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British Liver Trust
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Help with benefits as husband can't work

My husband had a varices bleed in Dec 2015 & it was confirmed that he had ARLD & Cirrhosis & had to give up his job as a chef as an umbilical hernia developed ...making it dangerous for him to work in a kitchen. He claimed ESA but we were told the money was only virtual until the assessment ..DWP claimed he was fit to work after the assessment because he could lift an empty cardboard box moves his arms & legs etc. His virtual ESA was stopped & he was put on to jsa but again no actual money because as a teacher I work more than 24 hrs a week.

Fast forward to Jan 2017 ...umbilical hernia repaired, Feb 2017 was put back on ESA again no actual money in hand, & spent a night in observation ward as fluid had moved from his abdomen (ascities) to around his lung, chest drain planned 3 times but never happened.

March 2017 went into respiratory failure, first ever episode of HE, due to fluid on lung as initially thought to be pneumonia turns out it was ecoli...sepis...kidney failure... pneumothorax developed, so 2 chest drains & ventilated & sedated twice ...the 2nd time they didn't think he would wake up.

On Wednesday admitted to a&e with a severe case of HE ...flooded his parent bathroom & was found just staring at the sink where he had been sick watching the water run. Thankfully fluids & lactulose have sorted him out. The damage the ecoli caused has reversed all the good work over the last 18 months, it now means he has to eat high protein, high carb & high fat diet to stop his liver using his muscles for energy.

There is absolutely no way up can go to work in this condition (sods law he was getting ready to go back into work) as he is a health & safety risk

In terms of his virtual ESA what do I do ...it is becoming a struggle financially to cope

Do I get in touch with them & tell them his health is worse. I do t want him to have to go through another assessment as he was ill for 3 days afterwards in 2016 after they declared him fit to work

6 Replies

If you work over 24 hours a week your husband is probably not going to qualify for ESA even though he definitely unfit for work. If you completed the work capability assessment paperwork now with the hospitalisation details and his HE symptoms he should be found unfit for work. My hubby never even had a face to face for ESA having been hospitalised after a massive upper GI bleed. You do need to supply supplementary evidence from hubbies medical team as DWP or ATOS/CAPITA don't call this in and their own non-qualified assessors make the decisions.

Personal Independence Payment is not means tested and you can get this whether in or out of work but it does depend on you filling in the 'How Your Disability Affects You' form with a great deal of detail in order to 'prove' the patients level of need. My hubby scored 0 at first application despite being on the cusp of liver transplant assessment, at appeal tribunal he was awarded enhanced daily living and even some mobility points. At second application he was upped to basic rate mobility on top of enhanced daily living.

I agree the assessments are horrid and no poorly person should be put through the system the way they are, basically being called a liar at every step.

If you have a citizens advice bureau near you or the council has a welfare rights officer I would definitely use their services in completion of the paperwork OR the website Benefits & Work is brilliant, they charge a very small annual subscription for members only guides which basically show you, step by step how to fill in the forms to have maximum success and the whats & what not to do at any face-to-face. That site is at:- benefitsandwork.co.uk/

Best wishes,

Katie :)

P.S. I don't understand this vitual payment aspect of your claim as during the processing of the claim and assessment period you should have been in receipt of payments. The Employment & Support Allowance page states the following:-

Financial support

You’ll normally get the assessment rate for 13 weeks after your claim. This will be:

up to £57.90 a week if you’re aged under 25

up to £73.10 a week if you’re aged 25 or over

After that, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll be placed in one of 2 groups and will receive:

up to £73.10 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group

up to £109.65 a week if you’re in the support group

You might get more ESA in the work-related activity group if you applied before 3 April 2017.

If you’re in the support group and on income-related ESA, you’re also entitled to the enhanced disability premium at £15.90 a week.

You may also qualify for the severe disability premium at £62.45 per week.

If the assessment takes longer than 13 weeks your benefit will be backdated to the 14th week of the claim.

I would definitely apply again as the website says you can

"In most cases, you won’t be eligible for ESA again if you were found capable of doing some work after your Work Capability Assessment. The main exceptions are where:

your current condition has got a lot worse

you’re claiming for a new condition "

I would say your husband has deteriorated significantly and he is suffering very late stage symptoms of liver disease.

Apply again, appeal if necessary, definitely apply for PIP too as this allows you to apply for carers credits or carers allowance.

ESA guidance at:- gov.uk/employment-support-a...

PIP at:- gov.uk/pip/overview


Thanks Katie for the info

The whole system is so unfair especially as he has worked since he was 16, yet we know people who have never worked a day in their lives & are better off than we are.


Agreed, just update my post above with more details. It's a hellish system, my hubby never out of work from 16 to 51 when he took ill with auto-immune related cirrhosis. Got ESA no bother and so far (touch wood) it's never been reviewed just kept coming in. He was put in Support Group in 2012. Got PIP finally after appeal two years after applying (so started getting it late 2014 but it only ran till 2015 - 3 year award back dated). Had to go through the whole rigmarole again and got awarded till July 2018 but they are reviewing it again July this year. It never ends, it stresses me to hell let alone a poorly hubby.

I would think you should be able to get either/both awarded now but you do have to put down the detail, the minute details of what he can't do day to day and the major stuff - flooding a hospital room has got to demonstrate his unsafe behaviours etc.

That Benefits & Work site really does help with the form filling, takes a while but my hubby couldn't even fathom out the form so what hope does he have working etc.

Wishing you both all the very best, Katie xx


Virtual payment means that all he gets is his national insurance & pension contribution paid, nothing else ....he doesn't receive any physical money

1 like

I managed to get an appointment with my local Citizens Advice Bureau & they helped with the forms. Took a while to get the app but well worth it. They have people who specialize with this .xx


fighting the dwp can be hard

I have found the carers groups to be great at form filling and telling you what you can get.

there will be something like that near you, carers together, age concern, the red cross,


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