ESA Decision, advice needed

Hi. I sent in my ESA50 two weeks ago, plus as much 'supporting evidence' as I could come up with.

This morning I received a phone call from ATOS. The guy was obviously chosen esecially for making the phone calls, as he sounded like someone's uncle or grandfather.

He told me I am to be placed in the WRAG group, and that my income won't change. He told me that I must attend the 'Work Focussed Interviews' but that I cannot be made to work, as they accept I'm unable to at the moment. He also said the entitlement toContribution based ESA would run out in 9 months, but not to worry because as I don't have a partner I would just be moved onto the Income related ESA instead.

Now I don't know what to do. I and my G.P. know the chances of my returning to employment (paid or otherwise) are less than zero.

So do I stay in the WRAG group or do I appeal? Is it even worth my appealing? I believe that if I appeal my income will drop whilst waiting for the appeal to be heard - and won't be backdated, but more recently I heard that you don't get paid at all if you appeal. As I have no other income and my savings have long gone I cannot afford to be without income.

However there are going to be times when attending one of their Work Focussed Interviews won't be possible for me, even if I get a lift, walking from the car park to the centre and back is at times going to be impossible.

Can anyone here advise from their own experience if possible?

Thanks

Em xxx

11 Replies

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  • I was put it the wrag group of esa in june and my money went up from normal esa and yes you must appeal if you feel the decision is wrong im still waiting to hear about mine but i write to them every couple of weeks to let them know i havent let it go.

    They are a law unto themselves and every office is different.

    Good luck i have been to 1 interview and all i did was cry i was so depressed my doctor was so annoyed and signed me off for 3 months and i have just had a one to one meeting over the phone, but i know theywont put me into the support group but my doctor is on my side.

    Take care Lin x

  • Thanks for replying Lin

    I know I won't ever be able to hold down a full time job again, and did feel I should have had the necessary points to get into support group, but I also know not many get in. I wonder about appealing as currently I will be paid the same as I got on IB, because although 'at the moment' they cannot force people in WRAG into taking a job, there is no guaranteeing that won't change in the future. I am just afraid of making things worse if I appeal.

    Let me wish you luck with your appeal, I hope you get the decision you need, at least you have your doctor on your side, though of course we know they don't listen to doctors.

  • I asked this question a couple of weeks ago as I don't know... I don't think anyone else did either as I didn't get any replies!

    I'm going to ask the Citizen's Advice next time I'm there as I think this is important. I expect that you will lost the extra £20+ that you get for attending them but this is in excess of your ESA.

    If you manage to find anything out please post it on here as I keep worrying about exactly the same thing!

    Gentle hugs xx

  • I hope the CAB are able to help you. My nearest one is a bit far for me to travel to, and I have been unable to get through by phone, as that was my first thought. The guy on the phone today said I must attend the interviews, or my ESA would be stopped.

    I had initially decided that if I was put into WRAG I would appeal, but read on Benefit & Work website last week that people doing so may not get paid anything whilst awaiting the appeal hearing, which could take months.

    The advice I was given this afternoon by Age Concern was that before making a decision I should phone DWP and ask for ESA85 report, the score sheet and a GL24 appeal form. Then to read report and score sheet to see if I disagree with what is said and can supply supporting evidence on anything I query before deciding to fill in the GL24 form. Also told I must do all this within a month of the decision. So in the morning I plan to phone DWP and ask for the documents. Maybe you could do the same? If I hear anything else regarding the matter I'll be sure to let you know.

    Good luck

    Em xxx

  • Hi Em

    I've had 2 appointments with my local CAB - I'm fortunate as my husband has been able to take me otherwise I wouldn't be able to get there either - they helped me with the ESA form and now an appeal and claim for DLA. They've been very good and really kind and helpful but are quite non-plussed why I wasn't put into the support group instead of the WRAG. Like you I gathered letters of support together from 2 consultants and my GP but to no avail. I can't quite understand why it is that a GP can sign you off sick when you do work why their word isn't good enough for this...???

    It also makes me so mad that ATOS can be so sneaky - why should we have to ASK for the report - they lack transparency in everything they do and there's lots of people on here who have said that they write things that are just not true, it's disgraceful. I didn't have a medical but the way that the points are awarded should be included with the letter - as should an appeal form - but no those have to be acquired separately!!!

    I really hope you can get something resolved - this whole system is flawed, unfair and putting pressure and causing stress to the very people who can't take it. I know all the stress and extra worry has made me quite unwell and am sure that many others feel the same.

    Good luck. xx

  • I agree that we should be given copies of our reports and score sheets without asking, after all this is about us, and their response to some of the most intimate questions we have ever had to answer.

    It is the whole stress thing that is putting me off appealing, I don't know if I could cope with waiting 9 months or more for an appeal, and going through it all over again. I have been bad enough these past couple of weeks since sending in the ESA 50 form. Unlike yourself I don't have a partner, so when Contribution based ESA ends in 9 months, I could apply for the income related ESA, but I will wait until I see the report and score sheet before making my decision.

    If I find the report and scores inaccurate then I will appeal, but if I cannot supply evidence or support for anything I refute, then it is unlikley to make any difference.

  • Has anyone who is not terminally ill ever managed to get into the support group? Let's face it even people who are terminally ill have been told that they are to go into the WRAG group!

    I think most of the Job Centre + staff are quite uncomfortable about putting us through this charade and would rather be helping those who are genuinely fit and able back into work; as it is they are just inflicting the torture of Cameron's spite against the disabled.

