British Lung Foundation
33,762 members41,219 posts

Atos / Employment Support Application Process

Hi Guys,

Just thought Id let you know how my transition from Incapacity Benefit to the NEW Employment & Support Allowance. Hopefully my experience can allay a few worries and worriers, of which I freely admit to being the worst.

Ok, So I got a scary brown envelope, DSS on back, never good news. Opened it up, panic,horror, anguish... They wanted me to undergo a medical test, a suitability for work interview, and various other hoops to jump through. Guess what? It was ATOS , The Nightmare creators themselves.

The letter said I would receive a phone call, and then a big questionnaire, to ascertain if I was able to work, or not. If I was found able, my IB would cease, and I would be placed on the Employment Allowance, with weekly,monthly and 6 month courses, Attend several interviews a week, actively seek work, no longer disabled, no longer on Incapacity, basically , well, PANIC..

Quick medical- Severe Gold iv COPD, Chronic Pain intercostal muscles, FEV1 22.3%, Oxygen at home, walker needed .

Sure enough, Phone-call asking if I understood what was happening and if I was able to complete a form...Part 1 of the hoops thought I. 'I can fill forms, but only after I am pain free for the day from my Morphine and with my oxygen on. I got the form 2 days later.

It was a huge form, with multiple sections, questions, tests, trip ups,open areas where any answer was detrimental. I spent several days collecting and collating letters from My own GP, My Local Area Lung Specialist, The Big Specialists up in London, my diagnosis, and indeed my 2-3 yr prognosis.

I took my time, included a long letter detailing in understandable format what the reports, test reports etc meant, saying each time, 'As you are medically trained you know what a BODE of 9 is, you know what FEV 1 of 22.5% is and so on.'

Posted it off, registered mail so I knew they received it, and waited. I waited 6 weeks, and then rang up my local job-seekers office to find out the progress. They didnt actually know what the heck I was talking about, or the young lad on the phone didnt, I got a cut and pasted message saying that there were massive holdups, with decisions taking up to 3 months, but I could ring Atos to inquire.

I rang them immediately. I was almost instantly past on to a lovely lady, very polite, and understanding. She took my details, checked, and said 'My dear, please stop worrying. We have looked at all your information, your letters etc, and Im happy to tell you that there will be no need for a medical, no need for a face to face,' I had been found unable to work due to severe disability and I would hear from the DHSS, who Atos had sent their report to 10 days beforehand.

After 4 more weeks, that sound of a heavy letter hitting the floor. I peeped out of the lounge, saw the brown envelope and started to panic. 5 feet way, 2 feet, got it. Slowly turned it over, saw the DHSS on the back, gulped, big breath in, and Open.

'Your Benefit is changing to Employment and support allowance.You have been placed in the 'Support' Group as your illness or disability restricts the possibility of working. Your payments will commence May 29, where you will start to receive the Allowance fortnightly. Your payment has also been increased due to information received, and you will receive £xx.xx benefit, etc.

I had worried for nothing, the process had simply worked. I can sleep easy again.

Hope this will alleviate anyone else worrying as I did, it really is a simple enough procedure, just make sure you send EVERY medical letter, Breathing Test, Chest X-Ray, Medication report and so on, even if it is a tiny few lines, send it. Highlight stuff with marker pens, underline pertinent information, cover every base, and you wont get any problems.

Good luck, sleep easy


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9 Replies

Pleased it worked for you.

Unfortunately, after major heart surgery and rehab and lots of effort from me to get myself fit I probably would be able to pass an ATOS medical. Rumour has it, it is not too difficult!

I will contemplate that as and when!!!

Who would want to take me on as an employee, and finding such, may be a more difficult problem!

Hey Ho



Well done worry over catel

I guess it affects folks in different ways. Ive always been a worrier, if there's nothing to worry about, I worry that there's nothing to worry about. Personally, without disability benefit, DLA Higher, Various other benefits, I wouldnt be able to survive. I live from hand to mouth, every benefit payment budgeted away, and every 14 days being literally penniless. To me, the thought of having any of the benefits I have come to rely on stopped, is enough to give me nightmares. Nowhere to live, nothing to eat, no where to go for warmth, is why I worry. Every day I read nightmare stories from folks who have been cut off, and their suffering.

How easily ATOS can make your life feel not worth fighting for, and so easy for them just to stamp 'Work Able' and move on to the next, impersonal form, stamp, money earned, next please....

If I can help one person to ease their worries, then good, thats why I posted my positive findings of this hoop everyone in the UK who was on Incapacity benefit will face.

I wish I could say mine was as positive. I can only say it has been Horrendous .

After filling mine in in February , sending in a full and comprehensive report on my conditions, a Support letter from my carers (, paid for by the local Council, ). Proof that I had had to have Alarms fitted because of passing out, I heard nothing

3 days ago I phoned to find out what had been happening.....They ( Atos) had asked my old GP ( 2006) to supply my medical report. I then received a phone call from Atos asking me whom my gp was !!! As this old GP had not seen me since 2006. In short , after all these months they could not proceed with my claim until they received new information.

So... after having a massive Asthma attack and feeling so ill I had to go and see my GP and found out the stress has brought on Angina !!!

Still nothing is sorted , they had to cancel my medical ( yesterday) because they did not have enough information to proceed ... I


Indeed good news.

Testament for the need to supply good evidence, set out in a orderly fashion.

It does save claimants a lot of anguish.

Don't forget to use the same information plus the the result of ESA claim, to claim DLA , if you have not already done so.

Well done you.

Totally chuffed for you Catel - excellent news :) Great to share your experience and wish anyone going through the process, the best of luck :)

That's good news and I am so very pleased and relieved for you.

It does seem unfair and cruel though to put people who are so ill through so much stress.

It's obvious that you are very organised and very intelligent. Someone less skilled at these things would not have produced such well constructed reports and forms. I hope they would have been offered assistance from someone who knew exactly what to do.

I feel heartbroken when I read about ill and/ or disabled people being out through hell for the money they need and deserve.


Thanks Cate, I'm sure many will take heart that someone at ATOS has one ... :) Please to hear that your transition went so well and that you had nothing to worry about.

I wasn't on IB, but have recently applied for ESA and I'm at that stage now where I've heard nothing from ATOS or the DWP yet there are only a dozen days left before the 13 weeks is up and they have to put me in either the work or support group. I've sent in the big ESA50 form, I downloaded and used the computer version so I could type it as my handwriting is terrible and I didn't want any ambiguity or mistakes affecting the way they dealt with the application.

I have mentioned the earlier DLA application, and the fact an ATOS doctor saw me for that. I may just ring ATOS on Monday, having read this blog, and see what they say. It's typical of the DWP not to send anything out until the last possible minute. If they do want me to attend a face to face interview they are leaving it a bit late.

Who knows, with all the adverse publicity they've had, they may just be approving more applications...? :O

Angela, Im so sad to hear of your worries. I know I have always had the same thought in my mind, they ask for GP reports, ( In your case as you describe, for me it was a GP who you dont see havent seen for years,as you now see specialists) They write to GP, who says Ive not seen them for 3 years I assume they are cured....

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I always go and see my GP any time I have to send proofs or whatever, just to 'Keep them informed' .

GP's just dont understand how much we rely on their reports, and how much stress and worry they can cause by an errant response to Atos or whoever

Ive just posted elsewhere saying hit them with every bit of info you have, but as youve found, it can so easily get mucked around.

Hopefully now youve cleared up an obvious problem all will now go smoothly.

Take Care


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