British Lung Foundation

ESA point scores

I have been following the newspaper reports re ESA questionaire which were horrifying , I am sure there must be a better way to help people back to work than this frightening bullyboy means , how about a structured and optional programme to start with and see how many people with limited capabilities would love to be back in charge of their finances and be able to earn enough money to go on holiday or buy some new clothes or even replace a household appliance that has given up the ghost . A properly organised scheme would be a benefit to those who would be capable of using it and far less stressful that throwing people out to fend for themselves and fight with thousands of already unemployed people for the few jobs (if any ) that are out there , how can we compete !! . I have also just read that the questionaire is calculated on a point system for the most basic of abilities , rediculous , most people with a condition have good days and bad days , i myself am better in the summer than in the winter and my summers are getting shorter . xxxx Dinny xxxx

12 Replies

I've been through it Dinny, it is so not pleasant, I was one of the lucky ones though and didn't have to go to ATOS medical or interview. I got high support award in ESA. Although the ESA system is structured to a degree, support for those not able to work. Support for those with limited ability to work etc etc This page may explained more:

When your time comes do check with the helpline before completing form, also let your doctor know how you manage things day to day summer and winter ( talk to your doc before ATOS write to your doc who completes the medical report on your behalf and sends it back to ATOS). My doc gave me a copy of that report in case I needed it to refer to if I was called for interview by ATOS. Aside from general day to day difficulties, such as the time it takes to dress, take meds etc. always mention the need to avoid people infected with colds and flu, its a big thing for people with damaged lungs when going into the work place, some jobs more than others and particularly more difficult during the winter months.

Good luck when your number is called.

There are a few other blogs already on this subject which you may find of help to you, just type ATOS into the search (top right).


Thanks Zoee , I have my questionaire to be sent back by 14th August so i am gathering as much info as possible , it is not easy to go through every part of your existance and analyse it but it has to be done xxxx Dinny xxxx


Know what you mean, what I find happens when filling in the form, it makes you look at the real situation of how it is, it forces you to face up to the negative side of having a lung condition and smacks you in the face with the reality of it all. that is something that fades into the background as we live our daily lives and our focus is on what we achieve rather than what we don't or can't achieve. That switch in focus is in itself upsetting. I really don't think ATOS or benefits or the government really appreciate how stressful the form filling is, feeling that we have to try and justify our right to be helped and supported in our illness. But at the same time this process does make us look at those things we don't or can't achieve more closely and in doing that, helps us find the words to put down on the form to express how it really is for us personaly, also the words to communicate to your doctor before ATOS requests the medical report from the GP.

I am wishing you good luck with it all Dinny.


Thanks Zoee , I don't know how i would feel without support , it must be really awful to be alone and dealing with this , i don't have much support at home and i live in Ireland away from most of my family and without any of the helpful bodies in UK CIC ( same as CAB in uk ) don't have much idea on UK benefits so BLF is great xxx thanks again for all your help xxx Dinny xxxx


I sent back my ESA Work capability forms a month ago, now awaiting the reply. First of all I recommend you send it back by recorded delivery to protect yourself. (Proof of postage). WIth my forms I sent all consultant letters covering the past few years, and got both my GP and specialist nurses to write up to date letters. My specialist nurse was very good and studied on the online information of what the DWP were looking for when considering someone's ability to return to work and so covered all these areas in her report. I also spent plenty of time filling my form in rough first, once I sat down and considered what my typical day involved and the many pitfalls I have to avoid, I was quite shocked at the impact my condition had on my every day life. Got so used to it didn't even recognise how problematic every life can be. I was also advised to include the amount of time it takes for me to prepare for each day and how it makes me feel, and any help I use to get me through the day.

Cheers Daximad


Thank you Daximad , Fortunately i have all my hospital records , including lung function test , as i asked for them earlier this year over an MRSA issue , so i have selected a few vital letters from the wad i have backing up my diagnosis and severity etc . I have sent a draught to my GP to see what he thinks and if i have missed anything and have been 2 weeks putting it together ( on and off as i can't do it for too long , the stress makes my head ache ) . I will however put down how long it takes to get ready in the morning , i did hint at it but not a specific time which i will amend , thank you xx. It is amazing how little time there is left after getting ready ( at least 2 hrs ) , washing up , having a rest , tidying up , having a rest , putting washing on , having a rest etc etc so the day goes on .evry time i think i have it all down i think of another difficulty i have . I also don't get any help , no DLA , no home help , no family and my husband is a chocolate teapot , ha ha . thanks again , i will have a chat to nurse and Doc xx. xxxx Dinny xxxx


First of all, I personally have no issues with the ESA tests and I sometimes wonder what all the fuss is about. How else are they going to assess your capability for work? I think it is a bonus that they let us fill in the forms ourselves, and would offer a word of advice. Some of the questions appear to overlap and I think this is because they are looking for consistency in your answers. Always make sure you keep a copy of your answers so that you can be consistent with your condition if asked in the future.

