I Lost My Tribunal Hearing

I Lost My Tribunal Hearing

My Tribunal Hearing was on Thursday 2nd May 2013, at 4pm. I arrived early with the wife and waited for my name to be called. There were people in the waiting room who had already been seen and were waiting for their decisions; who all appeared to be fed up of waiting.

I was the last hearing of the day, and as it was a bank holiday weekend ahead, I got the feeling that my case would be over rather quickly as the staff were readying themselves for hometime. My feeling was proved correct. I was called into the office where there sat a female doctor and a female judge [who shall remain nameless]. I was a little taken aback as I had been informed there would be a panel of 3 and not just 2 people. Anyhow, I went in the office at around 4:30pm. I was asked 2 questions - could I pick up a litre of milk and one empty box carton, to which I answered 'yes' to both. I was also asked how far I could walk without feeling discomfort and having to stop to catch my breath; I answered that it was definately under 200 metres, and probably a lot less than that distance on most days. I was then asked to go to the waiting room and await their decision. The wife and I didn't even get the chance to sit down as the court usher entered the waiting room and took us back to the hearing office to get the decision. I was awarded 6 points for the 200 metres part and nothing more [the DWP decision maker didn't give me any points!] And that was that, my hearing was over.

The wife and I exited the court building at 4:55pm and were followed immediately after by the doctor and judge, who were both pulling trolley cases behind them. The wife and I hadn't even managed to cross the road when the two ladies quickly passed us by and headed off towards the end of the street. And my hearing and the decision took less than 30 minutes. I kind've felt a little cheated and betrayed by these 2 professional ladies and their desire to get things wrapped up so rapidly and head out the court building. I have a deep sense that the outcome of my hearing was made well in advance. Of course, I can't prove this theory and never will be able to.

What's next for me? Well, I don't have a clue! Though it will most likely be the Jobcentre in the near future.

I have Group 3 COPD. Cervical Spondylosis. Osteoarthritis. And Raynaud's Syndrome. I'm wondering what the staff at the local Jobcentre are going to make of the above when it comes to helping me find a job? Yes, I'm scratching my head at this moment too....

14 Replies

  • You should really have had someone to represent you even though you were there ie; welfare rights, never try it on your own to much legal jargon involved. Talk to cab or welfare rights if i remember rightly there are still other avenues for appeal to go down, hope this helps,

  • well i know what you do ,wait a few weeks and apply again ,then you dont tell them how far you can walk on a good day if its dla that you applied for the distance is now 20mters you always must say what you cant do on a bad day and how things are harder and you have more bad days than good take care dont give in

  • Hi

    You don,t say DLA or ESA.

    As mentioned it is always advised not to go alone.

    You should be informed in writing, ask for the case papers, and seek further advice, from a benefits adviser .

    If you are claiming DLA you next claim will be after 3months, by which time it will be PIP?

    Do not give in.

  • Hi tomscribe,

    Going by the questions it sounds like ESA and a Work Capability Assessment appeal ?

    Without meaning to sound rude, it sounds very much like you were not prepared for the occasion. Had you taken advice from a Welfare Rights officer of the council, or gone to the CAB or DIAL, they would have given you warning of what the questions would be and, more important, how to answer them.

    Sadly, the answers you gave left them with little option but to decide that you were capable of work, if you can get a job lifting empty boxes that is.

    Please try and get some advice. I don't know where in the country you are but if you want some help in finding and contacting your nearest advice centre you could call the BLF helpline. They will be able to tell you how long you need to wait before you can re-apply and where to get some much needed assistance :)

  • Yes, it was an ESA tribunal hearing. I live in Leeds and to be perfectly honest, the CAB centre is so engulfed with benefit claims [and the rest] that it could take up to 2 months to even get a basic interview - and I was by then out of time as my ESA form needed to sent to the DWP. That's the reason I filled it in myself [a nightmare of a job!] and made a bit of a buns of it in the process. The next time, if there is a next time, I'll be more prepared.

