Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Fit Note Requests Making Me Ill

Hello Everyone,

Thanks to these forums, I qualified for New Style ESA (cont-based) from Jan 2020 to Jan 2021. My GP is providing fortnightly fit notes that I have to request each time (since January). 

Having to request these fit notes every fortnight, with all the anxiety and worry this creates, is making me worse (I am unfit for work due to mental health issues).  If I don't get ESA, I can't pay my rent, and this is terrifying.

The DWP have written to me and if I don't get a fit note to them by 17/09, they state that I will have to undergo a medical assessment with them.  My current fit note ran out 14/09 and my GP hasn't responded to my online fit note request (I have to ring every time for them to send it to me).

Is there any way around this?  Does anyone have any knowledge about requesting a longer term fit note?  I just can't face doing this for another 5 months, it's really wearing me down.

All advice/information will be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Milly

Replies

  • Cher_ScopeCher_Scope Posts: 4,038

    Scope community team

    Hi @MoochingMinnie and thanks for telling us about your situation.

    If your GP surgery is anything like mine I imagine they will be really busy and that's probably contributing to the delay you are experiencing.  

    Is your GP aware that you experience heightened anxiety around requesting your fit-note?  If not, would you be comfortable requesting a telephone appointment to explain the situation so they could work to better accommodate your need.  

    I appreciate it isn't easy when you have anxiety but your GP is there to support you through this.  

    Please keep us updated with how you get on.
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  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 11,199 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome you really need to speak to your GP, they can supply fit notes for a longer period of time

    It also may not b e a bad thing to have the medical assessment as this could result in your being assessed by DWP as not fit for work and then you dont have to send in fit notes anymore

    The assessment process will involve completing a form then an assessment (currently phone assessment) then a decisionmaker will make a decision

    If you have any further questions just ask
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome,

    You will need to continue to send those fit notes until you're assessed for the work capability assessment and a decision's been made on your claim. If you don't continue to send them then your ESA will stop.

    Can you ask your GP to write you a fit note for a long period of time? This will save having to contact them every 2 weeks because that's really not long at all. I'm sure most people would become very stressed if they had to continue to do this.

    You also said that you need your ESA payments to pay your rent. May i ask if you're living with a working partner? Have you put all of your details into a benefits calculator to check entitlement to Universal Credit? The housing element can be paid to help with your rent but whether you're entitled to anything will depend on your circumstances.

    Your ESA will be deducted £1 for £1 from any UC entitlement. If you have savings/capital of more than £16,000 then you're excluded from claiming. Savings of more than £6,000 will see a reduction of £4.35 per month for every £250 over that amount.


    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.
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,437 Disability Gamechanger
    It's not quite the same but I had a similar issue a few years ago.  The GP that had been sorting my ESA forms left the surgery and the new one I was given had absolutely no understanding of my issues, despite them presumably all being on the system. 

    They basically said they wouldn't complete their side of the ESA form without me visiting the surgery.  I suffer from agoraphobia, social anxiety, contamination OCD and major fears around anything medical...so a surgery visit was impossible for me at that time.  I'd sent emails and letters trying to explain this but they were either ignored or purposely dismissed.

    In the end I was forced into another DWP assessment which I obviously had no choice in, but a jobcentre visit was slightly easier than a surgery visit so it was the lesser of two evils.  That was over 2.5 years ago, the assessor couldn't understand why my GP was being so awkward as the problems I had were obvious.  I haven't had to go through another assessment since!  If at all possible, I'd suggest getting the work capability assessment done asap so you can stop having to request the fit notes.  :)
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you for your kind replies, they're very much appreciated.  Apologies for the delay in getting back to you all, I had a significant mental health wobble.  Thankfully, I've now been provided ongoing support from my local NHS community mental health team.

    Further to your replies, how do I request the WCA?  I am utterly, utterly terrified of contacting the DWP by phone and have been putting it off for months.  However, my ESA (cont-based) is due to end on 16.01.2020 and time is marching on.

    Someone told me that if I'm placed in the ESA Support Group my ESA (cont-based) won't stop and will continue until I'm better. Is this true?  

