Help with DLA, ESA, ATOS and appeals please?

Please can someone help me? I am getting into a right mess with all of these forms and I really need help....I am sorry this is so long but.....

I had an operation 26/1/12. I contracted a staphylococcus infection and the stitches split open...it was a doctor different to my own and he wouldnt touch it, a&e wouldnt accept me back in and the medical ward wouldnt take me back. I was really very poorly and looking back should have argued more but ended up steri-stripping my wound and had over 6 weeks on anti-biotics. It healed but have never been the same since :?

I put in a claim in February for ESA as I was unable to work, was told as I got Working tax credit I wasnt eligible for it..still had to send them sick notes though. Then I started receiving a small amount of ESA about May time and was called for a interview/assessment with ATOS. At the time I was unwell with post op complications and plantar facistis...thats all I had the ATOS assessment for. I didnt hear anything from that interview for months but was placed in the support group.

July time I was diagnosed with Fybromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue syndrome by a Rheumatologist. I put in a claim for DLA as I seem to be getting worse over time not better. DLA turned down 15/8//12. I appealed straight away with help from CAB. I have just heard today that the appeal has failed and due to the assessment in May by ATOS...they have decided I am fine to work and do not have cause to claim.

I also received a letter two weeks ago stating I wasnt entitled to ESA as I scored 0 points with ATOS in May. I have appealed and am back on the assessment phase monies. As I am still of work on sick I cannot claim anything else.

I am in agony daily in all of my joints, especially my back,

I see a physio, have just started getting help from the pain clinic.

I fall regularly and loose control of my legs, cannot walk very far at all.

I have difficulty looking after myself and my children and as a result my children are doing a lot of the caring for me

My hands dont work

The fog is making life impossible

I do not go out of the house other than to drop the children off at school/pick them up (they come to me in the car) as I cannot cope with busy spaces now and panic.

I cannot cook a meal (ATOS say I can though) but I cant and were living off junk food.

My doctor offered me support from Social services BUT my friend said they will tell me to rehome my animals, we have dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits all of which are very well looked after (the children help with their care, clean them out, walk them etc) but my friend (who is disabled) is adamant they can make me rehome them or refuse DLA as having them means I could work. Aside from my children (who are my world) my pets are my reason for carrying on and I am so scared I loose them so refused Social services help.

Sorry its so long but needed to let it all out somewhere. I am sat in agony, crying and worrying. What next? Can I appeal the DLA appealk refusal based on the fact they have decided my future based on an assessment that was made when I didn't have Fybromyalgia and CFS and it has gotten so much worse since then? Who can I get help from as the CAB dont seem to have done me any favours but I get so mixed up with forms and concentrating (been writing this post for an hour! lol). All of the ATOS findings in May do not reflect my needs/abilities now.

18 Replies

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  • Greetings Helen,

    Please get some proper advice from a specialist disability charity or solicitor who deals with welfare benefits. I lost 2 apepals for DLA and attended a tribunal on Wednesday where I was awarded higher rate mobility but no presonal care. I did it on my own with advice from an advocate who was not able to attend.

    Atos work for the DWP in as far as that they operate a bonus scheme and are told to keep as many people off benefits as possible. I had an Atos medical in Dec 11 where it said I would be back at work in 3 months. Nearly a year later and my condition has worsened.

    I lost a tribunal earlier this year for ESA and had to reapply. I'm waiting on another Atos medical but I have requested that it be recorded due to the lies told on the last one.

    Get as much written medical evidence as you can.

    Please don't stress over it. I know its hard but you are not alone. Get professional advice as CAB's are overworked at the moment.

    Take care and be very blessed xxx

  • Thank you. I have emailed my area support group for help, I found the email addy on the Fibro action website, hopefully they can point me in the right direction. Where would I look for a good solicitor to help me with this please?

    Medical evidence.... the Rheumatologist was not wonderful...I saw him for possibly a total of 20 mins (if I am generous) over two occasions.

    My doctor...I dont feel listens to me but did write a very nice letter backing up my condition.

    Who else can I ask for supporting evidence please?

  • thefru.org.uk/

    The above link is for the free representation unit. A friend used one of their solicitors for an employment tribunal and won. I found out about them too late to use them. If you follow the link you should be able to find someone in your area who deals with benefits.

    My gp was less than useless throughout my whole illnes. He's retired now and the new guy made me pay £45 for a medial report (it was a hand written letter!) but I think it helped. I think you saw your rheumatologist for longer than I saw mine lol!!! But find out if they will help you out with a medical report anyway. Its worth a try. Even if they write a letter stating all your medical conditions and how long you've had them.

