Are You Needing Information On Appealing A Benefit Decision? Then Click Here
New Work Capability Assessment forms ESA50 some of you who are being reassessed for your ESA will notice that the forms will have changed and you will see certain questions have extra sections added and at the end there is a new section added about Cancer and regarding feeding.
The new form will have the following changes:
About you is now on page 2
Last appointment with health professionals has been changed to “most recent appointment”
New section on page 4 regarding “Cancer treatment” and if you answer yes to this question then this will take you to page 20 of the form.
Moving safely around now reads “50 meters, 100 meters, 200 meters or more”
Using 2 steps now has added “rail to hold on to”
Staying in one place sitting or standing now has “less than 30 minutes, 30 minutes to one hour, more than an hour”
Lifting now asks if you can lift one of your arms.
Controlling your bowels and bladder added “Yes – but only if I cannot reach toilet quickly”
Eating and drinking now has “Can you get food and drink to your mouth without help or prompting from another person? and Can you chew and swallow food and drink without help or prompting from another person?”
Page 20 Cancer treatment details.
Benefit Sanctions for ESA Clients
Some of you may have received a letter regarding the new sanctions from 3rd December 2012 on your Employment Support Allowance if your do not attend Back to work interviews and your money will be affected.
The letters sent out only apply to people in Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) and not those in the Support Group of ESA.
If you haven’t received a letter like this then your probably not effected by these changes.
We most stress to you that it’s important that you attend your interviews arranged by your advisor at the Job centre plus and to carry any work / training that they arrange for you.
If you do fail to what they ask of you that will effect your benefit.
Thank you to a member who has sent these to us and with their permission we have posted them on here, we have blacked out their name and address etc but thank you.
Payment of ESA while Reconsideration or Appealing.
Below is a news article take from Hansard with regards to ESA payments while a “Reconsideration” or “Appeal” is going through the process, it is important to bare in mind that you should ensure you or your repersentatives get the paperwork to the office that pays you within the stated 28 or 14 day period failure to do this may result in you not getting the assessment rate.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to ensure that claimants whose employment and support allowance has been disallowed receive an income while the reconsideration of their case is pending. 
Mr Hoban: Employment and support allowance will continue to be paid pending the outcome of appeals against decisions that a claimant does not have limited capability for work. This will include the reconsideration period once an appeal is lodged. Claimants who are disallowed employment and support allowance also have available to them other benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions within what timescale he expects (a) 90 per cent and (b) 99 per cent of mandatory reconsiderations before employment and support allowance appeal to be completed; what consideration he has given to including those expectations in statutory guidelines; and if he will define unreasonable delays as referred to in the Government response to the public consultation on mandatory consideration of revision before appeal. 
Mr Hoban: The Department is currently developing the process that decision makers will follow when carrying out mandatory reconsiderations. Until the final process design is completed and tested it will not be possible for the Department to state what the appropriate timescales for completing mandatory reconsiderations will be.
There are no plans for a statutory timescale for completion of the mandatory reconsideration process. The aim of the mandatory reconsideration is to ensure that the decision on a claimants benefit is correct, and this may involve asking claimants for additional information and evidence. A statutory time limit may put pressure on decision makers to complete the process quickly rather than ensure that all the relevant information has been taken into consideration, which may result in unnecessary appeals being made.
ESA50 Form Filling Sample.
Have you received your ESA50 Work Capability Questionnaire and need help filling it out, well we have done a Sample ESA50 for your guidance and to assisted you in completing yours.
The sample form link is at the bottom of this news post but firstly we need to make you aware that:
We at Disability Online hope that this information and ESA50 sample has helped you complete your ESA50 also we need to point out:
We are a Information site and are pleased to offer help and guidance and this sample is just that for guidance purposes to help you complete you ESA50,
Disability Online can NOT be held responsible for any loss of benefit because if you have not answered all the questions correctly or the information you provided is not enough.
Remember this form is about you and no one knows more about your illness / disabilities better than you.
