National Migraine Centre
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ESA Tribunal

Hi. I feel like a rant so here goes. I left work about 4 years ago and applied for ESA after being assessment I was awarded 0 points which was then increased to 15 when I spoke to them on the phone. I stayed on ESA for 3 years until i was assessed again. I was awarded 0 points, after M. R. I was still awarded 0 points so I went to Tribunal which I had yesterday.

I used Citizens Advice to prepare my application for Tribunal and they said to use my depression to gain points and then bring in how my migraines are linked to that. Stupidly I didn't prepare very well and had no evidence from my Doctor. I was asked all sorts of questions and I explained how the headaches and migraines impact my life at any time and not just 9-5. The doctor asked me if I ever miss anything because of them and I told him I missed an open day on Sunday at the place I volunteer. He picked up on that and asked me how often I was unable to volunteer because of my illness. I volunteer for 3 hours an afternoon, 3 days a week so it's easier to cope with and I can call in sick or go home if I'm too ill. When I was called in for the decision I was told that because I worked before then there was no reason why I can't work now. They awarded me 0 points. To me that says that they did not listen to me at all and have no concept of how debilitating headaches and migraines are. I feel at rock bottom now and don't know what to do next. I just can't get my head around getting ZERO POINTS!. rant over.

8 Replies
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It's absolutely crap how chronic migraine isn't being recognised as a disability 😣

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I was on DLA for about ten years- I have Border-line personality disorder, acute anxiety, IBS, chronic insomnia, fibromyalgia and chronic migraines over 15 days a month and I got 0 points when I was re-assessed for ESA. I last worked 20 years ago i'm completely reliant on my husband's income and bc I don't work we don't qualify for the free nursery hours. So bc I can't earn money bc I'm too ill I can't get free money for the government that could help my children and me. Aaaaghhh.......so in short I know how you feel!

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You don't have it easy, you've got my sympathy. can't understand why we get zero points. It makes no sense. If they could experience it for an hour they would think differently. As for the Dr at the tribunal awarding me zero, I'm shocked.

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They've never been good with changeable illnesses and hidden illness however much they say they have progressed. We new they would probably take it away I didn't have the energy to appeal. I had to a go to tribunal the first time I applied and I couldn't face all that again.

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I've been where you're at now far too many times and it's a dreadful situation to be in. :-(

As you may be aware you now have 2 choices - fight it, or, if it's been more than 6 months since the WCA decision to disallow you, and your condition has changed, make another claim.

Although the temptation is to make a fresh claim i.e. restart the ESA process be aware there could be distinct DISadvantages in doing this e.g if you fail the WCA again then you cannot claim sickness benefits at all whilst waiting for an appeal hearing - you'd have to claim e.g. JSA or UC instead.

Also, be particularly aware of making a fresh claim if your area has gone over to UC. The rule of thumb, for the majority, is to remain on "legacy benefits" e.g. ESA for as long as you can - let them migrate you over, don't volunteer to as you may be worse off.

It's REALLY important that you take benefits advice from an independent advisor asap. PLEASE DON'T rely on DWP for advice - I've been constantly poorly advised by them and have suffered financial loss because of their poor decision making and truly disgraceful abuse as I have the courage to challenge them over such.

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I am still trying to get my head around things so I don't know who to go to for advice. I am not sure if U C has started yet in my area. A big part of me says to just go out and work but then I remember how trapped I was in my last job, working with a bad head or a migraine is awful.

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I'd say one thing at a time and don' t force yourself into a situation that may make you even more poorly.

Take advice first ...

If you do decide to fight the decision it has to be because you think the law has been misapplied, or because the administration has gone array.

It might be an idea to request a Statement of Reasons, in writing, anyway. You have 1 month of the date of the appeal hearing to do this, but the sooner the better.

The Upper Tribunal is like going to court even more than the First Tier Tribunal was and it can take months to get there. You should have a specialist to represent you. If CAB have been involved before they may be a good place to start...

Where I'm based is awful for getting welfare advice and I've had to do my own fighting. However, someone via an ESA support group on Facebook recommended an independent welfare worker and, curiously, I've managed to tap into their advice as my GP practice is located in a deprived area and it's one of their services...

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Hi,

Forgive me, but I didn't think ESA was a point system, I thought that was PIP. I'm not sure if the same rules apply, but for PIP you can appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

I know that it seems like a lot, but it may well be the only way to get the benefit reinstated.

The process would be:

ask for a written copy of the decision

review it as thoroughly as you can - try not to get emotional

compose a letter, firstly stating you are appealing & why

then bullet point your response to each point in the decision document.

It's important to be factual and honest, but it's equally important to relate all info based on your worst days. Under ESA rules you can volunteer up to a certain number of hours, in fact you can even work part time. I don't remember the number of hours, sorry.

I have been through 4 tribunals & written several appeals, including an upper tribunal appeal. All were successful.

If you want more help, PM me & I will do my best to help.

Catmag.

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