    I hope I've helped in some way and you feel a bit better about it. I know its really stressful and i spent hours stressing out too but it only makes your condition worse.

    xxx

  • You have helped thank you, its given me some much needed direction. Ive got myself so cross about all this, I would love to go back to work as I miss it so much but at the moment I have no chance of getting back...perhaps in the future with the help from the pain clinic I might.

    I have got a letter written by my doctor to work to inform them of the condition...I will use that. I will also contact the Rheumatologist department for help. Wonder if I can get a letter from the pain clinic too?

    I will have a look on that link now thanks :-)

  • go to FibroAction site,

    click on fibro and benefits

    this should take you to the benefits and work link where you can download the pdf

    booklet that helps you fill in forms for ESA & DLA. use the benefits & work info to

    fill in the health conditions part and give it to your gp so he can write a support letter. ask

    him to send it to you to go in your appeal or claim pack [make copies] ask consultants to do same.

    good luck,

    sandra.

  • I found having an occupational therapist and physiotherapist. And just having received a lot of equipment to help me, helped my case in the end, I also did a diary of what a whole week was like for me. I was awarded LR care and I asked for them to review and I've now got HR of both. I was thinking of putting in new claim until I got my letter. Some people have done that maybe as fibro and CFS were diagnosed after you should try another claim, I would. Good luck to you xx

  • hi helen i am sorry u r going through a bad time and you r having to fight for all benefits i have also had to do the same, but the second time i had my ESA turned around as was put in the support group,

    There is a group on the internet which may help they did me, it is benefitsandwork.co.uk they will show you how to fill the forms out and how to appeal, i would also consider to put in new claim with fibro in mind they should look at your claim on this meaning and not as your last claim, they helped with my ESA claim but i am also going throught a appeal with DLA, we have to fight i am sorry to say, hope this helps soft hugs keep your chin up xx

  • Hi agai, Ive just posted a list of the links that helped me fight my case. The may help. I've also put a link to the Atos training manual. It may be worth a look xxx

  • Thank you for the comments. Its good to know that others have fought and won :-)

    One on the reasons on the DLA refusal was that I can drive for a short period of time to take the boys to school, their schools are too far to walk but only 5 and 10 mins away in the car. I am a single mum with no outside support so have to do that journey (although it is becoming increasingly impossible to do).

    I feel I would like to justify that with a response, my youngest is only 10 and far too young to go by bus himself (and I would never make it to a bus stop let alone accompany him). Have others come across this? It is literally the only time I go out of my house apart from when they go to training and I sit in the car and watch them (the car is parked less than 3 meters away from my kitchen door so that is the only walking I do).

    I will have a good read through all the links and try and get my head around the fight ahead! I'm not going to give in though :-)

  • DLA is NOT a work related benefit. DLA is there to help with the additional cost of being disabled regardless if you are in work or not so I'm not sure if they would hold the fact that you have some animals at home as a barrier to getting it - especially if they are cared for by others in the household.

    ESA on the other hand is a whole different ball game - just about anything you are able to do seems to be held against you as proof that you are fit for work. (You'll find some examples here in an article about a nurse who used to work for ATOS: dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scot... )

    The ESA assessment can apparently be used if it's findings are at odds with a claim for DLA for example if someone is on HR Mobility and the ESA assessor reckons they can walk better and/or for a distance further than would qualify for HRM then DWP can look at the DLA award again.

    Anyone, it doesn't need to be a medical professional, who knows you and how your illness/disability affects you can write something in support of your claim - if they have to help you to get on with aspects of your daily life then so much the better.

    It really is important to get proper advice from CAB or a similar organisation - if you have a sympathetic MP try and get them involved, some have even gone to tribunals with constituents.

  • hi, just wanted to let you know about dog situation , i have 2 big dogs, who are very well behaved on the lead,but i would not dream of telling esa/atos about them. if it did slip out i would say that my daughter looked after them. because it doesnt matter what you say, they will interpret it as you being able to do anything. i only walk my dogs in morning and very very slowly, luckily they are getting oldernow, my daughter does afternoons, as ive no energy left by then. also do not tell them you sit in car, in fact unless its motability car, i wouldnt even mention it, as they asked me many moons ago if i could drive, and i said yes, even yhough i didnt have a car. they ended up saying on form that i had no problem driving??. do not volunteer any informatio as they twist everything.its sad but you have to imagine its your worst day, when filling out forms,or going/speaking to esa/atos. hope this helps a bit, also my dogs are my life, as i dont go out antwhere or speak to anyone much, so i would be devestated if anyone tried to take my dogs, but please dont worry as this will not happen toyou,,as ive said tell anyone that your family look after the ewlfare of all your animals. good luck.

