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PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul 2012, 12:58 
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Joined: Tue 03 Jul 2012, 02:55
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Hi there,

My name's Glenn and I recently signed up to the forum just after my ATOS exam. Such a shame I didn't know about the forum before I sent off the form!

I'm almost 38 and suffer from ME/CFS. I haven't worked since 1998 due to this and was switched from JSA (or whatever the equivalent was at the time) to IS under direction from the DWP because they told me that to claim JSA I needed to basically be able to accept and perform any job that I was offered, which I clearly couldn't do so I was therefore claiming the wrong benefit and needed to sign off and start claiming IS instead. Ironic that it was the DWP who instructed me to do this in the first place, no? I found myself out of work at the time after periods in and out of work due to suffering from anxiety, stress and depression which all came to a head after hellish work conditions. After receiving an official diagnosis from an ME/CFS specialist he explained that I'd likely had the illness from childhood, that the stress at work had hit me hard and so brought out the symptoms to a much greater degree, which could perhaps have all been avoided if I'd had an earlier diagnosis. However, since my daignosis was so late on and that my symptoms were so long-standing and showing no signs of improving, my prognosis wasn't good and he couldn't see me ever recovering completely. Of course all this has been explained to the DWP/Atos many, many times over the years since.

Of all the forms I've had to fill in over the years I think there have only been two occasions when I haven't had to attend Atos examinations. One of these led to me being seen by a very unpleasant doctor who lied left right and centre on her report and thus my benefits were cut. I asked for a redecision but the decision remained the same, so I appealed, went to tribunal and won. I took along a Welfare Rights Officer who was very good in doing research and information but on the day was worse than useless, as it happens. But I won and that was the main thing.

So now yet again I've had to visit Atos and today I received a letter from the DWP saying that I have scored 0 points. Now, whether this is entirely even in agreement with what the Atos doctor said I'm not convinced, as there are certain questions he asked me and things that he clarified that seem to be in stark contrast to what's stated in the reasons and summary given by the DWP decision-maker. For example, I've recently lost my mother and had a lot of stress caring for her for many months. I explained this to the doctor and he said that surely this has caused me a lot of anxiety and difficulties with coping and that surely my illness is worse as a result. I confirmed this and explained in what ways and noticed that he quietly reiterated these things as he was typing. So it appears that the decision-maker has just chosen to ignore what the doctor said, unless the doctor added on to the end that he didn't feel that any of what I told him was significant.

As anyone with (or anyone who knows someone who has) ME/CFS knows and as the DWP knows (but conveniently choose to ignore) it is a fluctuating, unpredictable illness that cannot be assessed by a 'snapshot' examination and that a long-term picture needs to be born in mind. It has already been decided in court that the DWP mustn't base their decision on a 'snapshot' view and have to take into account the patient at their worst, yet this is clearly what they are doing.

So now of course I am worried sick about how I'm going to cope financially while all this hassle is sorted out. Add to this the fact, as I said, that I have been caring for my sick mother who died recently and have had all the stress and illness to deal with that this caused. And if that's not enough, the housing association want to take my home away from me, claiming that they have no record of me ever having lived here. I know that they are lying about this and even if not, it's not a problem to prove my case, and I don't foresee this being a problem in the long term. But it's all one stress after another, all of which i could do without, especially at this time. I haven't even been able to grieve properly as I've been forced to deal with all this garbage instead.

So I'm considering my plan of action and I would appreciate some input. Firstly I have made an appointment with my GP but unfortunately can't get to see her until 31st July and my benefits are going to be stopped on 2nd August. I was thinking about asking (in writing) the DWP to reconsider their decision but i'm wondering if it's even worth doing that and rather just asking to go to appeal straight away? I also intend to ask for a copy of my Atos report and was thinking about asking the DWP to tell me who from the DWP it is exactly who made the decision and what they medical qualifications are. Is it worth playing up the fact that I've lost my mother, the housing issue and that all this is preventing my grieving? My mother had a Consultant Nurse who used to come to see us at home and she saw first-hand what i was having to cope with, also knowing about my ME/CFS. She has visited me since and said that she will help me in any way that she can and write any letters that need to be written, particularly regarding the house issue. Would it be worth asking for her help with the DWP? Would her involvement carry any weight?

