ESA: Instigated by the post ' Reading Reports about... - Headway

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Instigated by the post ' Reading Reports about yourself'

One of the most negative and disheartening reports I have ever had to type out and check through with my brain injured daughter was her recent ESA benefits assessments form.

This has to be the most NEGATIVE report I have ever had to type.

To list and explain what a person CANNOT DO when put onto paper and read is depressing.

Would just like to thank this Government for making my daughter feel worthless.

PS she now has her decision on this and she has been put into the Support Group.

12 Replies

I'm not really sure what to think about this. It's a benefits claim form and I'm guessing that is purpose is simply to provide information necessary to assess a claimant's abilities. As such, what do you think it should do differently? If your daughter *can't* do X or Y, then she can't, and that, sadly, is just fact. I can fully understand the such a list can be demoralising and depressing, and I can understand your anger, but I'm not sure it's fair to blame the government for making somebody feel worthless in this circumstance.

in reply to nemo_really

Nemo, No you don't 'fully understand" unless you have been through the process of claiming benefits with a brain injury. Your comment has added to my ongoing stress with this issue. K

I feel the same every time a benefits form has to be filled in. The horrid thing is that you have the uncertainty of nog not knowing if they believe your difficulty of that they believe it affects your daily livening it can be very disheartening.

in reply to Danslatete

im in the support group on reports sent by the gp psychiatrist and neuro pschiatrist......on information my wife had initialy put on the form preceeded by a 6month sick note from my gp

When I went to the appeals tribunal over my first claim, they recognised I shouldn't be going through all the stress that goes with these forms/claims, put me in the support group and recommended that I was not assessed again but the DWP ignored that and I'm now awaiting a reply regarding my second claim I've had to submit, after this second medical I've been assessed again as limited capability for work, so have asked for a re-assessment if they don't put me in the support group I'll have to go to tribunal again.

What a waste of money, my stress levels are lower this time though, I can cope better now I'm another 12 months on and if necessary I'll jump through all their hoops, who's going to employ a 61 year old woman with brain damage, severe fatigue issues, can't function in noisy environments or talk for more than about half an hour? Oh and retires next July.

The fact that I've worked and paid national insurance from the age of 19 and never claimed any sickness benefit all those years and wouldn't be now but for the BI counted for nothing. Ah well, rules are rules, just a shame they are so inflexible, my son has been having similar problems with his daughter who has a rare genetic illness and means that at 17 she still only has the mental age of a 9yr old, with mobility problems, anyway you get my drift, I've only come to this recently, he'll have a lifetime of it unless they change the rules.

Janet xx

in reply to Kirk5w7

It makes me cross that you must be costing the tax payer lots of money with your ESA claim, the medical assessment, and all the report writing etc, and then the cost of appeal with the judges salary, their admin staff, and solicitors advocacy, CAB people not to mention the running costs of the court building. There has got to be a better way of getting the right decision.

I struggle to manage the 'forms' especially the decision making around what to put and how to put it. In the past I sent off for DLA forms but then never managed to fill them in. I had help with ESA forms by a SS Benefits Worker initially and then an OT from the Brain Injury Team as yearly I would have to resubmit the medical review. As my BI seems to have plateaued with still significant cognitive, emotional, and social behavioural problems I recently sent off for PIP forms. Filling them in though almost became more than I could manage as no longer had access to those people that helped me before. After a lot of distress and agonizing about who, how and what, to the point that I decided it couldn't be done and I put it in the bin telling myself I wouldn't have stood a chance of being entitled to it anyway so why put myself through all the stress, distress and worrying anyway. But then I got angry that I shouldn't be denied it just because I couldn't get over the hurdle of form filling so retrieved it. I then took 10 days or more piecing it together from other peoples words in appointment letter, previous ESA forms, info and booklets etc. It exhausted me and was consequently in a foul, irritated mood for ages which my son sometimes inappropriately bore the brunt of. However, I know if you don't put it down there, the 'cannot do' on the form you may as well not bother to apply as it will just end up with a failed benefit application. I do totally understand how demoralizing and upsetting it is to acknowledge it, write it and then read it in black and white because life's focus has to be on what we can do otherwise like me you end up in a very bleak and depressed state because you get hooked on what you can no longer do and how you want your old self back - the one who was parenting, working and making the most of life without feeling limited and stupid because your cognitive abilities and intelligence has been screwed up. I end up with an overwhelming feeling of being useless and a failing mother but I have to try and tell myself it is just a form of information of difficulties and that doesn't mean the balance of good positive things about me is outweighed it just means i have to manage day to day life differently and in my own way. Yes it is a negative form and experience but I don't think the government could assess us in any other way and the great thing is your daughter has got her ESA award and been put in the support group. Hopefully the benefit will enable her to focus on what she can now positively use the money for to make life a bit more worthwhile and forget the darn form! Best wishes to you both x

I know what you mean, headchild, this time last year we were re-applying for DLA for my brain injured son - what a depressing and negative experience. I think that, as a family, we naturally try to keep focussing on the positives, on the things our son CAN still do ok, on any improvements in his condition or his ability to cope with his problems and when we have to fill out any forms like these we are forced to go back and confront all the many negatives that he now has to live with as a result of his accident. Inevitably, in my case at least, this lead to remembering (and missing) 'J mark 1' (as we refer to his pre-accident self) for a while, instead of continuing to concentrate on supporting (both practically and emotionally) 'J mark 2'. A thoroughly demoralising experience for all of us.

I find the whole benefit claim form filling thing exhausting and demoralising. Having to list my deficits and put into writing the bare truth of how crappy things really are sucks the life out of a person...and to then be subjected to a grilling by a stranger in a horrid little room some place really inconvenient to get to is the icing on a very unpleasant cake.

Just when I got all of my assorted ducks in a row and was on life time awards for everything they went and changed the system...and instead of one reassessment I have to face separate assessments...the first was the Incapacity to ESA... but the one I am really dreading is the DLA to PIP.

I do understand the government needs to be sure that any available funding goes to those who really need it, but the system as it is now is totally flawed, truly sucky and really stressful for the claimant.

It seems I am not alone in my thoughts on this.

The form is long and some of the questions difficult to answer.

We try and be positive by thinking what we 'can do' but this forms focuses on what we 'can't do'

How my disability affects me is what they want.

Once completed and read back it makes for depressing reading.

It's like a smack in the face to see everything put down!

As someone has said there must have been a cheaper way to to assess everyone - it's been farcical and then we have the DLA to PIP to contend with.


It is incredibly depressing and stressful completing these forms on your own and even for a carer who has no experience at all of this.

I had a professional job and worked all my life, sixty nearly with acquired brain injury and epilepsy.

But I "look" ok. As it is, I have gone from being someone who could complete these forms for another at one a doddery eejit with poor recall and lots of "hidden difficulties".

(I can make an excellent cup of instant coffee though..... if you don't mind gravy granules and milk! )

I cannot use the phone as I talk gibberish at times.

The process started with me getting a letter to ring the DWP re a transfer from incapacity benefit to ESA. My relative who is my carer rang them and explained that I had difficulty using the phone.

The first DWP person who answered refused to talk to my carer ( who claims carers allowance for looking after me) because of "Data protection" . It was all down hill after that....

My carer got help from the Benefits and Work website who are independent of the DWP. I recommend getting their help as to how the system works.

Too many people who are genuinely entitled to get financial help give up or are put off. I nearly gave up too...

i know its degrading. im a married man and weve recently moved and i had to watch my wife do 95% of the packing humping things i should have been able to help with.

my bi is due to a stroke 31/2yrs ago.

do you go to your local headway support group?


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