Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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ESA face-to-face interview

Hello everyone, I am new here and was hoping for some help as I am currently in a bad way.

I filled in a form about my medical condition and explained in detail in it about my mental health problems which include severe anxiety and debilitating panic attacks as well as ongoing depression. I also pointed out that I very rarely leave the house and on the occasions I do - usually to go the doctors for repeat prescription assessment - I have to take valium to do so.

I received a letter a few days ago saying that I have to go for a face-to-face assessment in North-West London which is a long way from me and it is impossible for me to travel that far. I telephoned them and explained to a not too helpful person my situation and the first thing they said was can you go to somewhere else and I explained yet again my situation. He then, almost reluctantly, told me to contact my doctors and to get them to send a letter explaining why I can't attend and if this is acceptable then I may be granted a home interview. I did this and I am due to speak to my GP on Wednesday. 

The question I have is why didn't the person reading the form I initially sent recognise this before scheduling an appointment so far away?

So I am now waiting to speak to my GP but the worry and fear has dramatically worsened my condition. I have a constant feeling of nervousness, my anxiety is off the scale and I have that horrible feeling of vulnerability where you feel like you are about to burst into tears at any second. I have had serious suicidal thoughts every day since and feeling like this honestly makes me not want to be here any more but I am hanging on.

If anyone reading this has been in a similar situation with regard to this entire process and has any advice I would be very grateful for any help as I am really struggling at the moment. 

Thank you.

Replies

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

    It's possible that the appointment for the face to face assessment was automatically generated by the computer. Did you send evidence to support your claim? They very rarely contact anyone for any evidence.

    Attending other appointments can go against you when requesting a home assessment and a letter from your GP doesn't guarantee you'll be given the home assessment. The letter you send needs to state the reasons why you can't attend the assessment centre.

    You can only cancel one appointment so please be aware of this.

    If the appointment is closer to home are you able to get someone to attend it with you? This can often help with any anxiety.
    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.
  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    If they contact your doctor they just ask whether you can attend in person or not, and on mine the doctor ticked yes because I can get to the GP surgery for appointments. My f2f was cancelled because I already qualify based on not being able to move at all without using a powered wheelchair and they hadn't read notes - but otherwise I would have had to go. My partner has mental ill health and couldn't go to an assessment without severe anxiety and I had to go with him. I would suggest taking someone with you and everything else you usually need to leave your home. If you have to get a doctors note it can take a while, costs money, has to have exact reasons why you can't go to the centre but can attend GP appointments, and still might not be accepted. My partner had just had spinal surgery and was in an attendant pushed chair. Our GP asked how we got home from hospital if he wasn't bedbound and refused to say he couldn't attend because he could go outside with help. I also have anxiety and years ago had a face to face when I claimed ESA briefly. I went back to work without getting the result of my assessment but was put in the support group. I had 2 diazepam in the waiting area and that helped a lot and was taken into account. 
  • robbo555robbo555 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    I didn't send any evidence as they asked me to provide names of people they could contact to verify what I included in the form. In fact I am certain that I said on more occasion that attending any assessment would not be possible. 

    I don't understand how I am supposed to attend an assessment when I have clearly stated that I barely leave the house.

    I will speak to my GP on Wednesday about this but I am getting increasingly concerned. This whole thing is worrying me sick and is affecting me badly. 
  • siobhan1siobhan1 Member Posts: 77 Pioneering
    edited September 2019
    If they did contact anyone like your GP they are asked on the form whether you can attend and the doctor ticks yes or no. I've send the form with my own eyes. You would usually need to be bedbound or terminal and on the home visit list at your GP. Hope you get it sorted but from what I gather home visits for ESA are very rare and I would put all of your energy into being able to attend the assessment of you don't get anywhere with GP or the assessment company. It does seem very unfair when you have mental ill health... Do you usually attend your GP surgery for appointments? 
  • robbo555robbo555 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    siobhan1 said:
    If they contact your doctor they just ask whether you can attend in person or not, and on mine the doctor ticked yes because I can get to the GP surgery for appointments. My f2f was cancelled because I already qualify based on not being able to move at all without using a powered wheelchair and they hadn't read notes - but otherwise I would have had to go. My partner has mental ill health and couldn't go to an assessment without severe anxiety and I had to go with him. I would suggest taking someone with you and everything else you usually need to leave your home. If you have to get a doctors note it can take a while, costs money, has to have exact reasons why you can't go to the centre but can attend GP appointments, and still might not be accepted. My partner had just had spinal surgery and was in an attendant pushed chair. Our GP asked how we got home from hospital if he wasn't bedbound and refused to say he couldn't attend because he could go outside with help. I also have anxiety and years ago had a face to face when I claimed ESA briefly. I went back to work without getting the result of my assessment but was put in the support group. I had 2 diazepam in the waiting area and that helped a lot and was taken into account. 
    Thanks for the reply.

