Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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Should i apply for 'support group'?

Hi,

I've had mental health for well over a decade and stopped working 10 years ago because of it (see my post in welcome/introduction). I've been on JSA then ESA during this time. I've attended the mandatory 'lie detector tests' that the DWP force on us - almost always at my home - and have been in the work related activity group this whole time. I'm physically able to work (in theory), i'm in my late 30s, but my issues are of a psychological kind. Perhaps this is why i've always been in the work related group, and never in the support group.

It was on a phone call a few months ago that a DWP phone operator told me it was 'odd' that i've been in the work related group this whole time. She asked if i wanted her to 'put me in' (or maybe 'apply for you to be put in') the support group. I told her i didn't want anything being changed (for fear i'd have to attend yet another medical assessment). 

Anyway, i may have to move soon and money will be an issue, which has brought this back into my mind. I called DWP and told them the above, and was basically told i was most likely put in the work related group because of me being of working age, not physically disabled etc. It all sounded like he wanted me off the phone. He did tell me it looks like i'm due an assessment this year, which made me think i'd ask why i've never been on support group at it.

To be honest, i'm not that concerned. I was just wondering if the above sounds about right - the reasons i'm on work related group - and if anybody on here tried to be put in support group and succeeded? 

Replies

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

    We have a lot of members here, including myself that are in the Support Group/LCWRA. Whether you fit the criteria for this group will totally depend on how your conditions affect you.

    With the WRAG, they are not saying you're fit for work, thewy acknowledge, you're not. What they do expect is that you prepare for work, which means attending appointments, whether that's face to face (in normal times) or telephone appointments. Those that are in the Support Group do not have attend any appointments.

    If it's purely mental health that you suffer from then the route into the Support Group for you, is likely to be reg35, which means there would be a substantial risk to yourself and others if you were either found fit for work or fit for work related activit and this must apply the majority of the time. Information here regarding reg35. https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2955-regulation-35-2-b-is-now-the-main-route-into-esa-support-group

    Also explained here but as LCWRA, which is the same as Support Group. https://wcainfo.net/issues/substantial-risk-lcwra

    No one here can tell you whether you would qualify for this because we don't know how your conditions affect you. Whether you put in for a change of circumstances is your decision but before doing this i'd advise you to get some expert advice from an agency near you. Start her for this. https://advicelocal.uk/

    You also mention moving house. If you'll need to claim for help with any rent and you move to a different local council then you will need to claim UC for this. Your support Group award will be honoured in UC and you'll be placed into the LCW group, if you're still in the WRAG when you move house.

    If you're already claiming housing benefit and you stay within the same local council then you can claim for housing benefit again.

    Hope this helps.



    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.
  • ryan123ryan123 Member Posts: 19 Connected
    With regards to WRAG, i have never had to go down jobcentre or look for work. That's why the DWP operator i spoke to said it was odd. She said usually i'd have to look for work and i said nobody has ever contacted me, in almost a decade. That's when she mentioned putting me in support group to which i said if i've been off their radar this long, i'd rather not risk it.

    Then when i spoke to the DWP operator a few days ago, he seemed to be making up the answers as he went along. For example, saying WRAG don't *have* to look for work, and that i was obviously ill and hence why i'm not told to look for work, and then mentioning that i'm probably on it because of my age and non-physical illness. 
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Although asking someone from DWP is the best place to go to for advice on this occasion they are correct and the person from your local job centre is not correct. Being in the WRAG doesn't mean you have to look for work because they acknowledge you have a health condition that prevents you from working.

    Attending appointments maybe needed whether this be in person (in normal times) or through telephone but sometimes people don't even have to do that, it depends what work coach you have.

    Whether you report the changes is your decision but like you said, there is a risk that you could lose what you already have, so i'd advise you to speak to an advice agency near you for further advice. This way you can tell them how your conditions affect you and they will be able to advice whether you fit the Support Group descriptors or not.
    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.
  • ryan123ryan123 Member Posts: 19 Connected
    I think i will just leave it as it is. As i said to the DWP person at the time, i'd rather not deal with more changes, another assessment etc. When i spoke to DWP person last week, he seemed to suggest i was on the list for an assessment soon anyway. I might bring it up at my next assessment.
  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger
    Sounds like a wise decision. What you should do when you receive your next work capability assessment forms is add as much relevant information as possible. With mental health it would very likely be reg35 that would get you support group award.

    Good luck when the time comes.
    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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