Is there anything else that anyone can advise? I'm just sick and tired of all the hassle that I've had to deal with over the last few months and am reaching the end of my tether emotionally, mentally and physically. Part of me just thinks "Sack it, I've been out of work for long enough and am sick of the hassle, why not just try to get back to work?" but then if I do this I know that at some point I'll be too ill and then I'll be back to square one. Add to that the fact that the Consultant Nurse has stated explicitly that after coming out of a caring role and it being done through the loss of a loved one and also taking into consideration my health, I shouldn't have to make any decisions about anything and certainly shouldn't be even thinking about going into work. She has said that my being forced to deal with things other than grieving for my mother and then making any decision such as going into work could tip me over and send me spiralling into depression. I'm sorry for such a long post, I'm just feeling really lost right now :-(


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PostPosted: Sun 15 Jul 2012, 16:41 
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Joined: Sat 03 Sep 2011, 16:22
Posts: 690
phoobz wrote:
Hi there,

My name's Glenn and I recently signed up to the forum just after my ATOS exam. Such a shame I didn't know about the forum before I sent off the form!

I'm almost 38 and suffer from ME/CFS. I haven't worked since 1998 due to this and was switched from JSA (or whatever the equivalent was at the time) to IS under direction from the DWP because they told me that to claim JSA I needed to basically be able to accept and perform any job that I was offered, which I clearly couldn't do so I was therefore claiming the wrong benefit and needed to sign off and start claiming IS instead. Ironic that it was the DWP who instructed me to do this in the first place, no? I found myself out of work at the time after periods in and out of work due to suffering from anxiety, stress and depression which all came to a head after hellish work conditions. After receiving an official diagnosis from an ME/CFS specialist he explained that I'd likely had the illness from childhood, that the stress at work had hit me hard and so brought out the symptoms to a much greater degree, which could perhaps have all been avoided if I'd had an earlier diagnosis. However, since my daignosis was so late on and that my symptoms were so long-standing and showing no signs of improving, my prognosis wasn't good and he couldn't see me ever recovering completely. Of course all this has been explained to the DWP/Atos many, many times over the years since.

Of all the forms I've had to fill in over the years I think there have only been two occasions when I haven't had to attend Atos examinations. ATOS have only been involved since 2008 when the PCAs you had before became WCAs. Before that, you would have seen the DWP doctors. One of these led to me being seen by a very unpleasant doctor who lied left right and centre on her report and thus my benefits were cut. I asked for a redecision but the decision remained the same, so I appealed, went to tribunal and won. I took along a Welfare Rights Officer who was very good in doing research and information but on the day was worse than useless, as it happens. But I won and that was the main thing.

So now yet again I've had to visit Atos and today I received a letter from the DWP saying that I have scored 0 points. Sadly this is a common event - but often this is overturned at appeal. Now, whether this is entirely even in agreement with what the Atos doctor said I'm not convinced, as there are certain questions he asked me and things that he clarified that seem to be in stark contrast to what's stated in the reasons and summary given by the DWP decision-maker. For example, I've recently lost my mother and had a lot of stress caring for her for many months. I explained this to the doctor and he said that surely this has caused me a lot of anxiety and difficulties with coping and that surely my illness is worse as a result. I confirmed this and explained in what ways and noticed that he quietly reiterated these things as he was typing. It's just possible that the doctor decided these factors were 'merely temporary' and said so on the report. But you will not know for sure until you see the report. So it appears that the decision-maker has just chosen to ignore what the doctor said, unless the doctor added on to the end that he didn't feel that any of what I told him was significant.