It’s your chance to explain in full all about your illnesses and disabilities so please make sure you answer all the questions fully and honestly.
If you require help then use the contact page on our website www.disabilityonline.org.uk/contact or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Disability Online would like to wish you well and hope that you get the result you require from ATOS and DWP.
Disability Online does not advocate those who commit Benefit Fraud and will not assist any client who found to be fraudulently obtaining benefits by giving false information.
ESA Claims Made
Today I received my daily “They work for you” Parliament Q & A and in it was this section regarding the amount of Claims for Employment Support Allowance made in Northeast and I was surprised at the amount made.
Mr Stephen Hepburn who is Labour MP for Jarrow – his profile here , he asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claims have been made in:
- South Tyneside
Since the benefit was introduced and Mr Chris Grayling – Conservative MP for Epsom & Ewell and Minster for Employment – DWP – his profile here replied with the response below.
The information requested is as follows:
|Employment and support allowance (ESA) on-flows—Each quarter November 2008 to February 2011|
|Great Britain||North Eastregion||South Tyneside local authority||Jarrow parliamentary constituency|
|Notes: 1. Caseload figures are rounded to the nearest ten. 2. Figures will exclude some short-term flows not captured by the relevant scans. 3. Figures show the total number of spells on this benefit that commence within the quarter. A person may flow on and off the same benefit more than once during a quarter. Does not include flows where people move out of one area and into another while remaining on the benefit. 4. Employment and support allowance replaced incapacity benefit and income support paid on the grounds of incapacity for new claims from 27 October 2008. 5. Figures are published on the Department’s website at: http://188.8.131.52/flows/flows_on/esa/tabtool_esa.html 6. Northern Ireland data is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the data are published at: http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/stats_and_research.htm Source: DWPInformation, Governance and Security Directorate: 100% Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study.Source Hansard|
Work Capability Assessment start to show results According to Mr Grayling
Well Mr Grayling, the minster for DWP and Mr Iain Duncan Smith right hand man as issued an statement to say that the Work Capability Assessment is starting to show good results, after there was concerns that severely disabled people were not be assessed correctly and this was causing an increase in appeals.
So because of this on 29th June 201o the secretary for DWP Iain Duncan Smith appointed Prof Harrington to review the current system read this here
So this is another bonus point for the coalition government who have done what so many other previous governments have tried but dared not to tread in the path of it in the public views, but this brave government have taken the whole benefit system and shock it up, ripped it up and began to reform the whole Welfare System, from Child Benefit to Disability Benefit, so any one who is on benefit or receives any benefits through working or child benefit will not be safe from Mr Duncan Smiths Axe on benefits.
The statement on DWP website reads – DWP Newsroom
The Government’s commitment to provide greater protection for the severely disabled is taking effect, with the latest figures revealing an increase in the number of people assessed for the higher rate of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, the figures still show that the majority of people (38 per cent) are being found fit for work.
The official statistics published today also show that 17 per cent can do some work with the right help and support and a further 36 per cent of people close their claim before the assessment process is complete.
Ministers believe that the increase in the number of people going into the support group shows that the changes that the Government made to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) are starting to make a difference and more people are getting long term unconditional support.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:
“We are seeing an increase in the number of severely disabled people being given long-term unconditional support, which shows that our reforms to the work capability assessment are starting to work.
“However, it’s clear that the majority of new claimants to sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. For those that need additional help our new Work programme is up and running and will tailor support to people’s needs so that they can overcome whatever barriers they face.”
For all new ESA claims from 30th October 2008 to 28th February 2011, the result of the initial WCA is as follows:
- Support Group – 7%
- Work Related Activity Group – 17%
- Fit for Work – 38%
- Claim closed before assessment complete – 36%
- Assessment still in progress – 2%
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which determines whether someone is fit for work, has been substantially improved. We asked Professor Harrington’s to undertake a review of the WCA and the majority of his first year recommendations are now in place. Changes have been made including making improvements to the decision making process. A second Independent Review of the WCA will be published before the end of the year.
