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ESA Support Group to Wrag

BowieTheCat
BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
Hello everyone,

I'm a new user and would grateful for any help and advice please.

I've been on ESA Support Group since end of 2015.  I had an ESA face to face health assessment on 19th July just gone, I received a letter dated 4th September  stating I had been moved to WRAG, on the same day I also received a letter from Jobcentreplus with an appointment date for 17th September.  

The change to my ESA has had a terrible effect on my mental health, I suffer from anxiety, depression and often have difficulty leaving my home due to panic attacks and severe anxiety.  The appointment for tomorrow has me pannicking so bad I called 111 as I was in such a state, was put through to mental health nurse who advised me to call the jobcentre and explain the situation, I managed to call and spoke to the person I have meeting with, he said it was ok and I didn't need to attend, he said he would do interview over the phone, he will be calling me tomorrow at 10am.
Today I received a letter from the council saying I will have to pay £24 pcm from 1/10/19 due to the changes in my ESA, I'm now on contributary ESA.  I really cannot afford this £24 pcm with he reduction in my ESA as well, I'm freaking out and dont know how to cope with all this, my anxiety is through the roof and I just want to cower and hide.

I live alone and never really have any contact with others or any organisations, I live a totally isolated life and have nobody at all to speak to or help or advise me on how best to approach this situation.

I know I should ask for mandatory reconsideration but right now I'm frozen with anxiety and don't know what to do.

Are there any organisations I could get help from over the phone or maybe and advocacy service I could contact for help and support with this?

Any help or advice will be very much appreciated.
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Comments

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    May i ask if you claim PIP or DLA?

    If you don't then the reasons for the changes in your housing benefit will most likely be because the benefit cap now apples to you because you're no longer in the Support Group for ESA. It's not because you're now claiming contributions based ESA. See link which explains the benefit cap. https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/benefits-cap

    When you were previously in the Support Group you would have been excluded from the benefit cap.

    You can ask your local council for a discretionary housing payment which will help with the shortfall of your rent. For this you'll need to ring them an ask them to send you form. It's not guaranteed that you will receive anything and i would advise you to get some help with filling out the form.


    For the ESA decision, if you disagree then you have 1 month from the date of the decision to request the Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) you should put this in writing stating why you think you should be placed into the Support Group. If you didn't send evidence previously to support your claim then i'd advise you to send it with the MR letter. Good luck.


  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Hi Poppy,

    Thank you for your quick reply.

    I've phoned CAB and was advised to explain to my work coach when he phones me tomorrow for first appointment that I feel I've been placed in the wrong group and to explain why I feel I've been placed in the wrong group and that DWP should reconsider my group.  If he disagrees with me that I'm in the incorrect group to phone CAB and they will advise me what to do next.

    Thanks again

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    Which group you've been placed into has nothing to do with your work coach, if you disagree with the decision you need to request the MR within 1 month of the date of the decision. It doesn't matter what your work coach thinks, i'm not even sure why CAB have advised you this.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    I thought the same but decided that I would do as I was advised kind of knowing that the work coach can't change the decision. 
    I know I will be phoning back CAB again tomorrow to help me with the MR
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,557 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @BowieTheCat, I hope CAB will be able to help you tomorrow. Please do keep us updated. :)
    Scope

  • worried33
    worried33 Member Posts: 411 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    Note also councils have discretion in how they provide council tax support.  There is no longer a national rule on this (for working age).  So its a postcode lottery in that respect.

    I suggest going to your GP to explain you need some kind of mental health support, and see what they offer.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Hello and thanks to all who replied to me,

    I had my call with the work coach yesterday morning for what he called thenew joiner work focused interview.
    He asked me some questions about how my health affects me, I explained and he asked me some questions about medication, how I cope from day to day.
    The call lasted 11 minutes, he finished by saying he hopes I feel better soon, to call him if I have any questions or need anything, he wished me all the best, said god bless and then the call was over.

    I tried calling citizens advice several tinmes yesterday afternnoon but got no reply, the same has happened today, no reply after about 12 calls being on hold listening to options that dont apply to me.

    I called DWP to ask for written statement of the decision to place me from SG to WRAG, was told I might not receive it until 1st October which is 3 days before MR cutoff point, my decision letter is dated 4 Sept.

    I also queried if I was on CB ir IR esa as I'm really worried baout prescription costs and CT payments, was told mine is CB so I would have to pay for prescriptions, I have weekly prescriptions and there is no way I can afford to pay £9 per week or whatever the amount is, I explained this to the DWP man, he told me I should apply for PIP and text me the PIP number.

    I'm so down about all this that I'm not coping very well.  Not beng able to contact CAB is really distressing me.

    Not sure what to do next.