As anyone with (or anyone who knows someone who has) ME/CFS knows and as the DWP knows (but conveniently choose to ignore) it is a fluctuating, unpredictable illness that cannot be assessed by a 'snapshot' examination and that a long-term picture needs to be born in mind. It has already been decided in court that the DWP mustn't base their decision on a 'snapshot' view and have to take into account the patient at their worst, yet this is clearly what they are doing.

So now of course I am worried sick about how I'm going to cope financially while all this hassle is sorted out. Add to this the fact, as I said, that I have been caring for my sick mother who died recently and have had all the stress and illness to deal with that this caused. And if that's not enough, the housing association want to take my home away from me, claiming that they have no record of me ever having lived here. I know that they are lying about this and even if not, it's not a problem to prove my case, and I don't foresee this being a problem in the long term. But it's all one stress after another, all of which i could do without, especially at this time. I haven't even been able to grieve properly as I've been forced to deal with all this garbage instead.

So I'm considering my plan of action and I would appreciate some input. Firstly I have made an appointment with my GP but unfortunately can't get to see her until 31st July and my benefits are going to be stopped on 2nd August. I was thinking about asking (in writing) the DWP to reconsider their decision but i'm wondering if it's even worth doing that and rather just asking to go to appeal straight away? You only have a 30 days to notify the DWP of your intention to appeal, so don't delay. It's 99% certain that the DWP will 'reconsider' anyway. I also intend to ask for a copy of my Atos report and was thinking about asking the DWP to tell me who from the DWP it is exactly who made the decision and what they medical qualifications are. Is it worth playing up the fact that I've lost my mother, the housing issue and that all this is preventing my grieving? Yes, ask for the report. They probably won't tell you who the DM is, though he/she may have signed the letter you got in which case you already have the details. As for the other factors, my instinct would be not to play them up (though do mention them) as you want to convey the permanent nature of your illness, uncomplicated by external factors. My mother had a Consultant Nurse who used to come to see us at home and she saw first-hand what i was having to cope with, also knowing about my ME/CFS. She has visited me since and said that she will help me in any way that she can and write any letters that need to be written, particularly regarding the house issue. Would it be worth asking for her help with the DWP? Would her involvement carry any weight? Take advantage of whatever specialist help you can get. Her evidence - in writing - will certainly help at appeal, even if not before. Make sure she details what she actually experienced of your condition.

Is there anything else that anyone can advise? I'm just sick and tired of all the hassle that I've had to deal with over the last few months and am reaching the end of my tether emotionally, mentally and physically. Part of me just thinks "Sack it, I've been out of work for long enough and am sick of the hassle, why not just try to get back to work?" but then if I do this I know that at some point I'll be too ill and then I'll be back to square one. Add to that the fact that the Consultant Nurse has stated explicitly that after coming out of a caring role and it being done through the loss of a loved one and also taking into consideration my health, I shouldn't have to make any decisions about anything and certainly shouldn't be even thinking about going into work. She has said that my being forced to deal with things other than grieving for my mother and then making any decision such as going into work could tip me over and send me spiralling into depression. I'm sorry for such a long post, I'm just feeling really lost right now :-( Get all the medical evidence you can muster, keep it together, photocopy copies for sending away e.g. to appeal. And good luck - remember there are many people with your condition, who score 0 and then win their appeals.

