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Need advice on LCWRA assessment

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CW_Sils
CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
Hello,

I’m a support worker for a severely autistic client who is non verbal and in the last year experienced serious trauma after being groomed by a predator who he was led to believe was his “friend”. He’s a very vulnerable individual who functions with the mental age of a child although he’s very intelligent in other areas (he could build a computer in under an hour, surprises me sometimes). But he needs A LOT of help looking after himself including cleaning his room, leaving the house, paying bills, attending appointments, and he’s non verbal but communicates with his phone which makes accessing support difficult at times especially with him needing a lot of intense therapy after what happened and not being able to access it. I’m at a loss of what to do right now because I have spoken on his behalf to numerous debt advisors who describe him as “completely unemployable” and express concern that he’s on universal credit instead of ESA. He was assessed by UC in 2019 and was put into the LCW element because they felt his condition might improve within a year of two back then…in fact it’s got even worse, especially after what happened. I requested a reassessment for LCWRA on his behalf in September of last year, I filled in the lengthy questionnaire and attached letters from his doctor, a specialist psychiatrist as well as documentation from the supported housing agency and we heard nothing for months. I chased it today (for the third time after having previously been told they “had no update”). They said the same thing today only they put me through to the assessment centre this time who genuinely sounded surprised that we hadn’t received an update. They said “have you not heard anything from universal credit yet?” In a very surprised tone. Then went on to say “no assessment is required as there was sufficient evidence with the forms” and said “contact universal credit again and ask to speak to the benefits delivery team”. They transferred me back to universal credit who said “you’re not allowed to speak to that department you have to leave a note on the journal”. So we logged into his universal credit with him present and put a note on the journal explaining what we’d just been told by the assessment centre and a few hours later we received a reply from a man called Dave from the St Austell service centre who said “(name redacted) has been awarded limited capability for work from 15/01/2019. There are no extra monies paid for this element, that would be if you were awarded limited capability for work and work related activity” (which is what everyone has been saying we should apply for on his behalf, having been advised it’s basically the ESA element of universal credit).

How someone in his position can be expected to participate in work related activity is beyond belief to everyone who works with him on a daily basis, he is very clearly incapable of work. What’s more worrying is he is accumulating a lot of debt, mostly with his energy company, who are charging him over £250 a month for a 1 bedroom all electric flat and he doesn’t even have the central heating on. We got him a single electric heater which he uses. He is in serious need of the extra money as bills are set to go up again in April. I genuinely don’t understand this system and I’m at a loss of how to support him now. I’ve done everything I can to get people to assess him and award him the benefits he should be getting but they seem to be using a loophole whereby they say he “might” be able to work in the future…

Comments

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
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    I'm sorry but i found that extremely difficult to follow.

    If changes were reported in September 2022 then i would say the decision made on 15/1/2019 was for the previous work capability assessment. You need to wait for the decision on the change of circumstances, which can take up to 12 weeks once the assessment report was returned to DWP.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • CW_Sils
    CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    edited February 2023
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    I'm sorry but i found that extremely difficult to follow.

    If changes were reported in September 2022 then i would say the decision made on 15/1/2019 was for the previous work capability assessment. You need to wait for the decision on the change of circumstances, which can take up to 12 weeks once the assessment report was returned to DWP.
    I’m also finding it very difficult to follow as the assessment centre are saying “contact universal credit” and universal credit are saying “contact the assessment centre”. Been round in circles today. The 2019 assessment is old now and when I quizzed another universal credit representative over what Dave posted on the journal they responded to backup what Dave had said. Nobody seems to know anything because I find it hard to believe how they’d assess him as fit for work related activity when he’s struggling to even function on a daily basis. They’re closed now so will try again tomorrow but Dave’s “update” was posted at 1:07pm today. Within an hour of the phone call asking for an update where we were told to put a note on the journal (after being told we “aren’t allowed” to talk to the team the assessment centre told us to contact).

    the assessment centre were saying a decision was already made some weeks ago and seemed genuinely surprised that universal credit were claiming at the time of the phone call that they’d received no update. But when we contacted the relevant team via the journal, as instructed, since we apparently can’t talk to that team on the phone, they replied as above. It’s all very frustrating.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
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    The assessment providers wouldn’t have any information on whether a decision was made because they don’t make decisions. Only a decision maker from DWP can make decisions. They could only tell you if the report was written and returned. 

    Does he claim either PIP or DLA? 
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • CW_Sils
    CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    edited February 2023
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    The assessment providers wouldn’t have any information on whether a decision was made because they don’t make decisions. Only a decision maker from DWP can make decisions. They could only tell you if the report was written and returned. 

    Does he claim either PIP or DLA? 
    So they’re not the ones making the decisions? Why, then, do Universal credit keep telling us to ring them to ask for an update?

    Are the dwp even qualified to ignore what multiple medical professionals have said (all included in the submitted evidence where the assessment centre claimed today “no assessment is required as there was sufficient evidence enclosed with the form(s)”. Because the DWP (as in universal credit) are claiming what Dave said above. But they’re saying from 15/01/2019. Does that mean they’ve just read the evidence and decided not to change the 2019 award? If so that’s very concerning…

    he does claim PIP which is used to fund (partially) the cost of his support. The rest of it disappears on his many other bills since his universal credit allowance barely covers his electricity bill.

    two weeks ago I consulted a charity, on his behalf, who specialise in debt advice and benefits advice and she saw him and me face to face (though she mostly engaged with me as he was struggling to engage) and she looked at his universal credit journal and said she was “appalled” at what they were asking him to do. She said “he should be on ESA”. The DWP have said he’s not eligible to claim ESA and must claim universal credit.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
    edited February 2023
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    No, the assessment providers have never made any decisions, this is purely down to a decision maker from DWP.

