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Clarification of work capability assessment/esa urgently needed please
Hello. Please bear with me while I try to keep the backstory brief... I've been on disability benefits a long time due to progressive physical conditions - DLA 15+ years at highest levels prior to PIP. But ESA has not been an issue until this month. I filled the annual ESA renewal form in March and got the decision letter a week later, then continued with ESA as usual from April, with no issues. Then this month (May) I got an appointment letter from the assessment centre telling me to come in - there was no reason given what the appointment was for, nor why. I sent a rec del letter to DWP and the centre asking what it was for, and that I'd already had a home PIP assessment, plus my ESA had been decided for 2019 and I was receiving it; but that if an assessment was necessary I need a home visit, which I've always had previously as I can't get to the centre, plus it is over 90 mins travel distance. I got a swift reply from the centre manager telling me it was for ESA and if I didn't attend I would be counted as a non-attender, plus I needed to send proof I couldn't attend. Please note this all required rapid reponses as I'd been given two weeks notice of the appointment, which included the bank holiday and the centre's reply gave me two working days to get the proofs. I wrote by rec del again to the manager asking for a new appointment as I wouldn't be able to attend as I need a home visit and that I needed at least 4 weeks to see a GP to get a letter from them. I got no reply, plus I've not yet had any reply from my letter to DWP. Now I've received BF223(ESA) form to prove why I didn't attend, which says I must return it by 29th, though it only actually arrived on the 29th, or lose my benefit - it says it was for a work capability assessment - which the manager didn't mention in his reply, plus I've never been asked on one of those before.
Please could you confirm to me...
1. Do claimants in the income related disabled ESA group have to go for work assessments?
2. Is it common for everyone that (or legal) to be given less than one week to respond to the BF223 and to receive it on the very day of its deadline for a reply? I read in a FOI request that the BF223 is only sent if the claimant misses two assessment dates - is this still true?
3. Is it still true that if the centre is over 90 mins travel time you cannot be compelled to attend?
4. PLEASE could you supply govmnt/DWP links where I can find this evidence, because the 'interlink' gov site links are no longer online and I can't find the official guidelines to ATOS/Maximums about this anymore.
Thank you so much for your help.
It seems to be getting harder and harder to find the current official operating guidelines for PIP and ESA - as though the govmnt are hiding them from us.
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