Advice on ESA needed

My husband has been diagnosed with nerve damage to his right leg he had a discectomy 8 years ago and we've been through the worst 8 years ever. He's currently on Tramadol and Amitriptyline and we are waiting to see the INPUT pain management team at St Thomas' in the hope that they will be able to get him to manage his pain better.

He was on Incapacity Benefit which then changed to ESA. But he was only "allowed" to be on ESA in a Work-related activity group (WRAG) for 365 days. The WRAG lasted two years which ended in May of this year. This is run by Shaws Trust and in the two years he was there all they did with him was write a CV and covering letter. They made no attempt in helping him find work at all. I had written to my local MP on several occasions asking for him to get involved as I feel that disabled people are just put in a pot like everyone else and things are not tailored to their needs. I don't feel there is enough support out there for people like my husband. On talking to the manager of Shaws Trust he said that because my husband is on Tramadol that this would "scare" employers as it is am opiod. In my opinion if he can do the job why all of this red tape. So now my husband does not attend any group and has been referred back to the Jobcentre to a DEA and since May there has been no contact so I feel as though my husband has been left out on a limb! I just wondered if anyone else has had the same experience or if there is any more I should be doing. I only work part-time and I'm trying to support the family as much as I can. My husband wants to work and is volunteering but it's not the same as having money in your pocket!

5 Replies

  • I fought to be placed in the Support Group and won. I've done that four times now. I was on Tramadol when I was working and am now on Oxcodone, I know plenty of people who have held down a job whilst using Tramadol in fact. It's how it affects you, if it doesn't make you drowsy, which it never did me, then there isn't a problem is there?

    My problems are similar to your husbands, although my discs are now in my neck and cause arm pain as well as the discs in the lower part of my spine causing leg pain. So, I would say for your husband to fight. If he wants to work, and can, then to start applying for jobs off his own bat.

  • Hi Jayne,

    Thanks for the reply. He was told that once he had been on the WRAG and sent back to the Jobcentre he couldn't be re-referred unless this is different over the country. He has been applying for jobs but he is restricted to what he can do but he has been applying for those that he can do and although they won't say it to your face and because of the discrimination act but they always seem to ask what is wrong with you and then you never get an interview. Employers are supposed to be diverse but a lot of them don't want to employ because of the risk a disabled person is, they shouldn't do it but we all know they do! It's incredibly frustrating!

  • As far as I know he can re-apply for ESA, has it ended now, think you said May?

    As for applying for jobs etc, I was always up front with employers and ASDA were fantastic. They pulled out all the stops, special back chair, I was allowed to use my crutches on the shop floor, more breaks and help if I needed it. When I had to finish because I was just suffering too much pain, they told me there was always a job opening for me. Can't see it happening any time soon mind you! X

  • I can empathise with your husband and yourself because I have been in a similar position. Some options that could be considered include:-

    1. Getting the details for "Permitted Work" which may enable him to work part time and earn up to £100 per week on top of his benefits. Enquire at the Job Centre or through Direct Gov if Shaws Trust do not have the details.

    2. Consider whether getting the Benefits re-assessed might be beneficial. If he has the details/evidence about how severely the pain is affecting his everyday life - or he has another health condition as well - he may be able to apply to be in the "Support Group" of E.S.A. or apply for D.L.A. (which is NOT means tested). He should still be able to apply for the Permitted Work scheme even on these benefits.

    Wishing you the best.

  • Thanks Robbo. He is in receipt of DLA the mobility component and uses this towards a motability car which gives him so much more greater independence but he is worried that it will be taken off of him when he is assessed for PIP and this will be yet another hurdle he will have to face! He recently has an ATOS assessment in April which said at the end he would be fit for work in 2 years? He has enquired at the jobcentre in the past about permitted work but to be honest they were not much help. It just frustrates me how the government can say that they are helping those that need it most yet all they seem to be doing it taking it away! Thanks for the advice - always appreciated!

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