Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Unfairly Stopped ESA interviewed over phone

Lynette_blondeLynette_blonde Member Posts: 1 Listener
Hello, 

My name's Lynette. I have been on disability benefit for more than 25 years.  I suffer from chronic anxiety, depression and agoraphobia.  I also have three slipped discs and arthritis in both knees (the one of which has cartilage that needs to be removed and it locks) I was finally rewarded PIP enhanced both components two years ago. 
 Last week an extremely aggressive decision maker rang me over the phone to tell me that I had missed three back to work interviews.  But I don't open my letters because of extreme depression over losing my 21 year old daughter 4 years ago and agoraphobia, which means I find it difficult interacting with ppl.  And so I avoid contact with ppl.
 The DWP are aware of this and I usually have home visits,  however,  this time an extremely nasty decision maker phoned me and started firing questions at me over the phone, I got in such a state I had to hand the phone over to my son. He asked my son why he didn't open my letters for me and even put this in the refusal letter (but my son is not my carer and works full time)
 I usually as I have agoraphobia have home interviews but he said there was no record of my agoraphobia, only anxiety.  Although, I've had home visits previously and this must be on my records.  The decision maker was firing questions at MY son also and before he could answer one, the man was onto the next question. 
 Should he have been allowed to call me, out of the blue and interrogate me like this? He stopped my ESA immediately and I panicked and sent in the mandatory form very quickly (leaving out a lot of information about my disabilities) it was refused within a couple of days.  I am just at a loss and devastated as I had only just been rewarded it after years of suffering.  Is there anything I can do to get it back? And are there any benefits I can claim in the meantime to help? Please help and thank you for reading. 
Thanks, 
Lynette 

Replies

  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    I'm sorry to hear this.

    You say you didn't attend a back to work interview and i assume you mean the work capability assessment?

    Failing to attend the assessment has found you fit for work. As you requested the MR which didn't change the decision you now have 1 month from that date to request the Tribunal. The Tribunal will be because you were found fit for work for failing to attend and this is what you need to concentrate on, your reasons why you didn't attend the assessment. You'll need to send evidence to support your claim, to the Tribunal, if you didn't do this for the MR. Appearing in person will give you the best chance of a decision in your favour.

    As you were found fit for work for failing to attend then you won't receive any ESA payments while waiting for the Tribunal. Once the Tribunal make a decision on your claim then your file will be returned to the health assessment providers for the assessment. Once the assessment has taken a place a decision will then be made on your claim.

    This whole process could take a very long time, unfortunately.

    May i ask if you live with your son or do you live alone? If you don't live alone and your son doesn't claim a qualifying benefit then you won't be receiving the severe disability premium in with your ESA. This will mean that the only benefit you can claim while you wait will be Universal Credit. If you claim this then you won't ever be able to go back onto ESA.

    Once you claim UC then any housing benefit you receive will be transferred to UC and be paid as one monthly payment.

    If you decide not to claim UC and you're claiming housing benefit then you'll need to contact your local council to ask to fill out a nil income form and then your housing benefit will continue.

    To answer your questions about the phone call. Yes, the decision maker usually rings the claimant if your ESA stops because of being found fit for work. During the phone call did you pass the phone onto your son and give him permission to continue the call on you behalf?

    I highly doubt that the home visits you previously had would be on your records with DWP because they don't deal with assessments, the health assessment providers deal with those.

    I'm really sorry that there's no easy solution to this. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask.
    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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