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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jul 2012, 01:40 
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Joined: Tue 03 Jul 2012, 02:55
Posts: 2
HI TiddK, thanks for much for your response and advice, I'll certainly take it on board and put it into action. I just want to clarify what I mean about "playing up" my recent stresses. After reading back I realised that it could have come across as if I was meaning to use them as an exploit to get my own way, which is certainly not what I meant! Rather I meant using them as examples to highlight how stresses and situations that I am forced to deal with such as these affect me and how they can and have caused my condition to worsen. Thanks again and I welcome any further advice that anyone can provide. I'll make sure to post updates :-)


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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jul 2012, 21:47 
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Joined: Thu 19 Apr 2012, 16:50
Posts: 14
Hi I thought I would ask for decision maker to look again rather then go straight tribunak had the answer no change what they said did not make sense on reflection I would go straight to tribunal I have been before and won the people there are much more resonable and willing to listen theres a delay for tribunal anyway dont forget you only have a month to register so do it now and then start getting your stuff together ,dont worry knew what you meant about playing on stuff sorry to hear you lost your mum take care and good luck


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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jul 2012, 13:01 
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Joined: Thu 01 Mar 2012, 02:08
Posts: 35
Hi Glenn

I'm afraid I cant offer you any useful advice but you have my utmost sympathies and I just wanted to say dont let the b**tards grind you down. I'm just waiting for my decision on my ESA claim and I doubt it will be in my favour. Reading about whats happening to you, and so many other people makes me think its nigh on impossible to get an ESA claim granted. I mean how could you have scored 0! FFS! It makes me sick (er) than I already am!) to think that this horrible coalition government is just riding roughshod over so many peoples welfares at a single stroke. Its easy for the likes of Cameron and co to take money away from the sick and needy and people like him and his Etonite chums have never had to live in poverty of any kind so its impossible for them to understand how wrong what they are doing is. I just pray that the next election they are out. I wept the day they were voted in due to the apathy of the public who couldnt be bothered voting, or they voted conservative because they didnt 'like' Gordon Brown.. If only people could have thought about what the consequences of voting tory would be - and here we are reaping the whirlwind that these seeds have sown. Anyway I've drifted onto politics, sorry! Good luck with your claims progress Glenn and I really hope something turns out good for you.

Johnny


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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jul 2012, 16:30 
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Joined: Fri 14 Oct 2011, 18:41
Posts: 81
Hi all - just wanted to say that I , like many others, won my appeal recently and went from 0 to 15 points.
I believe 100% that Atos don't care a jot about anyone - it's all about targets. They seem quite happy to let the Tribunals overturn their decisions as it's not costing them anything. I bet if they lost money for every overturned decision, things would be very different, but at the moment for them its all about failing as many people as possible to make themselves and the government look good. So don't take the 0 points personally at all - I know how much it hurts when you see it in black and white, but just fight back with all your evidence and you'll get there.


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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jul 2012, 14:31 
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Joined: Wed 05 Oct 2011, 00:35
Posts: 25
Hi

sorry to hear how u was treated phoobz I too suffer cfs/me with other conditions so was awarded if you can call it that WRAG to which im awaiting the appeal.
Like the advise already given here do not delay in getting your appeal letter off to the DWP you dont even have to at this stage give a full explination as your have time after to follow up with your main reasons when you get the copy of your medical results and be prepared to read what could be someone else medical due to how the HCP changes what you say around.
Now i think most people here know the company in question doing the medicals is simply doing the government dirty work and turning everybody over as fit for work regardless, this same company in america was used by insurance claim companies to overturn injury law suits so they didnt have to pay out so are well versed in finding a cure for all of britains long term sick.
Once you have got your appeal papers in this will go for redecision by the DWP by another member of staff who will either back the first decision or change it. If they stick with the original decision then your papers will be passed to the court of appeal, so far mines take a year and still waiting but the good thing is ur able to get as much support you like in that time for your claim.
I would also ask your welfare worker to look at the exceptional circumstances rule (Reg 29b)

"Suffering from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and
consequently there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of
any person if they were found not to have a limited capability for work"

Also another rule Reg35(2)(b)

Suffering from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and
consequently there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of
any person if they were found not to have a limited capability for work related
activity.

Something to get you started and remember mate your not alone here there are many in the same boat as you all willing to help and share knowledge and together we will beat these B*********s

best of luck


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