    It's the tribunal hearing that's bugging me, I never got asked about the pages of evidence I sent in asking why the Atos Nurse's statement had so many blatant discrepancies in it, which completely contradicted my statements [written/oral] of my daily life. Surely I should have been given the opportunity to refute the Atos Nurse, otherwise what was the purpose of me attending the tribunal in the first place? It all seemed so rushed and the decision made before I entered the court room - but the May Bank Holiday break was just around the corner, so to speak. And the Doctor and the Judge who were the panel, both exited the court building only seconds after the wife and I did and passed us by before we'd even crossed the road to the opposite side of the street! Mind you, they were both dressed and ready to leave as they handed me their decision. The whole affair was rushed to completion and I had no say in the matter. Heck, I thought I was going to get a fair hearing at least.

    Anyhow, I'm now in the process of writing to the Tribunal Court and requesting a 'written statement of reasons' and a 'record of proceedings' so that I can pick out any or all 'errors of law' and take it from there. But once again I'll be up against a 1 month time limit, so my chances of getting any legal or other help is very slim. But I'm persistent beggar, to put it mildly, and one party is bound to get fed-up at some point or other. It won't be me...

    Thank you Gordon for taking an interest, it's highly appreciated. And a very big 'Thank You' to all who have left their comments in support of my plight, that is also highly appreciated.

  • Here's one to try - goo.gl/NuOMt - Leeds Welfare Rights, see also leeds.gov.uk/residents/Page... They may even be able to come out and see you, give them a call and explain what's happened :)

    There's also Age UK, what used to be Age Concern and Help The Aged, their local website for you is ageuk.org.uk/leeds/

    I know what you mean about CAB being busy, it's the same where I am in Donny. Very short staffed, only open limited hours, centre itself about to close... Thankfully, we have DIAL here, but there isn't one specifically for Leeds. Try asking Scope Response on 0808 800 3333, the nearest I could find was their Wakefield one, which is actually in Castleford, so may cover your area. I'm not sure.

    It's not too late to fight back, if you write to HM Courts & Tribunals and explain that you are seeking advice and that you need additional time to arrange appointments and so on. They normally give you so many days, but they can get away with delays of months - I'm waiting for a DLA tribunal, through the Leeds office, and they advised 29-33 weeks !

    The Tribunal panel are supposed to read and digest all the information contained in the case bundle. You would have had a copy sent to you. That has all your letters, the various reports and whatever else is being submitted in evidence from both parties. The Tribunals service is not connected to the DWP or ATOS and are supposed to be impartial. If there was good reason to put you in the support group then they would have done so, which is why I suggested that you had not filled in the application, or worded the appeal, to get the best out of it ;)

    That's why it sometimes seems that they've made up their mind before they even see you, they'll ask a few questions if they are not sure of what was in the paperwork and may even have agreed on the decision in advance.

    There are quite a few websites who offer advice on filling in the ESA50 form, but you're past that stage. May be good revision to see what you could have added. I used the downloadable version, rather than the paper copy they sent. That allowed me to spend a bit more time and go back over it a few times to make sure I'd not fallen for the trick questions. Things like how far you can walk, did you see the box 'it varies' ? That's the one to go for, as this gives you the opportunity to say how this changes from day to day. There will be days where you can't manage to walk as far as you did the day before because you're breathless a lot sooner due to recurring chest infections or whatever affects you...

    Hope that's helpful for you and that you can get some help in resolving the issue :)

  • Hi Gordon, and thanks again for your support. So you're going to attend a hearing in Leeds, eh? I wish you luck! The doctor at your hearing will probably ask you questions like: Are you going on holiday? What will you do when you arrive at your holiday resort?

    Never reply with walking on the promenade or browsing shops, and if you do, explain you walk slowly and frequently have to stop due to breathlessness. It's a question they'll try to trip you up with. They'll also want to know how you're getting there? Be careful with your answer.

    And then comes those 2 vital questions: Can you pick up a 1 litre carton of milk? And can you lift an empty carton? Because if you say 'yes' to both questions, which is obvious we all can, then your case is as good as lost.

    From my own experience and that of many others, your health isn't an important factor, neither are the medicines you take or the horrible side-effects some tablets cause. The only thing that counts to them is if you can go about your daily tasks without dropping dead whilst in the process of doing so. If you live, you're fit enough for work!