    They asked me to get in touch with my doctor and for my doctor to fax them a letter explaining why I can't attend. I'm not sure if this is different to getting a doctor's note but I am almost certain I did this before when this last happened. 
  • robbo555robbo555 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    siobhan1 said:
    If they did contact anyone like your GP they are asked on the form whether you can attend and the doctor ticks yes or no. I've send the form with my own eyes. You would usually need to be bedbound or terminal and on the home visit list at your GP. Hope you get it sorted but from what I gather home visits for ESA are very rare and I would put all of your energy into being able to attend the assessment of you don't get anywhere with GP or the assessment company. It does seem very unfair when you have mental ill health... Do you usually attend your GP surgery for appointments? 
    I do attend the GP surgery but that is only because it is only 5 minutes away and even then I have to take valium to attend. All this is really worrying. I am in a real state about it and I am having some pretty dark thoughts right now. I have a hard enough time getting through the day as it is a lot of the time and this is the last thing I need.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You shouldn't assume they contact anyone because this very rarely happens. If they send your GP a form, it's a simple tick box form that contains very little information about your conditions. A GP will very rarely know how your conditions affect you.

    I'm sorry you're feeling this way please do speak to your GP who will hopefully be able to give you some medical advice.

    If the worst does happen and they still say you have to attend an assessment centre do you have someone that can go with you? A family member or friend?


    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.
  • robbo555robbo555 Member Posts: 5 Listener
    You shouldn't assume they contact anyone because this very rarely happens. If they send your GP a form, it's a simple tick box form that contains very little information about your conditions. A GP will very rarely know how your conditions affect you.

    I'm sorry you're feeling this way please do speak to your GP who will hopefully be able to give you some medical advice.

    If the worst does happen and they still say you have to attend an assessment centre do you have someone that can go with you? A family member or friend?


    My GP has been really good with me and understands and has helped me a lot. 

    I get very scared and anxious about leaving the house at any time, even with a family member so I don't go out. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    As you haven't sent any evidence to support your claim do you have anything that you can send?

    Paper based assessments are rare but it does happen and definitely possible if you send the evidence that proves how your conditions affect you. If you didn't fill out the form with as much information as possible, giving real life examples to go with it then the chances of you needing a face to face assessment were always going to be much greater.

    If you have that evidence my advice is to ring the health assessment providers tomorrow morning and tell them you have evidence to send and ask for the address of where to send it. Then speak to your GP for a letter for the home assessment. Whether or not it will help, i really don't know.


    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.
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    Hello @robbo555

    Welcome to the forums. 

    Check with the Health Advisory Service about reasonable adjustments. These are some examples: 

    A special kind of chair
    A same sex assessor
    A spacious room
    A interpreter or signer 
    A ground floor assessment room 

    For more information on preparing for a ESA assessment, take a look at this article. 

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/employment-and-support-allowance/help-with-your-esa-claim/esa-medical-assessment/

    If you need to request accommodations or if you have other questions you can either contact the helpline on 0800 288 8777 or email [email protected] 

    Good luck! 

    Take a pen with you. Also have spare money in case. It is a good idea to take a friend for support to the assessment with you too. Make sure to contact the DWP office to obtain a copy of the assessment report afterwards as well. 
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,652 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @robbo555, and welcome to the community!

    I'm sorry this has been so stressful for you and we appreciate how difficult it can be to leave the house.

    Poppy has given great advice, but please let us know if there is anything we can do to help. :)
    Community Partner
    Scope

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