Fibromyalgia Action UK
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ESA ~ What happens when you are too sick to work after being assessed as "fit" for work???

Like so many others on here I've very recently been through the stressful process of being assessed to move from Incapacity Benefit to ESA. After spending multiple hours filling in their awful form and enclosing 3 doctors/specialists letters of support I've received a letter informing me that I'm in the WRAG.

Actually filling in their stupid form landed me in hospital for 10 days with a further 10 days of IV out-patient treatment as I developed a life-threatening Cellulitis in my affected arm purely from spending many hours in one position!! I was told that the antibiotic I had was the "world's most expensive" (reportedly £700 a dose, which I had 4 times a day for 10 days then once for the remaining 10...!) Then there was the hospital stay itself and all the usual costs, which must have added up to a fortune...

I would have thought that this actually TOLD them something??? But I did not have a medical & they obviously took no notice of the letters from my GP, oncologist & endocrinologist, which all stated that in their professional opinion I wasn't fit for work of any description now or in the foreseeable future. I AM appealing but don't hold out much hope of winning that due to the experience of others on here.

Despite the obvious problem of not being where I wanted to be I have some questions about this and am REALLY interested to hear what others have to say about this situation as it is affecting so many of us...

1. Just WHO is going to employ someone who is most likely to be off sick frequently, who can't walk without sticks on a GOOD day, cannot carry anything, sit for long, has to keep going to the loo, can't use a keyboard for long, or in fact do ANYTHING for very long or in a repeated manner...?? I could go on but I guess you're getting the idea ;-) I know one thing for sure and that is if I were an employer then I would NOT employ me... I mean if there are 30 applicants for the job just WHO is an employer going to choose?? NOT the one with multiple health problems that's for sure!!!!!! So what happens when you can't get a job???

2. IF I have to attend these so called "work related activity groups" or have "interviews" etc, then I will almost certainly be in a position where I'm faced with not being able to attend them. What happens then??

3. IF, in the very unlikely event I DO get a job what happens when the inevitable happens and I go sick?? If my doctor's opinion on my inability to work isn't good enough for them now how is this different to getting a sick note in the future???

Sorry for the out-pouring of "stuff" here... ... ... but you know how it is. It's a crazy stressful situation that seems to be aimed at a very vulnerable group of people who are often to weak or stressed to fight back!!

I'd really love to read your thoughts on this please.

Gentle hugs to all xx

6 Replies

Firstly hun, you should not go off the experiences of others on here, for that is what it is, experience for another. I myself got screwed royally, but that does not mean you will. It just serves to make HU members aware that these things can go belly up. I would get a hospital report of what happened to you and forward that on, keep a copy incase you do end up at tribunal. Your first question is one I asked myself. Not only did I ask myself, but my GP and nurse asked me the same thing. Who will employ me and then give me six months at a time off work when I have a flare up and keep my job open, no one in their right mind I am guessing.

If you cannot attend a work focused interview then let them know in good time and ask them do they require any proof. I would not worry about actually getting employed to necessitate the need for a sick note. Imagine at interview, you are telling the employer all about your illness, you say my GP is not happy as they say I am not fit for work, do you really think they will be chomping at the bit to take you on on the off chance they may get 1 days wrok a week out of you. I think not hun. If you go to an interview at the job centre, go as if it was your worst illness day ever.

You are in the right place to pour out, we all need to do it from time to time. I hope you get the chance to read my latest blog and it makes you smile.

Keep on in there and do not give up xxxxx


Hi there Ozzygirl64

Thank you for taking the trouble to reply... I had to smile at your scenario with the interview re telling a prospective employer about working 1 day a week!! Cause that's exactly it, isn't it? I shall certainly looks up your latest blog (if I can find it!!) - I could do with that smile!! :-D It's a good idea to get a hospital report - I shall look into that and see if my consultant will do that for me. Thanks. :-) xx

I also agree that you cannot apply what is decided for one person to another, but ATOS seem to be treating everyone the same by throwing out most if not all applications!! I find it helpful to hear what is happening for others regarding ESA as at least it does prepare you for the inevitable...

I'm just about start a renewed application for DLA as advised by the CAB. I receive lower rate at the mo but should have applied for the middle one years ago - just never did. CAB say that anyone on the lower rate will be "phased out" when PIP takes over and that I "should get the higher rate..." I'm not holding my breath though!!!

There doesn't seem to be an "in between" stage for benefit. You either have to be so severely incapacitated that you're not able to do anything at ALL or you are deemed to be fit for work. I know this whole system is flawed and that I'm preaching to the converted but it surely must change in the future??? Just how many will suffer in the meantime? People who don't have any other support are a huge concern - I'm fortunate that my husband works but know that if/when my benefit stops it will obviously make a significant impact.

My question was intended to be an "open" one, not wholly directed at my own circumstances but rather thrown wide for the many people whose terrible accounts I read on here every day. I find their situations very upsetting, especially when there doesn't seem to be an answer to their troubles.

Ever the optimist I'm hoping for change as it would be really good to start hearing a few successes in among all the knock backs!!

Has anyone written to their MP?? If so what response did you receive? Again this is something I would be prepared to do if I thought it would do any good...



It is scarry just thinking where the benefits system is going to leave us chronically ill and vulnerable people.

I'm not sure how I will make the pennies add up once my daughter leaves full time education and goes to Uni, all my safety nets have been used up. I try not to think of it too much but it is another thing to add to the stress. My only hope is to win the lottery!

Julie xx


The questions you have raised Celticmoon, are ones I have asked myself too. I am lucky that I am managing to hold down a part time job. Not very well and I think my employer of just a year heartily wishes she had never employed me! I haven't taken any sick days, but as we all know Mr. Fibro makes us ineffective in many ways. I don't get sick pay in my job anyway. But if all of us who are "forced" into taking employment that is really beyond our capabilities and get signed off by our Drs. How does that leave the work force? Soon employers will only have to hear the word Fibromyalgia and they will employ someone else. How does the benefit system cope with that scenario? We can't MAKE people emply us. It must be such a worry to all of us, which makes the symptoms worse, which makes us less likely to be employed, which makes us worry more. And so on. XX


This is what's putting me off of trying to claim ESA. x


Thanks for your responses :-)

I am considering - no matter what happens to me regarding my claims etc - in writing to my MP, not just on my behalf but generally for EVERYONE who suffers from Fibro or another "inivisible" illness. As someone who experiences the joy of having long-term CFS/ME I am further made exhausted by the ignorance of so many professionals concerning this debilitating condition!! ;-) I'm sure that others here will identify with the reaction of some professionals (& actually friends, family & complete strangers too) and the fact that it isn't always quite WHAT they say, or don't, but the way in which they say it... Some even think it's a huge joke!!! I'm fortunate in the fact that my GP and oncologist are totally on board with the concept and reality of my condition but have experienced a lot of others who aren't. This leaves you feeling so low and it makes me mad knowing that there's so many others who are not getting the support they need. If we can't get the support at base level then this makes applying for benefits and other types of help so incredibly much more difficult. Feelings such as those of wincoupe above worry me - it's just not right that people should be put off from claiming something that is rightfully theirs!!

I think I'll throw the question of writing to your MP out in another question...


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