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    Milly
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You should have already received the work capability assessment form (ESA50) have you not received this? It looks like this..

    If you have received this and filled it out and returned it then you can ring them to ask when to expect the assessment. Link here. https://www.chdauk.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance-esa

    For the work capability assessment most people usually have face to face assessments but because they are currently suspended telephone assessments have taken their place. If they can't get enough of information with the telephone assessment then you will need to wait for the face to face assessments to be back up and running again and there's no sign of that happening anytime soon.

    Yes, if placed into the Support Group your money will continue for as long as you remain in that group.

    In my previous comment i asked you about Universal Credit. Have you put your details into a benefits calculator to check entitlement to this? If you have savings/capital of more than £16,000 you're excluded from claiming. If you live with a partner you need to claim as a couple.

    Please use that benefits calculator because Universal Credit can include help with your rent payments.


    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.
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hello Poppy and thank you for your reply,

    I haven't completed an ESA50, or had one sent to me.  The claim I made was entirely online during the first lockdown in March 2020 (backdated to January). All I've done is send my fit notes online and then I receive a text from DWP that they've received it and to confirm when the payment will go into my bank account.

    Regarding UC, I've completed the benefits calculator and I'm not entitled to it due to savings (not easily accessible and requires a signature from an abusive relative I'm currently estranged from, another story entirely).  Currently, I'm entirely isolated (of my own making and in large part due to mental health issues) and live alone, have no family/friends/partner to ask for financial help if needed.

    Is there any way I can request a paper WCA/ESA50 without speaking to the DWP over the phone?  Phoning the DWP is terrifying.

    Kind regards,

    Milly
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 4,131

    Scope community team

    Hi @MoochingMinnie :) 

    I hope you are safe from the abusive relative? You mention you are estranged from them but I just wanted to check.

    Also, are you able to manage your mental health? Are you receiving support for it?
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  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger


    Is there any way I can request a paper WCA/ESA50 without speaking to the DWP over the phone?  Phoning the DWP is terrifying.

    Kind regards,

    Milly

    You need to contact the Helath Assessment Advisory Service regarding the ESA50/work capability assessment form because they are the ones that deal with this, not DWP. Contact details for them is here. https://www.chdauk.co.uk/contact-us

    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.
  • cupcake88cupcake88 Member Posts: 952 Pioneering
    Hi there have you tried applying for pip ? I currently have pip that’s the only benefit I have due to my partners income . So I don’t know any thing bout other benefits . 

    But I do recieve pip was wondering if you had applied for pip . Keep us all updated . 

    Out of interested with contribution esa does it only last a certain amount of time ? 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    cupcake88 said:

    Out of interested with contribution esa does it only last a certain amount of time ? 

    It's New style ESA now and yes, it's only paid for 1 year unless placed into the Support Group and then it's paid as long as you remain in that group.
    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.
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hi Everyone,

    It's too late. Just received a letter from the DWP that the ESA will end mid-January as I'll have had it for 365 days. They just tell me to claim UC (which I'm not entitled to). They never sent me the ESA50 form to complete. Never had a WCA.

    In answer to those who asked, I'm currently being supported by a NHS Community Mental Health Practitioner and a Mental Health Support Worker who works for my local council. I've also been working with a NHS Occupational Health Therapist since October 2019 (after I had to resign from my job due to poor mental health).

    To be honest, I'm scared and so tired of it all. No jobs to apply for, no income, unemployed, unemployable and mentally unwell.  Not looking good.

    Best,

    Milly

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

    Have you contacted the health assessment advisory service to ask why you haven't been sent the work capability assessment form? I wouldn't advise ringing the DWP for this because they don't deal with those assessments.

    Contact details for those are 0800 288 8777 email [email protected]

    You said your savings are not easily accessable, is there anyone you can speak to ask for them to contact your relative? I think also that some expert advice is needed here regarding those savings. I don't know if it's possible to claim Universal Credit, if you can't access the savings, which is why further advice is needed. Start here for this. https://advicelocal.uk/



    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.
  • Ross_ScopeRoss_Scope Posts: 4,131

    Scope community team

    I'm glad you're receiving support from the mental health support workers @MoochingMinnie, I hope they help.