    A tribunal is supposed to be about fairness and truth. But believe me, they aren't! The doctor and judge will make their decision based on the Atos version, not your own account. The Atos nurse who did my WCA even made up some questions and answered them herself! I did not stand a chance when I questioned those discrepancies, they would rather believe the health care professional!

    Anyhow, as I said earlier, I wish you all the luck in the world with your tribunal hearing and hope you get the outcome you want.

    regards, Tom

  • It's the Leeds DWP office who deal with all cases for Yorkshire, the hearing will probably be in Doncaster. Mine's for DLA, not ESA, but same sort of things they consider and ask about.

    What's a 'holiday' ? Not had one of those for years! Best we get is a couple of day's at the wife's sister's place near Whitby, and we go everywhere by car anyway. I even use the sea-front bus to get from the car park to the prom, it would take me all day to walk that far, with all the stops I'd need!

    I'm not expecting to be at a tribunal much before September from what they say...

  • Hi Gordon.

    Ah, Whitby - I love it there too! Bit hilly though. So it will be Doncaster for hearing of DLA [or now PIP]. Just hope you get a better doctor and judge than I did, as the judge in my case didn't appear interested at all: bet she couldn't wait to clock out and get off on holiday!

    From your comments, I guess it's just the lungs which are giving you bother? In my case it's osteoarthritis and cervical spondylosis [soft tissue in neck area grinded away] though it sounds more like a female's disease with its name! But I can live with that.

    If you're ever in Bridlington during the 1st week of August, pop into Wetherspoons bar on the promenade and look towards the door entrance table, that's where I'll be parked with wifey and friends who live there - you will recognise us by the laughter! Ale's good and cheap too.

    Righto, I'm off to write a short blog here about a new e-Book I want to write about how Atos and our friendly government want to help the disabled and long-term sick. Okay, you can stop laughing now and catch your breath.

    And without further ado, here I go.

    Keep the spirits up, especially those in a bottle.

    Regards, Tom.

  • Sound advice, once again, from Gordon :)

    Don't give up tomscribe ...... prepare next time and who knows what will happen ? Good luck, whatever you decide to do :) and

    keep on keeping on ....


  • Never give up and get all the info you can to re-apply. Great advice from Gordon as ever. xxx

  • When you are summoned to attend these inquisitions it's important to remember to give your replies based on a worst case scenario.

    Some people can sometimes manage 150/200 paces on good days, although admittedly they will be totally shattered by the time they finish that sort of march.

    Other times, when the chest gremlins kick in, the same person will only manage 40 or 50 steps before fatigue steps in.

    With fatigue comes panic.

    Panic because you just cannot walk any further ...... There is nothing left in your locker..... No breath, no energy..... Your puse shoots up, your blood sats shoot down.

    I know, I've disregarded those warning signs far too often.

    Being in a strange pace, leaning against a shop wall breathing and sweating heavily with people looking at you oddly is not a great place for your mind to be in never mind your body.

    So when I went to my tribunal and was asked about walking distances I quite truthfully said that 20/30 paces was my limit and I certainly would be reluctant to even walk that distance in a new area as there would be no guarantee that I could lean, sit or rest against something.

    These ATOS people like us to be over honest.

    They get a "back to work bonus" each time one of s loses a benefit.

    They aren't interested in us, it's their wallet that matters.


  • You're absolutely correct, they aren't interested in us at ATOS - and I don't give ATOS about them either! Oh aye, sorry about the delay in replying, but I've been ill of late with stress and worry; might have to report my illness to ATOS as they may be sympathetic to my plight. Ah, on second thoughts ...

    The next time I get asked about how far I can walk, I'm going to state the distance in paces as you do, and not 200 metres as I did. And I'm not going to use 'It Varies' in the same way as I did. Thankfully I've gained a lot more knowledge of what to write in my answers for the next time I fill out an ESA form.

    Righto, thanks for your support, it's appreciated! Best of health to you.

    Regards, Tom.

  • I understand that you should answer each question as if it is the first one because a lot of the questions are repeated. So just repeat your answers and treat the form as if a different person will be scrutinizing it.

    Good luck.

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