  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    If you live alone then your ESA should be Income Related and not Contributions based. When you were in the Support Group were you receiving £128.45 per week? If you were then you would have been claiming Income Related, which will be the same now you're in the WRAG.

    Also, you do not need the assessment report to write your letter for the MR. All you need to do is put the reasons why you think you should be placed into the support group and why. Any evidence you have to support your claim should be sent with the MR letter. Support Group descriptors here. https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-glossary/1353-support-group-descriptors

    Regulation 35 explained here. Scroll to the bottom of this link. If you're claiming for mental health then it will most likely be this one you need to concentrate on and not the descriptors above.

    CAB are often extremely busy and it can take forever for someone to answer the phone. Try putting your post code into this link to see if there's any other advice agency in your area. https://advicelocal.uk/



  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Hi Poppy,

    When I started ESA I was contributations based, I asked for the form to be transferred to IB which it was and I was receiving the full amount.
    The guy at DWP even went to check with someone else while I held the line and he came back and said that yes I am on IB esa.  Can I ask them to change this?  If I do as, will they put me on Universal Credit?

    I know CAB are very busy so I checked my local area, there is a walk in centre called BAC in my area, I will try to get to them tomorrow with all my paperwork.

    I will also ask my GP to write me a letter to send with the MR form.

    Thanks for all your help.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    IB is income based or Income related as it's known as. As you were claiming the Income related top up then you will remain on Income related now you're in the WRAG. You won't go back onto Contributions based because you were placed into the WRAG. This means that you're prescriptions are still free.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Sorry, I meant to write IR and not IB.  
    Wheb I asked the DWP guy he diefnitely said I was CB esa and would now have to pay for my perscriptions, he even double checked with one of his colleagues as he didn't seem too sure at first.

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    If you were claiming IR when in the support group then you will remain on that now you're in the WRAG because you've already been assessed for the IR part and the only thing that's changed is you've changed groups. Your circumstances remain the same.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    He said something about CB over riding IR so I would remain on CB and have to pay for perscriptions. 
    I will call them again tomorrow and ask them to clarify

    Thanks Poppy
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    CB is only paid for 365 days unless placed into the support group so anytime spent in the WRAG in previous years would count against this time. Yes, CB does override IR but in your case it won't because your circumstances haven't changed.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    I will call DWP tomorrow and ask them to look again to see if they have made an error regarding which type esa I should be receiving
  • worried33
    worried33 Member Posts: 411 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    From my experience CB has always took priority over IR.

    So typically if one person qualified for both on benefits, they would always get CB, that has been the case for me on every single benefit claim I have ever made.

    The way the DWP work round this on ESA is of course still awarding CB, but then giving IR topups so one is effectively on both awards.  However on WRAG since both are the same there would be no IR topup so just the CB ESA.

    Dont worry about the CB based ESA, instead you can claim a HC2 certificate from the NHS for free prescriptions.  I used to do this every year without problem until I started getting my IR topups.

    https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme/hc2-certificates-full-help-health-costs

    HC2 cert's also give transport cost help to hospital appointments and free NHS dental treatment.

    If yo are still in WRAG in 12 months time the DWP should then move you over to IR ESA.
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,557 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @BowieTheCat, I'm sorry this is causing you so much stress. Has today been positive at all?
    Scope

  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Hi worried33 and Chloe,

    worried33 thank you for the information about how I can get my prescriptions without forking out nearly £10 a week which I do not have.  I will wait until after MR decision before I apply, I'm really hoping I get a good result.

    Chloe, yes, I've been super stressed, have had knots in my stomach for the past few days.  It was only today I felt well enough to call my GP, just spoke to him on the phone to ask for a letter to send with my MR form,   

    Hope you all have a great weekend.

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 28,607 Disability Gamechanger
    Did you ring DWP again to ask exactly what you're claiming? Although CB overrules income related in your case you haven't had a change of circumstances to revert back to CB.

    If you're just going to apply for the HC2 then i wouldn't advise you to wait for the MR decision because this can take 10 weeks in some cases. Most MR decisions remain the same, so it's very likely you'll have to take it to Tribunal. I would apply ASAP for the HC2 if that's what you're planning on doing.
  • BowieTheCat
    BowieTheCat Member Posts: 14 Connected
    Hi Poppy,

    I didn't ring DWP to confirm as I was way too stressed about everything, have hardly been out of my bed the last 2 days.  It was only today I managed to even phone my GP for the letter.  I must say I ddin't send any medical evidence with my esa claim form so maybe the lack of any kind of medical evidence/ Dr's letter went against me.

    I will print off the HC2 form Monday when I go the library to print out MR form.

    Thanks you Poppy for being so helpful.

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