Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Clarification of work capability assessment/esa urgently needed please

englandwomanesapipenglandwomanesapip Member Posts: 5 Listener
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.


  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger

    The letter you received for ESA saying it was continuing as usual was most likely the yearly up rating letter that is sent to everyone. As you had only returned the form a week prior to that then it would have been far too early to have received a decision just a week later.

    1/ Most people claiming ESA have face to face assessments, it's rare to have a paper based one.

    2/ the BF223 form is what DWP send to those that failed to attend an assessment. I'm not sure how long they give you to return that back to them. As you failed to attend the WCA then you will need to send that form back with your reasons why. Although as you only just received the letter then it won't be possible to return it by the date stated. You really should ring them about that because the next step will be to stop your ESA and find you fit for work.

    3/ If the assessment centre is more than 90 minutes away then you can ask for another assessment centre but this does count as one canceled appointment.

    4/ Are you asking for confirmation of the above with the links? Sorry i'm not sure exactly what links you're asking for here.
    Community champion and 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
    One other thing i didn't mention. Even though you attended a PIP assessment you would still need to attend the work capability assessment because they are different benefits, with different criteria. People claim PIP and work.

    What you need to concentrate on with that form is the reasons why you didn't attend the assessment. It's always better to ring them regarding changing/canceling appointment times because this way it's dealt with so much quicker.

    It's standard procedure for them to return your file to DWP when a claimant has failed to attend the WCA.
    Community champion and 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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