Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Esa not treating me right or fairly

hi

i suffer with severe mental health issues and am currently dealing with losing my grandma suddenly to terminal cancel.

what I don’t find right or fair at this time is how esa are treating me

as back to the beginning of December last year I got a letter to say my esa was going to be under review and I would need to send back the completed questionnaire and any medical evidence by the 2nd of January 

I rung them immediately on getting this letter (4th December) in floods of tears as just heard my grandma had passed away, and explained my situation about my grandma passing away and asked due to this could I have a slight extension on when I would get my questionnaire and medical evidence back due to the fact of the recent breveament and the impact it is having on mental health and needing time to be with family to grieve and get family affairs in order, also therapist would not be able to supple any up to date medical evidence till mid February as she was on compassionate leave till then

i was told that because I was in the support group and have severe mental health issues that they would not be rigid about when I would need to get my questionnaire back meaning, but yes I could have an extension to the 2nd March (I made sure they put notes on the system to show that decision was made and the day it was made and the reasons for it ie bereavement and no therapist till February 

This extension I backed up with esa 2 times after that first call, on the 20th December and 3rd January which both times I was assured that the extension was in place and to make sure I got in all my paperwork by the 2nd of march

so I was surprised to get a letter the 2nd week of January (which was dated 4th January) to say due to not getting my paperwork in by the 2nd January I was being fast tracked to the assessment stage and they had booked me in for an assessment for the following week (17th January)

i could not understand why I got this letter as I had been given an extension to get the paperwork back in which was confirmed twice afterwards, so I thoughts it was a simple case of a misunderstanding and once I rung up esa it would all be sorted, the assessment would be cancelled and I would be told to get my paperwork in by 2nd march

how wrong I was, esa refused to have anything to do with me when I rung them and said the matter was being handled by the assessment people, and when I rung the assessment people they said they do not know anything about an extension and (when I explained esa had granted me one till the 2nd March to get my paperwork in by) they said well they will not stand on that extension, the questionnaire and medical evidence was not important, all that matter was the assessment and if I did not attend it I could end up losing all my benefits.

i was not willing to back down as I knew I had this extension and based on that I had booked a trip home to Cornwall (back at beginning of December) to go home and be with my family for some much needed help and support from the 10th January to the 11th February, so was unable to attend any assessment till after I return

all the assessment people were willing to do was to change the assessment to the 5th February (which I can’t attend) and when I don’t attend that appointment they said they will send me a letter out to ask me why I did not attend,

i dont understand why they are treating me like this, why give me an extension and confirm it in two subsequent calls I had with them if they had no intention of standing on that decision?

Instead now they have left me in a right mess, put a massive stress on my already fragile mental health and I am left worried and scared that early February I will lose all my benefits and be left with no money to live off through no fault of my own

i don’t know what to do right now.

Replies

  • Dotty123Dotty123 Member Posts: 492 Pioneering
    I rang them said needed taxi to get there the man on fone said I need send drs letter in and he’ll get back to me then said if don’t get letter and fax it to him to ring and extend my assessment for month when I checked with them they called me liar he couldn’t of said that how can these peaple treat us so bad and like something they’ve walked on good luck 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    I'm sorry to hear of your news.

    Firstly, there's no extension of time given to return the ESA50 form. The rules are relaxed slightly for those with mental health, if DWP have it noted on the computer, which of course they do for you. It doesn't mean they'll hold off sending any appointments for a face to face assessment. It just means the rules are relaxed and you won't be found fit for work if you didn't return the form.

    ESA work capability assessments and forms being returned are nothing to do with DWP, it's the health assessment providers you should have rang at the beginning as well as DWP. However, even if you had rang them, it wouldn't have helped because there's simply no extension of time to return the form.