People who are found fit for work will now be supported through the new Work Programme, which rolled out across Britain last month. The Work Programme provides tailored support for people to get into sustained employment. People who are found too sick or disabled will continue to receive unconditional support and a higher rate of benefit.
The changes we have made to the Work Capability Assessment include simplifying the language of the criteria, making greater provision for people awaiting courses of chemotherapy and people with certain communication and mental health problems, as well as taking greater account of how an individual has adapted to their condition or disability.
Provider Work Programme Information Sessions
Work and Pensions
Providers given further access to ESA claimants in the WRAG group from today
TodayChris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative) as issued a statement with regards to people on ESA and WRAG.
From 24 October 2011 employment and support allowance claimants eligible to volunteer for the Work programme will be referred to a Work programme information session. These claimants include those in the work-related activity group, with a work capability assessment prognosis greater than six months. Other claimants eligible to volunteer for the Work programme who are not subject to work-related activity can opt to attend an information session, such as those in the Support group.
This change seeks to make claimants aware of the opportunities on offer from Work programme providers. It also gives providers greater ability to reach individual claimants who may not be aware of the support they can access, and helps providers to manage their resources more effectively.
We will introduce these information sessions on a phased basis, beginning on 24 October 2011 in the east midlands (contract package area 2), with national coverage by the end of November 2011.
We are not prescribing how the sessions should be carried out but providers will have to give the Government clear details about their marketing plans for information sessions (for example, timings, individual or group sessions, and group sizes.)
Additionally, these information sessions will encourage partnership working between Jobcentre Plus and providers at a local-level.
We want claimants to engage with their provider on a voluntary basis. In exceptional circumstances, where a claimant refuses to engage without good reason, the personal adviser can require them to attend an information session.
When a claimant decides to volunteer for the Work programme, they will be participating in it for up to two years, so providers have a real chance to address the serious disadvantages some of our claimants face in the labour market.
When claimants have attended their information session they will follow up with their Jobcentre Plus personal adviser to agree next steps.
Article taken from Benefit and Works Website Click here for website
The new ESA50 medical questionnaire for employment and support allowance misleads claimants into not giving the evidence needed to score all the points they are entitled to. In addition, Atos health professionals are being seriously misadvised about how to assess claimants at medicals. These are the conclusions that Benefits and Work has reached, having researched and published our highly detailed guides to the new work capability assessment.
Below, we give a few examples of the kinds of misleading questions and doubtful guidance we think you need to be aware of when making your claim.
We have been warning for some time now about the introduction of the imaginary wheelchair test’ whereby claimants who have difficulty walking can be assessed on their ability to use a wheelchair, even if they don’t have one.
Yet the new ESA50 questionnaire merely asks people about “the use of aids such as a manual wheelchair, crutches or a walking stick if you usually use one”.
So, were all our warnings mere scaremongering, given that the form only wants to know about what you ‘usually’ use and not what you could conceivably use?
Well, the answer has to be a resounding ‘No’. Because the Work Capability Assessment Handbook issued to Atos health professionals tells them clearly that:
“In this activity, the HCP should consider whether a person could potentially use a wheelchair regardless of whether or not they have ever used a wheelchair.”
In other words, claimants are asked to give evidence about one thing – aids they usually use – whilst doctors will be assessing them about something else entirely – aids they could theoretically use. If there are reasons why you would not be able to use a manual wheelchair, you need to consider very carefully if you should include them in the questionnaire, even though you aren’t asked about them.
The Benefits and Work guide to claiming ESA on physical health grounds has lots more information about the activity of ‘mobilising’, which has replaced the previous activity of walking.
Sitting, standing or both?
In relation to sitting and standing, the form only asks about your inability to ‘stay in one place, either standing or sitting, for at least an hour’, for which you score 6 points. Yet, if you can’t sit or stand for more than half an hour you score 9 points. So, it’s really important that you give detailed information about just how long you can stand for and sit for or you may miss out on vital points.