    With regards to the decision made in 2019, then that’s an indication that no decision has been made yet on the change of circumstances. 

    When exactly was the assessment report returned to DWP? 

    UC has replaced all the old legacy benefits so it’s no longer possible to claim Income Related ESA. The only ESA possible to claim now is New style ESA and for this he will need to have worked at some point in tax years 2020/21 and 2021/22. Even if he could claim it then it would be deducted in full from any UC entitlement.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • CW_Sils
    CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
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    No, the assessment providers have never made any decisions, this is purely down to a decision maker from DWP.

    With regards to the decision made in 2019, then that’s an indication that no decision has been made yet on the change of circumstances. 

    When exactly was the assessment report returned to DWP? 
    I will contact the assessment centre again tomorrow and ask them to clarify exactly when they returned their report to the DWP in that case as all they told me was “some weeks ago” when the expressed surprise that the dwp were stating there was no update. The assessment centre made it sound like there was sufficient evidence to support the claim without the need for a face to face assessment (so it must be strong evidence right? I mean we are talking psychiatric reports, written by professionals as well as a detailed report from the supported housing agency outlining his day to day support needs).

    Are the DWP decision makers just employees of the DWP? Or are they medically trained like a doctor? Because what has the purpose of the last 6 months been if nobody seems to know anything? I’m just tired of being passed around like a tennis ball. It’s frustrating for us because we know what he needs, we work with him every day, yet nobody seems to listen to us. We have to bring in reports from outside agencies which is what we’ve been doing, and it still feels like people don’t know what they’re doing.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
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    Decision makers are not medically trained. As I advised a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 

    It’s not unusual to be waiting 6 months since reporting changes because there are backlogs in a lot of areas. 
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
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    If he’s having difficulties paying his energy bills then scope have a disability energy support available. See link for details how to contact them https://www.scope.org.uk/disability-energy-support/
    You can also speak to his energy supplier who may also have some extra funding to help those on low income. 
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • CW_Sils
    CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
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    Decision makers are not medically trained. As I advised a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 
    This does concern me. How are they qualified to make decisions on stuff they’re not trained to understand?

    poppy123456 said:
    If he’s having difficulties paying his energy bills then scope have a disability energy support available. See link for details how to contact them https://www.scope.org.uk/disability-energy-support/
    You can also speak to his energy supplier who may also have some extra funding to help those on low income. 
    thank you, I’ll give it a look.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    CW_Sils said:
    Decision makers are not medically trained. As I advised a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 
    This does concern me. How are they qualified to make decisions on stuff they’re not trained to understand?



    That's what the assessment providers are there for, they gather extra evidence (if needed) then write the assessment report, which is their opinion based on everything that was written in the form, any extra evidence sent as well as what was said during the assessment (if an assessment was needed)

    Please also remember that it's not about a diagnosis, so they (the DM's) don't need any medical knowledge. The same as the health assessment providers, they don't need any specific knowledge in any medical conditions.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • CW_Sils
    CW_Sils Community member Posts: 6 Listener
    Options
    CW_Sils said:
    Decision makers are not medically trained. As I advised a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 
    This does concern me. How are they qualified to make decisions on stuff they’re not trained to understand?



    That's what the assessment providers are there for, they gather extra evidence (if needed) then write the assessment report, which is their opinion based on everything that was written in the form, any extra evidence sent as well as what was said during the assessment (if an assessment was needed)

    Please also remember that it's not about a diagnosis, so they (the DM's) don't need any medical knowledge. The same as the health assessment providers, they don't need any specific knowledge in any medical conditions.
    Everyone who supports him or has any involvement with him all say the same thing…”he is completely unemployable”. He needs specialist mental health support to help him cope with recent trauma on top of his day to day support needs which have increased a lot since. I’ll chase up the assessment centre tomorrow to find out when they submitted their report back to the DWP I was just alarmed by what Dave said earlier as he made it sound like that was their decision. Whereas now it’s sounding, from what you’ve said, like it was more him parroting the “old” decision because he’s unaware of any new decision. Either way we need to get this sorted because it’s ridiculous. Honestly.

    how long after they receive the report back (bearing in mind we’ve already been waiting since September 2022) before a decision is made. If it hasn’t been made yet? (Which by the sounds of things it either hasn’t been or it has and they’ve decided not to change the 2019 award…in which case what on earth do we do?)
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
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    As I advised a couple of times..
    a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 

    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,110 Disability Gamechanger
    Options
    CW_Sils said:
    CW_Sils said:
    Decision makers are not medically trained. As I advised a decision can take up to about 12 weeks once the report was returned. 
    This does concern me. How are they qualified to make decisions on stuff they’re not trained to understand?



     If it hasn’t been made yet? (Which by the sounds of things it either hasn’t been or it has and they’ve decided not to change the 2019 award…in which case what on earth do we do?)
    If a decision had been made then it wouldn’t have the date of 2019 on it. 
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • Luna51
    Luna51 Community member Posts: 287 Pioneering
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    Hi @CW_Sils

    Great advice from Poppy.

    It is ridiculous to have to jump through hoops like this to get vulnerable people the help they need and deserve. 
    If you continue to run in circles without any answers, I would suggest you contact your local MP, it can often turn things around surprisingly quickly once they get involved.

    Best of luck! 
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