    As you have no been given a date for a face to face assessment, you really must attend that appointment. If you don't attend the appointment your file will be returned to DWP and you'll be found fit for work for failing to attend and your ESA will stop. Your next step after that is to request the MR with your reasons for not attending the assessment. If they accept your reasons you'll be placed back into the Support Group and your money will start back as normal. If they don't accept your reasons they it's Tribunal for the next step. The Tribunal will be for failing to attend and again you'll need to give your reasons for not attending the assessment. If the Tribunal accept your reasons then you'll be able to go back onto assessment rate of ESA until you have your face to face assessment. This whole process could go on for well over 1 year.

    Is there anyway you can return home earlier than you planned, so that you can attend the assessment?  I realise you're going home to be with your family after receiving the bad news but it's really important that you attend the assessment. It could possibly be a very long process ahead of you if you don't attend.
    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.
  • alleepballeepb Member Posts: 3 Listener
    edited January 2019
    Poppy I was NOT aware that esa do NOT give extensions, as if that was the case why did esa say I could have the extension when I rung on the 4th December, then confirm the extension in the 2 calls I made after that (on the 20th December and 3rd January),?

    Surely when I rung on the 4th December they should of said no extension can be given then I would of known where I stood.

    Also keep in mind when i got the letter about the review I had just found out my grandma had passed away, I was not in a good place at all, and I rung the number at top of the letter (which was the esa number), when I spoke to esa on that day (4th December) they did NOT inform that I needed to contact the assessment people or give me there number, so how was I supposed to know to contact them?

    also not a possibility to leave my family in Cornwall and come back home at this time as I am in a VERY VERY bad place mentally right now and I need to be around my family for support and help, if I come home I will be on my own and it will not be a case of if rather when I will end up in hospital under the mental health act.

    i think as esa did wrong giving me the extension then confirming (when it seems they should not have done this) they should give me a small amount of time to get the paper work back into them, as I am only in this mess because of false promises they made (ie the extension)
  • alleepballeepb Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Poppy  I was NOT aware that esa do NOT give extensions, as if that was the case why did esa say I could have the extension when I rung on the 4th December, then confirm the extension in the 2 calls I made after that (on the 20th December and 3rd January),? 

    Surely when I rung on the 4th December they should of said no extension can be given then I would of known where I stood.

    Also keep in mind when i got the letter about the review I had just found out my grandma had passed away, I was not in a good place at all, and I rung the number at top of the letter (which was the esa number), when I spoke to esa on that day (4th December) they did NOT inform that I needed to contact the assessment people or give me there number, so how was I supposed to know to contact them?

    also not a possibility to leave my family in Cornwall and come back home at this time as I am in a VERY VERY bad place mentally right now and I need to be around my family for support and help, if I come home I will be on my own and it will not be a case of if rather when I will end up in hospital under the mental health act.

    i think as esa did wrong giving me the extension then confirming (when it seems they should not have done this) they should give me a small amount of time to get the paper work back into them, as I am only in this mess because of false promises they made (ie the extension)
  • Dotty123Dotty123 Member Posts: 492 Pioneering
    They did that to me said if didn’t get taxi he would change my spot for another month I thought this weird so my friend taking me 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    I totally understand you're going througha very difficult time but i can only tell you the rules, i don't make the rules up.

    DWP don't always give the correct information because they're just reading from a screen. For those with mental health, if no ESA50 is submitted then it's DWP's policy to refer your case to the health assessment providers to consider your claim without the ESA50 form. You can't stop the f2f assessment going ahead, if it's needed. As no form or evidence was sent then the health assessment providers have nothing to look at when considering this review, so a face to face assessment is needed.

    You can try to ring the health assessment providers again to ask if you sent the ESA50 form along with evidence to support your claim would they then take a look at it and reconsider if a paper based assessment can be done but paper based assessments are rare. If they don't agree to the paper based then i urge you to attend the face to face assessment because your ESA will stop for failing to attend. http://www.cpag.org.uk/http:/%2Fwww.cpag.org.uk/content/ask-cpag-online-esa-problem-areas-claims-and-payments-have-you-failed-attend-medical-examina

    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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