More worrying still, whilst both the law and the questionnaire refer to standing or sitting, Atos health professionals are told to use a much harder test:
‘. . . the person does not have to stand or sit for the whole 30 or 60 minutes. They can alternate between the two. For example, a person may only be able to sit for 30 minutes, but then stand for 10 or 15 and then sit for another 30 minutes. In this case they would not attract a scoring descriptor as they are able to remain at the workplace for in excess of 60 minutes.’
We believe that this is a serious misinterpretation of the law. However, even if it were correct, it would then be absolutely necessary for the Atos health professional to assess your ability to rise from sitting to standing without pain or severe discomfort and with reasonable repeatability. Yet nowhere are they instructed to do so.
If you do have problems with rising from sitting – or with moving from a standing to seated position – then you may wish to consider giving evidence about them on the form, even though you are not asked to do so. And, whether or not you have problems with rising, if you are not awarded ESA you may wish to raise the issue of the wrong standing and sitting test being applied by the Atos health professional when you lodge your appeal.
Again, the Benefits and Work guide to claiming ESA on physical health grounds has lots more information about this activity.
Staying close to a toilet
There is also a very important omission on the ESA50 questionnaire in relation to continence.
Nowhere are claimants asked about whether they have to stay close to the toilet in order to avoid episodes of incontinence. Instead they are just asked about actual episodes of incontinence serious enough to require a change of clothing. Yet you score six vital points if you are at risk of losing control if you don’t stay close to a toilet. In other words, you may be able to score points for ‘Controlling your bowels and bladder’ even if you have never had an actual episode of incontinence.
If this is the case for you, then it’s crucial that you give evidence about it on your questionnaire, even though you aren’t asked to.
Again, we give more details in our guide.
Beyond the activity
The problems with the new questionnaire don’t end with physical health issues, either, but extend well into the mental health and learning difficulties assessment.
In relation to learning tasks, for example, you score 6 points if you can’t learn anything ‘beyond’ a moderately complex task such as operating a washing machine. There is no guidance about what a task ‘beyond’ operating a washing machine might be. But it could, perhaps, be something like driving a car. Yet the form only asks about whether you “learn how to do a more complicated task such as using a washing machine”, not whether you can learn anything beyond that. Equally, the guidance given to health professionals does not explain this issue.
It may seem like a small point, but it means that anyone who can learn to operate a washing machine will automatically score zero points when, in reality, they may be entitled to 6 points. So, if there is a reason why you would struggle to learn anything more complicated than operating a washing machine, then give evidence on your form and be prepared to argue it at a tribunal if you aren’t awarded points.
In relation to ‘awareness of hazard or danger’ the questionnaire only asks you to say if you can ‘keep yourself safe’. Not a word about damaging things or, indeed, other people.
Yet you score as many points if you are at risk of damaging property or possessions – or of harming other people – as a result of your mental health or learning difficulties as you do if you are at risk of harming yourself or others due to a lack of awareness.
So you absolutely should give examples of times when you have damaged property as a result of your lack of awareness, if this is the case, even though you are not asked to do so.
Fight for what’s right
These are just some examples of what we consider to be misleading questions or incorrect guidance, our guides detail many more.
So please don’t complete the ESA50 questionnaire just by answering the questions it asks. Do that and you run a real risk of being refused ESA, not because you don’t qualify but because you’ve been conned into only giving half the evidence.
Why not subscribe to Benefits and Work. and In less than a minute you can download our guides and begin the long job of building a case
Audio Recording of Medical Assessments Pilot
How will customers be notified of the Pilot?
ESA customers referred to Atos Healthcare for a WCA and who would normally attend the Newcastle Medical Examination Centre will be telephoned in advance of their appointment and notified of the Pilot.