  • Thank you. Its so hard isn't it...to some 'its only dogs' to me their my family and if that means loosing out because of them I will. I couldn't be without them...unless I thought they were suffering as a result of my illness which they're not (if anything they're happier now as I don't leave them to go to work and we have each others company 24/7).

    When they asked me how I got my children to school I answered that I did. If I have to go for another assessment again should I say my mum?

  • you say that its becoming harder for you with driving,i also dont think i would be able to drive anymore ,not only because of physical pain, but also mentally im not good horrendous migranes, total confusion,uptight over littlest things, very argumentative/aggresive verbally, dont think i could cope, i mean i know i couldnt drive, id be a hazzard to everyone. got to see doc, as im getting worse in the head, totally losing it. anyway ive changed subject. by sounds of things doesnt look like you will be driving much longer without an adapted car, so you could possibly say that youve since stopped driving and maybe look to see who could drive for you, your mother possibly or friend, neighbour, or another mother at school. maybe worth talking to school or friend, to see if they could assist you with getting children to school?. hope it all works out. ps. personnally speaking i would not get involved with social services, as once you let them in you will never get rid of them, and they caus so much hasstle, but thats my opinion.

  • just read through your letter again,i didnt have fibro when i first appealed, i hadnt been diagnosed yet. so i was refused ,needless to say ikept trying and this time i was diagnosed so you should maybe try again as i understand you werent diagnosed first time, im not saying its easy, as im fighting a new battle myself, and have been doing so for years. why not try your councillor for some help or advise, dont be intimidated by this, as they are looking for votes from everyone, so its in there intrest to help you, mine does, but you have to make them understand that you need there help to fight this. also id say welfare rights are better that social services, just dont let them know all your buisness, they can help, but they dont need to know everything. be aware that esa/atos/dwp/ will if possible try to catch you out on anything, even if you are telling them the whole truch, sometimes it does not work to youe advantage to be forthright in what you say, just think things through first. im on disability living allowance, and as ive said ive got 2 big dogs, actually i dont think i mentioned them, it didnt come up on form.? also wouldnt look very good, with animal rights, rspca, etc if anyone tried, i say tried because they would have as hell of afight on there hands if they tried to go near my dogs..as long as theyre fed watered get enough exercise/stimulation then they are 100 times better off with you. both my dogs are rescued, and i brought them back from cyprus were they were being abused (they dont treat animals well over there) thats when i was well off cost me £2000, so im not about to let some unfeeling animal hater take them away , again hope this has made you feel less anxious over the animals /. good luck.

  • Thanks, yes it does make me feel better :-) I didnt put on the ESA/DLA forms about the dogs purely because nobody asked and the kids do the exercising/care for me, that's what put me off about social services...anyone visiting would see we have a happy home with plenty of pets.

    As bad as it sounds the social services coming in doesn't worry me so much for the children as they're old enough to speak up and say they're fine, well loved, well dressed, doing well at school etc.

    I have been in touch with the guy from CAB helping me with the appeal...he didn't sound surprised by all the paperwork I had received and said a questionnaire will follow...ring him when it does. Does this sound right?

  • sorry ,only just read your blog. my cab have an ex nurse working for them, and she helped me fill dla forms out. they will help with dla forms, but my cab wont help with esa forms. i know that welfare rights will, and to be honest if you can get any help all the better, because its all in the wording. i went to see my welfare rights at office, as it was near enough, but they will visit at home if you prefer. definitely ring cab when you have all paperwork, and they will help to fill dla forms out. your cab might be different and also help with esa forms. hope this helps.

  • Well the update is....

    Had a phonecall from ESA yesterday to ask what my changes were since the ATOS assessment in May...I told him everything had changed I had developed the fybro and CFS am virtually housebound and the boys are caring for me. Medication has changed and will be changing a lot as Im under the pain clinic. He is referring me to the people who deal with re-assessments to see if they will allow my details to change??? It would mean going for another ATOS assessment but I am happy to do that.

    The questionnaire for the DLA appeal arrived yesterday so it seems that the big pile of papers telling me I had failed the appeal were not that but all the DWP's info as to why they failed the DLA. I will have to go to a tribunal to appeal my DLA (scary stuff). The CAB guy will help me with all of that though.

    Its all very new, very draining and a bit scary but I am deffo going to fight it :-)

  • Further update is CAB have helped me with an appeal and I now have another medical on Saturday morning, followed at some point by a tribunal for both my ESA and DLA. I have supporting evidence from my GP, Specialist, Rheumatology physio and physio for my foot, all has been submitted to the appeal. I'm soooo worried about it all :-(

    Does anyone have any tips for the medical? Anything I should take with me as evidence or will they ignore it? I know that my appeal is justified but am getting myself into a right state about it all.

    Does anyone have any advice?

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