After a conversation with my psychiatrist and a request from a fellow ticcer with regards to an upcoming Work Capability Assessment for some helpful information I though I might put together a “survival kit”, there isn’t as such any specific advice available with regards to ESA applicants who have TS, but I’m sure I can remedy that if that’s what people would like, but here and now here’s the “ESA survival kit”. I hope it helps.
I also think that it would be very useful for anybody who works with people with TS consultants, nurses, social workers etc should read this blog post just s an illustration to show what we go through and also to show how ATOS are disregarding any information they provide about a patient and inhuman the process is. This is what was upsetting my psychiatrist, he was angered about how many of his patients had been deemed fit to work by ATOS and had suffered relapses.
Over the last few months myself and my cousin have been acquiring a mass of online information about ESA and ATOS which we thought we would share, because that’s what we’re like, it’s in our genes to be helpful. So apologies for the large number of links, so please be patient.
When you first apply for ESA as well as the regular sick notes from your GP that you send to the DWP you will need to fill in a long pink form (oo err ) called the ESA – this is what it looks like. indi.org.uk/docs/Guide%20ES... I would suggest if possible getting somebody to help you complete it, so if you have a CPN, care co-coordinator, social worker, get them to help you, if not ask an advisor from an organisation such as the Citizen’s Advice Berauruex to help you. Here’s some in-depth advice about completing the ESA50 - scribd.com/doc/65380287/4/F...
After 13 weeks of sending GP’s sick notes to the DWP you will be summoned by ATOS for your Work Capability Assessment. This is the controversial bit that has been troublesome for a lot of people. For example ATOS are paid for each individual WCA and the assessor will get a payment for each person the assess, they will also get more if the test results show that the person is fit to work and then transferred to Jobseeker’s allowance. I think anybody how knows me knows what I think about that!
You will be asked to go along to your nearest ATOS assessment centre, I would strongly advice taking somebody with you, either a profession (i.e. CPN etc) or a partner, relative or friend. Don’t forget they will be watching you from the moment you walk in. When you go in for your assessment you will be asked questions by a “healthcare professional” they may be a doctor or nurse, they most likely do NOT have any experience of TS. Here is an example of some of the questions they may ask and you should watch out for. dwpexamination.wordpress.co... I was asked “Do you have any pets?” to which my answer was “Yes, we have a cat, Pete (partner) makes sure that she’s fed and she’s looked after well, it’s really nice to have her (cat) around as she likes to look after me and cuddles up to me when I’m depressed and in bed.” Another question I was asked was “How did I get here today?” Pete answered “We came on the bus” we then talked about some incidents when people have been abusive towards me in public places which of course left me feeling very upset. With regards to the telephone question on that last particular link I gave examples of how due to my coprolalia call centre operatives have hung up on me and when people have called for my partner when he’s been out and a conversation like this occurs “Did anyone call for me?” “urmmmm…..yes” “who was it?” “I dunno, I can’t remember…..John something or other…..or was his name Dave? I really can’t remember”.
A couple of weeks after you have gone through this assessment you will get a letter confirming which group you have been put into. If the worst happens and you fail and they want to put you on to Jobseekers Allowance take a look at this. blacktrianglecampaign.org/2...
However, if you are happy about going onto JSA and doing the whole signing on and job seeking thing here are some useful tips.
•When you first sign on, at your local Jobcentre Plus tell the advisor you have a disability and if applicable are currently claming DLA, tell them also you would like an appointment with the Disability Employment Advisor.
•When you get to see your DEA (Disability Employment Advisor), bearing in mind there re only 491 of them across the UK, the one I saw at Bedworth JCplus covered the whole of North Warwickshire and part of Coventry. Your DEA will most likely have very little knowledge of TS apart from what they have seen on TV, it would be a good idea to take some information about TS, perhaps some info from the TA website or from your consultant. Remember your DEA is NOT psychic they do not know how your TS effects you and influences what kind of job would be suitable so you NEED to discuss this with them.
•DEAs can be quite a mixed bunch, luckily my DEA was quite a nice, helpful guy, I even jokingly said to him one day that I could do his job, he said ”yes, I think you’d be excellent at this job, but unfortunately the DWP are making big cut-backs and making a lot of staff redundant.” Some people haven’t had such positive experiences, remember to keep your cool.
•Remember when you sign on and the “what have you been doing to look for work” thing and they search their computer system for suitable jobs, they might not be aware of your TS, so if they make any suggestions for unsuitable jobs TELL then and say WHY. It’s been suggested that I apply for receptionist roles ( seriously, they’re having a laugh ) and working in a meat packing factory ( that’s a no, I’ve been vegetarian for most of my life), she did really try and push that one on me though. DON’T let them push you into applying for unsuitable jobs, if you are offered a job that due to your TS would be difficult and you’d have to turn the job offer down you WILL be sanctioned. Also if you don’t apply for enough jobs or do enough to look for jobs within a fortnightly period you WILL get sanctioned. Just try and go along with it and try and keep a cheerful demeanour and then your signing on experience should go smoothly.
•When I was signing on, my DEA and myself thought that it might be helpful to put in some information bout myself and my TS in my “signing-on booklet/card” as often the advisor who is signing you on doesn’t check the relevant parts of your file, before we did this I did startle an advisor.
Whatever your situation though, I would suggest checking out this website disabilityalliance.org/f31.htm The Disability Alliance have lots of useful information with regards to a whole range of different disability benefits.
Before you go please take a moment to sign this petition - epetitions.direct.gov.uk/pe... and tweet it, share it on Facebook and email it to your friends, just please help spread the word.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful, as soon the DWP are transferring the people who are currently claiming Incapacity Benefit to ESA so many more people are going to go through this experience. Also for those who are on ESA or are on IB plans are afoot to put a time limitation on your claim if your partner works. Read this article for more, wheresthebenefit.blogspot.c... that is one of the reasons why it is important to sign the petition and kick up a stink about the Welfare Reform bill.