    Julie xx

  • If I have to go to my local Job Centre, I needn't worry about them ever fnding me a job. My son has a degree and a string of 'A' levels. In the two years since he graduated, he has been going there regularly, but they haven't done a single thing to help him find a job, so as I am unable to return to the work I am trained for I wish them luck in knocking up a CV for me.

    Em xx

  • HA!!! Yes I agree Em!!!

    Like you I would be quite unable to do the job I trained for (for nearly 5 years!!!!!!) so would be in exactly the same position. Now, being unable to do any sort of "physical" job as in stacking shelves etc or well, thinking broadly, ANY job I wish them luck in actually finding me one... I believe that in around 4 years (or less) this extremely stupid system will come crashing down around the deaf ears of those who just ain't listening now!!!!!!!!!!! But where does that leave us right now??? It's also the fact that at the Job Centre you get treated like a criminal - it certainly is not a pleasant experience going there and I feel for you if you are doing this all on your own. Is there a friend/neighbour or anyone that you could ask to go with you just for companionship and support? Even if they don't really understand or are unable to give you advice just by BEING there makes you feel so much better!! Perhaps there is a support group in your area where you could find someone who does home visits - this may not be a "Fibro" support group but one run by your doctor (my GPs do a home visit buddy-type support group) as these visitors will often do things like that with you... ... ... :-)

    My son also graduated this year with an BSc Hons (1st class) degree but is working sorting medical notes at a centre locally!!!!!!! His field of expertise is Environmental Science so NOT what he was trained to do... It's really tough for young people today & I wish your son well in finding the job that he really WANTS to do!!!!

    Gentle hugs xx

  • I just spent the best part of the last hour on the telephone trying to find the right department to request these forms, and have been passed from pillar to post. In the end I was passed through to a very nice lady at my local Job Centre. She said it was the wrong office - again, but would try to help me. She is sending out an appeal form right away, though not too sure if I can get the other forms. If not I will wait for the 'official' letter which she tells me has been sent out, and get the contact details from there.

    She advised that because I am actually in the WRAG group and have not been refused ESA that I would not lose out financially by appealing, so if I have nothing to lose, I may as well go for it, but will check that further before leaping in with both feet.

    So sorry to read your son also could not get a decent job, at least for now he has something, but after all his studying it is disheartening. My son has his degree in Geography, so a similar field to your son. Unfortunately he also has Asperger Syndrome which is holding him back, so my next job is to ratthe the cage of the job centre and get hi an appointment with a Disability Officer, as he clearly needs more help than he is currenty getting.

    No, there is no-one to go with me or support me, no groups that I am aware of either, but I will get by. I am getting pretty accustomed to having to continually fight for my rights and also help my son, it is almost a way of life now :(

    Best of luck with your appeal, I will keep you updated with my progress, feel free to PM me if you wish

    Em xx

  • Hi Em

    Lovely to hear from you!

    I'm also in the WRAG & yes there's nothing to lose by appealing!! I really hope that there's a little ray of sunshine for us both on the horizon!!! I'll let you know through a PM what happens with me as I'll probably know before you as my appeal has gone in at the end of last week... Not that this will really give you any indication on whether you get 'heard' and put into the support group of course but it's always good to swap experiences.

    My eldest boy, now 29, has Asperger's Syndrome!! There was a thread recently about having a child with AS when you have fibro, did you see it???

    Liam (my son) wandered from job to job, well career to career - he did so many courses and trained for this and that until my head span but was fortunate enough to always be in work. Then, at 25, he found his niche. I'd always said he should go "into computers" as this was his obsession but of course mothers don't know anything... Anyway he trained himself or rather just seemed to "know" things and have a natural aptitude for it all. He went on to take all the microsoft exams and got his degree, which he funded while working at this and that. He then got a good job for the NHS as a computer consultant for 4 years and was reasonably happy there but not really "stretched" if you know what I mean. Recently he was head-hunted for a top job working for the police on their National Computer System, which is where he is now. He's really landed on his feet at last and is very happy surrounded by other "computer geeks"!!!!!! They all talk the same language there and his *differences* are lost... At last I feel happy and content about him and know he's made it after such a huge struggle in life. He wasn't diagnosed until he was 15 (2 weeks before leaving school!!!!!!!!!!!!) and school was a total waste of time and a nightmare for him. Teachers and other pupils alike took instant dislikes and well... ... ... I probably don't need to tell you what it's like!!!! I know AS affects people differently so am obviously unaware of how it challenges your own son but there IS hope!!!!

    I actually started a group for children when Liam was diagnosed with the speech and language therapist at my doctor's surgery who I also knew through work. We used to meet in my house - there were 8 members then - until I got diagnosed with cancer and became to unwell - the speech and language therapist took over the running of the group, which had then been established for nearly a year and was growing. She moved it to the actual doctor's surgery so that they would have a larger room and on it went. The last time I heard from her (about 4 years ago now) there were over 1,000 members (!!!) with groups being divided into age groups and meeting at a sports centre!! She said then that the group was then going to split into different areas as it was still growing and becoming far too big. This would also help people who couldn't attend because of travel problems. I was amazed and delighted that from a few parents and children meeting and having coffee and cakes in my sitting room all this should result but then knew that AS had been widely missed for children and young adults of Liam's age group and older but was now being picked up earlier and earlier, obviously resulting in lots of people with the need for such a group. I am sorry to hear that your son still appears not to be receiving all the help and support he (& you) need though.

    Good luck with getting the help you need for your son - perhaps make some enquiries about a local group to you..???. Always fighting for this and that is not an easy road to travel but you're doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances with your own health problems.

    My fingers are crossed for you both.

    Please let me know how you get on with your appeal too?

    Gentle Hugs

    xx

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