doctors treat me with drugs but this only helps a little ivd been throughg the mill time and timd again . But adolph cameron and his nazis cant wait to urinate on me in the streets .well i hope something really bad happens to them they deserve it .soon when ime in a state and really bas things start to happen they will all say oh deAr we should have listened but for all involved it will be to late they pushed me to far

    ReplyDelete
  38. Not sure if Sue has mentioned it(she has a chapter in it) but there is a new free ebook available and which has been re-published:

    Welfare: 'the dread of things to come'

    I see it features Jonathan Rutherford's excellent analysis on the genesis of the current welfare reforms:'New Labour, The Market State and the end of Welfare' including the seminal meeting/conference in Oxford in 2002 on 'malingering and illness deception' that amongst others was attended by David Milliband and of course UNUM.

    it makes for compelling if chilling reading...

    ReplyDelete
  39. Oh, and i forgot to add and of course looks at current welfare benefit policy and what we can expect next...

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ist legal to prit the form off ad send rather thansend into the ether electronically? Im losin the will and its due on the 1oth sept! Help! :-( x

    ReplyDelete
  41. Isn't it funny (not haha) that Atos expect you to fill in so much information in the ESA50 form in a such a small amount of space only to discover that you can also fill out the ESA50 online, which is easier because if you make an error you just hit the delete key instead of using tippex and squeezing extra info in tight spaces like I initially did. And what's the story with this tiny prepaid envelope? Are they having a laugh?

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  44. My ESA50 has been sitting on the side for weeks, partly due to me having a fall and breaking 5 ribs and a collar-bone (leaving me on my back) and partly due to every time I try to fill it out it just fills me with doom and more depression. Ii makes me feel like I am a liar for trying to answer the questions in a way that will help me remain on my benefits.
    Now I have two days left to fill it in and I am slipping into a deeper state of denial.
    A form shouldn't make you feel mentally worse than you already do but this one is a blinder.

    ReplyDelete
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