    Advice Local is a great suggestion from Poppy, I would advise visiting that page and seeing if what they offer might be appropriate for you. 

    Even though things might seem difficult at the moment, I'm sure they will get better soon, and of course the community will support as best as we can. 
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  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hi Poppy,

    Thank you for your very quick response (wasn't expecting a response so soon and went to bed straight after posting)!  

    I've called the number you mentioned in your reply (0800 288 8777) and they said they'll send the form out and that it needs to be completed asap.  They couldn't answer whether or not a decision will be made before the claim is due to be stopped in mid-January and that it will be up to the DWP.  They just said mark the envelope as 'urgent' (scared to do this as it might annoy the DWP).  

    After reading lots and lots of information on benefit advice websites last night, if they stop my ESA claim I won't be entitled to any other benefits due to the savings.  Had they sent the form earlier and I'd been placed in the Support Group they couldn't have stopped the ESA claim.  It's so very frustrating, anxiety-inducing and demoralising.

    Regarding the savings, I'm trying to contact Citizens Advice/local advice services to see what they suggest (most places seem to be offering a reduced service, so it's slow going).  What worries me most is how long it might take to get access to the savings. In the meantime, my bills/rent/food need paying for. 

    Thanks again for your responses, means a lot and is very much appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    Milly
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hi Ross,

    Thanks for your kind words, means a lot, especially being so isolated.  Without this website I don't think I'd have survived this long!

    Best wishes,

    Milly
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    You're welcome,

    They always blame DWP but DWP don't deal with the assessments. The work capability assessment form is sent straight to them, not to DWP. You will have 1 month to return it with all your evidence. When filling out the form you need to put as much relevant information about how your conditions affect you.

    If they don't have enough of information to do a paper based assessment then it will likely be a telephone assessment. Once that's complete if they have enough of information they will write the report and send it back to DWP. If they can't get enough of information from this then you will need to wait for the face to face assessments to start back up again and this has happened to quite a few of our members here.

    There's no timescales for how long it will take, it depends on backlog in your area.

    Good luck.
    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.
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    One quick question.  In the letter it states: 'In order to continue being credited with National Insurance Contributions you may be required to provide medical evidence or attend Work Capability Assessments. We will tell you if you need to do this'.

    Does this mean that they won't close/end my claim mid-January 2021?  If so, it might give me time to get the medical evidence (mental health support worker has offered to write a letter) and complete the form. Might be a longshot, but I'm obsessing over everything now  :(
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    That will be to do with the work capability assessment form that you'll recieve soon. When your payments end, your claim won't just close because you haven't been assessed and no decision's been made yet. Once you've been assessed and a decision's made, if you're placed into the Support Group your payments will start back up again. You will also receive extra money from the 14th week of your claim.
    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.
  • Tori_ScopeTori_Scope Posts: 5,020

    Scope community team

    I'm glad you're getting some help and advice from the community @MoochingMinnie :) Please remember that you can get involved in any conversations you fancy on here. Many of our members feel isolated at the moment, so please feel free to take a look through our virtual coffee lounge and get to know some of our other members.
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  • Girl_No1Girl_No1 Member Posts: 105 Courageous
    @MoochingMinnie just to ask is your Support Worker aware of your financial difficulties?  Have they referred you to a Welfare Rights Officer to maximise your benefits?  If they haven't referred you, could you ask them to do so?

    Also, in terms of the estrangement from your relative, would you be able to contact a local advocacy service and ask for support regarding the financial matter i.e. could they advocate on your behalf with the relative/bank etc?  That said, I think some advocacy services only accept referrals from other agencies e.g. Social Services or CMHTs, so it might be something else to ask your CMHT support worker?  CMHT staff will know whether they need to make a referral or whether you can access the service directly by yourself.  

    Hope these suggestions help a little  I can fully relate to you terror of contacting DWP by phone too.  I was on hold for two hours and thirty-seven minutes the other day, and as stressful as it was holding on I was actually relieved when I got cut off!  Anyone normal would be furious at wasting their time like that but not me - I was relieved I didn't have to speak to an official person!  lol

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if everything could be done online?  I certainly find I can (sometimes!) articulate better when writing than speaking.  Plus, everything seems to take forever .... I know it doesn't but it feels like that, eh?