The points score is a simple way of deducing (by non medical staff) where you are in the scheme of things before it is then passed to someone with medical knowledge to interpret. This is a huge task and it is performed by outside agencies to achieve consistency and a neutral stance. If you get an unexpected result, it is possible that some of your answers were conflicting.

Get help with the form, I agree it is slightly intimidating, but how else could it be if you are being assessed for work potential?

I filled in the form a certain way because I WANTED to find some work I could do, but it is clear from my answers that unless I worked from home in a controlled environment, this was not going to happen.

Always fill in the form as if IT IS YOUR WORSE DAY. It's easy to try and be honest and positive, but no good at all if you are unfit for work half the year. COPD is a very different type of disease and it varies, person to person, day to day.

We must also be aware that there is so much benefit fraud that the test criteria has to be tough. It cannot be done face to face - it's too huge a task.

I believe that everyone who genuinely needs help will receive it - that is my experience and if we approach the tests in a positive consistent manner, help will be on the way, although I am quite sure that there are instances where things have gone wrong, but isn't there always?


Hi Baron , your faith in the system is interesting and i am glad that you feel you are able to work , i myself would love to be able to go back to work , i have had my condition since i was 2 yrs old and i have worked until 1994 ,i am married , run a house and had 3 healthy children , 1 is a carpenter , 1 a HGV driver and my youngest has just graduated in zoology at Galway UNI . I have worked in an office , factory , cleaned toilets , for the met police and government . I have always wanted to work and perhaps because of that i done some jobs that i should ( with hindsight ) have avoided but i did not want to be a one parent benefits taker if i could possibly avoid it , which i did . I know there are some people fraudulently claiming incap but i don't have your faith in the system at the moment , hopefully you will be proved right , only time will tell .

My lack of faith comes mostly from my claim for DLA some 18 years ago , a doctor came to my house for 5 minutes , asked me to walk up the hall and back , wrote on a clipboard and bade me farewell , i was refused DLA and much later when i went through my doctors notes on another issue i found he had put me down as a depressed asthmatic !!!!!! . Double viral pneumonia aged 2 yrs gave me swyer james /macloud syndrome :- bronchiectasis and emphysema , aged 20 yrs i worked at a furniture factory since when i had asthma too . Unless you know all the right buttons to push it can be an unfair system and therefore leave scope for synicism .

I sincerely hope you get to go back to work as it gets soul destroying being on a fixed income with no help .

xxxxDinny xxxx


Sorry to give you a false impression but I WANTED to work, but they immediately put me in the support group and I received the highest rate of ESA straightaway. I can't walk 10 yards but I was prepared to work from home as I'm quite good on computers. I am also on oxygen 18 hours a day, so they probably though my optimism a little misplaced. I came onto the system right at the beginning of ESA so that's all I know.

I was astonished how smooth it all went and I am very grateful for the help I get, bearing in mind I worked 45 years without making any claims, not even unemployment.

Sorry to hear of your issues. It always helps to get someone else involved if the sight of all these forms depresses you and it can do I know.

If anyone needs help with these forms at anytime I would be glad to volunteer my any time, just give me a shout. baronatmistraldotcodotuk


Hi Baron ,

Yes i did realize that you wanted to work and that has to be admired , i understand that the fraudulent people have to be weedled out and that good people , like yourself , who would sincerely like to be able to work are idealy given the chance to do so . I just think it could be done in a less stressful and more structured way . Where are all these people now on incap and deemed fit to work actually going to work , it is hard enough for able bodied people to find a job so how are we to compete ?? who would you choose to employ ? someone healthy or someone likely to have 6 months a year unable to work . If there was a special work environment for disabled people where it was accepted that they would have a lot of time unable to work then that would be an easier proposition to work with especially if those involved were given the opportunity to choose first . I don't know of any programme put forward to employ the people deemed fit to work , unless i have missed something somewhere .

It is very kind of you to offer help and i am glad that you were given the top rate of ESA and i might feel more optimistic if i get the same , keep breathing xx . xxxx Dinny xxxx


I am so glad the system worked well for you Baron and would thank you for your advice.

However many others have not been so fairly treated and many who are totally unfit for work have been turned down. The initial points score is in fact done by doctors not non medical staff and they are so restricted by the Government and DWP in relation to the tick boxes. That is why there are so many appeals and that is what all the fuss is about.

Did you see Dispatches on channel 4 and Panarama on BBC 2 this week - very enlightening - according to the guidelines if you were able to use one finger you should have failed.

Again sweet I am really pleased for you.



By the way I am of retirement age so my concern is for others regarding ESA not myself and I am passionate about the injustice of many of the outcomes. However when DLA reviews start in the middle of April next year and they are calling folks back who are not 65 on that day I will be 2 weeks away from being 65. I have a number of health issues and my main gripe is that I, along with many others who have chronic degenerative diseases were given indefininte status and now the goal posts have been changed.



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