Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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SO SO SO FED UP

I am really depressed at present because of my poor life & the way the DWP have been hassling me about PIP & ESA.  I have been claiming DLA for years & was given a lifetime award.  A few years ago I lost my job.  I claimed ESA & was put in the support group.  Life was OK I was budgeting & my mental health was improving to the point where I was seriously thinking of joining things.  However last year the DWP decided to hassle me.  Firstly they asked me to apply for PIP which I did.  I was refused it solely based on a 20 minute assessment & a report full of inaccuracies.  I have got as far as the Tribunal & am waiting for a personal hearing.  The DWP then decided to harass me further by reviewing my ESA.  Because of losing my DLA my income dropped significantly & I am struggling to make ends meet.  One invisible problem I have is with my immune system.  It does not work properly & I get bugs very easily & have a virus that can be triggered by stress.  I had to miss some reviews because of being ill & also had to change a couple of appointments because the times were unsuitable.  I was unable to go to the last Assessment because I had gastroenteritis & was advised by NHS 111 & my GPs Practice to isolate myself for at least 48 hours.  I rang the Assessment Centre to advise them but as I had already changed the appointment once it could not be cancelled.  A few days later I then received the missed Assessment for which I filled in & sent back.  My ESA was stopped because of not attending Assessments. I put in a Mandatory Review which was rejected. I spoke to the Decision Maker who did not really want to speak to me & said there was a pattern of evasion because of non attendance.  I tried to explain but she would not listen.  She was a real jobsworth who obviously does not like oiks like me questioning her decisions.  She keep on about I should have received a form about home visits & I kept telling her I had not.  She kept saying they were issued automatically & I must have had them.  I eventually had a severe anxiety attack & could not go on & we terminated the call. I have now had to submit an appeal to the Tribunal.  This time i have asked for a paper hearing.  I am now having to claim Job Seekers Allowance.  I went for the initial discussion on Tuesday.  I was a struggle to get there as I had not slept properly on Monday, I was feeling exhausted & had brain fog which make the interview very difficult. I had a panic attack whilst I was waiting.  The Advisor was very understanding & gave me printouts of the interview.  I have to go next Thursday to officially sign on & start receiving benefit.  Until then I have hardly any money.  I received a small loan from the DWP but that has virtually gone.  The JSA is lower than ESA & they take payments out of your benefit until the loan is paid off.  I have already had to contact my Water provider & local Council to tell them I cannot pay their bills this month.  They have been understanding & deferred payment until my benefit is sorted out.
I am really fed up.  My physical & mental health has deteriorated.  I have gone backwards with my mental health & thoughts of having to look for jobs is terrifying me.  I was due to meet someone from the CAB to help me on Wednesday but I had to call it off as I did not sleep well & was exhausted. We rearranged it for next Wednesday.  I have now gone down with a cold & really upset I was was going to use the bank holiday as a new start.  Instead I feel really depressed about how I am going to pay my bills with hardly any income.

Replies

  • debsidoodebsidoo Member Posts: 327 Pioneering
    Hi Annabelle26
    I can’t imagine how rotten you feel right now but stay strong as the tribunal will eventually be over.Is there no way for you to get a statement off your GP to support your lack of immune system to take to your jobcentre adviser at least they will know you’re not just being evasive.
    At least on here there are people you can talk to,so try not to let it get to you too much,you don’t want to make yourself feel any worse.
    As for your tribunal is there nobody who could attend with you for support as a face to face is always better than a paper hearing it gives you more chance to explain things fully.
    Try and keep your chin up.
        Debsidoo.x

  • sandyp196sandyp196 Member Posts: 129 Pioneering
    I'm so sorry for your situation. I do know how it feels and everything you describe. Is it possible you could get someone to help you sort out the benefits?
    Welfare right
    Tenancy support 
    Doctor.
    I had terrible problems getting benefits when I lost my job through illness. I got into rent arrears and was living in absolute poverty.  The rent office referred me to tenancy support. Every local authority has a tenancy support unit. It's mainly for council tenants but not exclusively. You can refer yourself by just ringing them. They will help private tenants too and housing associations. You can get their number from the local council and tell them your not well, struggling to pay bills and rent. Their main aim is support to protect people's tenancies and prevent homelessness. 
    If they can't help you (unlikely) they will at least signpost you to organisations who will. They do have a waiting list for support but do offer emergency support too. 
    You can also make a self referral to the community mental health team. It's better if your doctor refers you but not everyone has a good doctor and the option is there to refer yourself. They jsut don't tell you that!
    Lots of local support charities can advise or offer support for help with benefits too. 
    You have nothing to lose by making some phone calls and referring yourself for help and support. 
    The tenancy support did so much for me and what they couldn't do,  they referred me onto other organisations for help. They also got me medical help and a proper diagnosis.  The first time I got pip was thanks to tenancy support. 
    You could also ask thr job centre for the number for tenancy support or if there is anywhere they could refer you too for help. 
    Many job centre staff know people are being forced onto job seekers when their not well enough to work. I'm not saying all JC staff are helpful but some definitely are. They will at least have access to the information about resources available in your locality. 
    I was accused by the dwp of being evasive too and like you I was punished for it.  But my doctor defended me as did tenancy support and said it was the illness and it's symptoms. Yes the very illness I needed help with the dwp were using against me and discriminating against. 
    I won my appeal on that basis!
    Don't give up. Try and get someone to help you as this process is very draining. X 
  • Annabelle26Annabelle26 Member Posts: 103 Pioneering
    I have just started various processes to see if I can get housing benefit etc but it just takes time.  At present  I cannot go out as I have a cold. It is because I was really stressed about having to go to the jobcentre. It is just annoying me that I have to go through all this as some Jobsworth decided by missing some appointments through illness which I told them about decided I was malingering or evasion as she put it so she decided I could not carry on claiming & would not listen to me.  It must be just a coincidence that after claiming DLA for years the DWP decided I had to apply for PIP & just after that they decided to look at my ESA. 
  • sandyp196sandyp196 Member Posts: 129 Pioneering
    I'm wondering if pip assesments do trigger esa reviews. I have just been reassessed for pip. From the letters I recieved from esa it seems they knew the decision before I did. 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Hi Annabelle26,

    If you appeal to the tribunals service you really need to attend the hearing, I cannot possibly stress how important attending is. Most of the time a successful appeal is so because the panel have had chance to see you, to speak to you, and to fill in any gaps they want filling. A paper hearing means that the panel only have all the papers to go on and generally doesn't go in the claimant's favour. Please be strong and attend your hearing because it could mean so much pressure being taken off you later. 
    You should contact your Local Authority to see if it has a Welfare Rights team who can assist and represent and support you at the hearing. The decisions the DWP have made are poor and you can't let them get away with it. Please send in any medical evidence you have that they haven't already seen. All the best,

    Lee
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
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