If they agree to participate in the pilot and have their assessment recorded an assessment will be booked with a participating Health Care Professional (HCP). If the customer chooses not to participate in the pilot, their assessment will be booked and completed as normal.
What happens when participating customers arrive for their assessment?
Participating customer will arrive at Newcastle Medical Examination Centre and be booked in for their assessment as normal. The customer will be provided with a factsheet summarising the pilot and detailing how they can request a copy of the recording.
At the start of their assessment the HCP will explain how the assessment will be recorded and ask the customer to sign a consent form agreeing to the recording of the assessment. Their assessment will then continue as normal being discretely recorded via a handheld digital recorder.
If the customer is accompanied at the assessment by a third party (carer, interpreter, family member) they will also need to provide their consent to participate in the recording.
A copy of the consent form will be provided to the customer and a copy will also be retained by Atos Healthcare along with the recordings of the assessment.
What happens if a customer agrees to participate but then changes their mind?
The customer should attend their appointment as normal and inform the receptionist on arrival that they no longer wish to participate in the pilot. At the start of their assessment the HCP will ask the customer to sign a consent form confirming their agreement to the recording of their assessment. If the customer, no long wishes to participate they will not provide their consent and the assessment will not be recorded but will continue as normal.
How will assessments be recorded and stored?
Assessments will be recorded by a handheld digital recorder. The recording will then be transferred to a secure, encrypted computer and wiped from the digital recorder The recording will be stored securely on the computer at Newcastle Medical Examination Centre and retained for 14 months after the date of the recording. This is line with departmental standards for supporting evidence. During this 14 month period, a customer can request a copy of the recording for their own personal use.
If requested by the customer, a copy of the recording will be copied to a CD and sent by recorded delivery to the customer’s home address.
How can customers request a copy of the recording?
Participating customers can request a copy of the recording either on the day or at any time within 14 months of the date of the assessment. Requests must be made in writing, signed by the customer and provide details of their name, national insurance number, home address and
date of the recording.
Requests should be sent to:
Resource and Customer Care Manager
Regent Farm Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
Atos Healthcare will respond to requests within 14 days, sending the customer a CD of
the recording by Royal Mail recorded delivery to their home address.
How will the recordings be used and who will have access to the recordings?
Access to the recordings will be restricted to only Atos Healthcare staff with responsibility for downloading or copying (if required) the recordings on to a CD.
The recordings will be used for the purpose of evaluating the pilot and as part of the standard quality check of around 10% of cases.
CD copies of the recordings will only be provided to the Atos Healthcare Complaints Team if a customer raises a complaint and presents the recording as evidence or disputes the accuracy of their medical report.
Atos Healthcare will not provide copies of the recordings to any third parties, including those who accompanied the customer at the assessment.
Atos Healthcare will not provide Jobcentre Plus with a copy of the recording unless requested by the customer (see below).
How can customer use a copy of the recording?
There is no real need for customers to request and use the recording of their assessment. The recordings do not form part of the Jobcentre Plus decision making process. This is unchanged by the pilot and the recording of assessments. However, customers can request a copy of the recording if they so wish in writing to Atos Healthcare at the address above.
Both the customer factsheet and the consent form the customer signs confirms that the recording is only provided for the customer’s own personal use and must not be put into the public domain.
Customers may choose to provide Jobcentre Plus with a copy of the recording. This could be:
▪ before the initial WCA decision is made;
▪ as part of a request for a reconsideration; or
▪ as part of a request for an appeal.
Customers will be advised that there is no requirement for the recordings to be provided to Jobcentre Plus and Jobcentre Plus will not accept a customer’s personal copy of the CD.
If the customer is insistent on the recording being taken into account as evidence, these will be handled on an individual basis and the customer will need to provide consent for Atos Healthcare to share this information with Jobcentre Plus.
How can a customer complain about their medical assessment?
There is no change to the customer complaint procedure as a result of the pilot. Any complaints regarding an assessment should be addressed to:
Customer Relations Manager
Block 1, Wing G