Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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ESA appeal has gone to tribunal next month, not sure what to do.

Hi all, so things over the past year have been kind of tough, I was initially denied ESA under the grounds of scoring not enough points last September, requested a reconsideration however due to being so emotionally exhausted I couldn't face going through a tribunal, however after reapplying under new medical conditions, I had my medical assessment this April, of which I was refused, however due to having more support around me I am appealing and have my date in November.

I'm struggling to write this without losing my mind from sheer frustration, I'll give you a quick run through of my medical conditions and issues in a chronological order.

  • 1994: Diagnosed with congenital nystagmus with no side affects aside from a lazy eye and struggling with distant reading.
  • May 2006: No issues with the nystagmus, lazy eye has corrected itself and distant reading is getting better, NO further issues whatsoever.
  • June 2006: Suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) by means of a bicycle crash, suffered lacerations to my face, road rash on arms and knuckles. Due to being distressed and confused I ran out of hospital and refused to come back in, failed to be taken for any scans/x-rays/MRI's.
  • July-September 2006: Developed motor-tics in the form of head jerking (horizontal left-to-right violent shakes) as well as minor back, shoulder and neck pain.
  • July 2009: Friend phones me up, having taken substantial overdose, screaming and crying, informed by the police officer, had I not acted in the manner I did, she would no doubt be dead. Have suffered flashbacks since, the screams and cries real as the day it happened.
  • July-Dec 2009: Rumours sent round about me in my local area, drove me to the brink of suicide, friendships and relationships all broke down, struggle with trust to this day and constantly feel as if anyone that tries to enter into my life has an agenda.
  • December 2010: Injured my back at my first real job, momentary lapse of judgement whilst lifting a box from a 900mm high conveyor to a pallet. Pulled my back out and quit work that night, have struggled even more with back, neck and shoulder pain since. 
  • October 2012: Ran local half marathon, had major calf pain and had to drop out 3/4 way through. 
  • December 2012: Was unable to walk far, struggled greatly covering a distance greater than 200m
  • 2013: Due to a struggling local job market, had to sign on, had a major mental breakdown in the Job Centre, leading me to shout at the advisor, who then referred me to Seetec, this further put stress on me and made my mental and emotional health worse. Had multiple breakdowns whilst there and was advised to apply for ESA as I wasn't well enough to be there. 
  • 2014: Mental health further deteriorated, questioning my purpose and wanting to vanish in the middle of the night, not worrying about whether I died or not.
  • 2016: My grandpa died of which I struggled to deal with, at the same time I was struggling greatly with my anxiety, depression and anger. I always had my guard up and would never let anyone know what was happening. 
  • 2017: My nannie died six months exactly after my grandpa which messed me up even more emotionally, it was more traumatic due to the short time frame I had to come to terms with it. The same year my I began to feel more exhausted and and lethargic, struggling to find the energy to do anything. 
  • 2018: Struggling even more with lethargy, walking is more difficult due to onset of severe knee pain, sent for x-ray and diagnosed with Osgood-Sclatter Disease and awaiting Neurology and Rheumatology appointments. Depression, anxiety and anger are getting increasingly worse, thinking about death and just taking usually avoided risks.
With the above stated, I have a couple questions about the tribunal and what to do if more evidence comes to light. 


1) What will actually happen at the tribunal, how many people can I have come in with me and what is the rough duration of the actual tribunal? 

2) What if neurological evidence comes to light of a condition or something wrong with my brain, what do I do then? Because I informed DWP of my bike crash, do I submit the evidence if I'm within the 7 day period? If I get any evidence after the 7 day period, can I present them the evidence there and then on the day of my hearing?

3) Is it too late to get a representative, the whole situation has messed my head up so much I'm struggling to think straight. My girlfriend's mum has her head together, would she be a wise choice to ask to help me? Can family give their thoughts to the panel on how my conditions truly affect my day to day life?

My apologises in advice for those who have read through all of the above, I greatly appreciate any help and support given. 


Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,
    1) I would advise just the 1 person for support on the day of the hearing. Not sure taking any more than that will help you because it's purely just mental support for you on the day. In fact it may only be one person allowed but i'm not 100% sure on that one.

    2) The evidence you should be looking to produce is how your conditions affect you and not a diagnosis. Remember ESA is about the work you can do and not the work you can't do. Ideally you should send the evidence ASAP but if you have the evidence late then sending it it to arrive with 10 days is better than taking it with you on the day of the hearing. If you take it on the day then it may or may not be used. Remember the Tribunal can only take into consideration what you were like when the original decision was made. Any worsening of condition since the decision can't be taken into consideration.

    3) It most likely is too late to get a representative, it's difficult enough to get one at the start of an appeal. Taking your girlfriends mum is fine but she won't be able to speak on your behalf. The Tribunal will want you to tell them in your own words exactly how your conditions affect you and not hear this from someone else. They may ask her at the end if there's anything she wants to add but this doesn't always happen.

    Have you taken a look at the descriptors for each of the groups, to see which group you think you should be in and your reasons why?  Going to your hearing and not having any idea of which group and what you're aiming for isn't advisable. Preparation is the key to any Tribunal hearing. Good luck.


    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • BenjaminS9BenjaminS9 Member Posts: 11 Listener
    poppy123456 Thank you for the swift reply, if it's only one person I would think taking my girlfriend would be more ideal, simply due to the fact she see's what I'm like more than anyone else. I have taken a look at the descriptors and the points scored places me in the support group, would you advise it being a good idea to copy the descriptors I scored on and having a brief explanation in place should they ask me anything relating to that? 

    Thanks again,
    Ben
  • Firefly123Firefly123 Member Posts: 525 Pioneering
    @poppy123456 if you have an appointee and you go to tribunal are they allowed to speak for you 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    poppy123456 Thank you for the swift reply, if it's only one person I would think taking my girlfriend would be more ideal, simply due to the fact she see's what I'm like more than anyone else. I have taken a look at the descriptors and the points scored places me in the support group, would you advise it being a good idea to copy the descriptors I scored on and having a brief explanation in place should they ask me anything relating to that? 

    Thanks again,
    Ben
    Being placed into the Support Group isn't about scoring points, it's about satisfying at least one of the Support Group descriptors. Yes you should state which one applies to you and your reasons why, backed up with evidence to support that.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    @poppy123456 if you have an appointee and you go to tribunal are they allowed to speak for you 
    Yes i know that, thanks. I didn't mention is here because Benjamin didn't state they had an appointee.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • Firefly123Firefly123 Member Posts: 525 Pioneering
    @poppy123456 it was  just a question as I know you give good advice.
    Sorry Benjamin I wish you all the best at your tribunal 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    @poppy123456 it was  just a question as I know you give good advice.
    Sorry Benjamin I wish you all the best at your tribunal 
    I misread that, i'm sorry. It was very early, that's my excuse ;)
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
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