    In the meantime, try to keep your chin up and remember to make use of the support you have via the CMHT and on here.  :) 


  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,001

    Scope community team

    Hi @MoochingMinnie. Have you had any progress with this at all?
    Community Manager
    Scope
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    edited January 19
    Hi @MoochingMinnie. Have you had any progress with this at all?
    poppy123456 said:
    That will be to do with the work capability assessment form that you'll recieve soon. When your payments end, your claim won't just close because you haven't been assessed and no decision's been made yet. Once you've been assessed and a decision's made, if you're placed into the Support Group your payments will start back up again. You will also receive extra money from the 14th week of your claim.
    Hello Adrian & Poppy,

    Quick (and urgent) update:  They sent me an ESA50 30.11.2020 (deadline was 31.12.2020), which was returned to them in plenty of time (evidence of postage paid for).  

    They wrote to me on 24.12.2020 to tell me that they intend to close the claim on 20.01.2021 (tomorrow) and to claim UC or be assessed for Income-Related ESA (which I'm not entitled to).  They still haven't put me in either group (WRAG, or SG). 

    I rang them on 04.01.2021 and yesterday (18.01.2021) to ask if they had received the ESA50.  First time I called they said they had received the ESA50. Yesterday they said they weren't sure if they'd received the ESA50 and that nothing had been recorded on my claim/account since April 2020. They then said to call back in a week's time (?!).

    If they attempt close the claim without putting me in any group, can I challenge this with a Mandatory Reconsideration?

    Apologies for the urgency, sometimes I just can't face dealing with them and avoid it until it's possibly too late.

    Best wishes,

    Milly
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    HI,

    Your ESA will not close completely. Payments will end on the date stated in the letter because New style ESA is only paid for 365 days unless placed into the Support Group. Your NI credits will continue to paid until they assess your capability for work. Once this has been done if you're placed into the Support Group you'll receive backdated money to the 14th week of your claim.

    Unfortuntately, requesting the Mandatory Reconsideration will not help you here.

    You won't be able to claim for income related ESA because this no longer exists for new claims. The only other benefit is Universal Credit.

    Hope this helps and sorry i couldn't give you any better news.
    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.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,001

    Scope community team

    Hi @MoochingMinnie. I've sent you an email regarding this to try and see if there are other ways Scope can support you. I'm aware UC isn't an option due to savings that you can't access and I'm concerned you're going to be left without an income. 

    Community Manager
    Scope
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hi @MoochingMinnie. I've sent you an email regarding this to try and see if there are other ways Scope can support you. I'm aware UC isn't an option due to savings that you can't access and I'm concerned you're going to be left without an income. 

    Hello Adrian,

    Many thanks for your email, just a quick note to let you know I've replied with the information you requested.

    Best wishes,

    Milly
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    HI,

    Your ESA will not close completely. Payments will end on the date stated in the letter because New style ESA is only paid for 365 days unless placed into the Support Group. Your NI credits will continue to paid until they assess your capability for work. Once this has been done if you're placed into the Support Group you'll receive backdated money to the 14th week of your claim.

    Unfortuntately, requesting the Mandatory Reconsideration will not help you here.

    You won't be able to claim for income related ESA because this no longer exists for new claims. The only other benefit is Universal Credit.

    Hope this helps and sorry i couldn't give you any better news.
    Many thanks for all your replies Poppy, they're greatly appreciated, even if they're not always good news  :)
  • MoochingMinnieMoochingMinnie Member Posts: 15 Listener
    Hello Everyone,

    Quick update:

    Was informed last week by the DWP that an ESA Health Assessor has written to my GP for additional evidence of my health conditions, but they can't tell me what they've asked (?!).  Should I call my GP surgery and find out?  How much time do they give your GP to respond?

    Then I received a letter today to tell me that they have closed my claim, and that if I disagree with the decision to make a mandatory reconsideration within a month.

    Don't know what's going on at all, and no idea what to do next.  All I know for sure is that ESA payments stopped on 21.01.2021.  What a mess...

    Best wishes,

    Milly






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