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Help regarding an appeal to the tribunal about my WCA

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brandon1999
brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
Hi,
In the last few months, I filled in a WCA form with my UC to see if I was fit for work, they ultimately denied me, and I appealed for a tribunal hearing. It's been about 5 months since then and haven't heard about when the hearing will take place and the DWP are adamant about me being fit for work despite that not being the case)

I'm 23 and have been suffering from severe lower back pain as well as depression, general anxiety and especially social anxiety that prevent me from really living properly let alone being mentally able to work.

My lower back pain is so severe I can't even really go outside as soon as I've been walking for around a few minutes my backpain immediately gets to the point where I physically can't continue walking and have to sit around for a while before being able to even go back home. I was still awarded 0 points by the DWP on their WCA and I'm paranoid and anxious about the tribunal hearing.

My mental health issues also prevent me from even socialising with people (I only ever socialise with my dad, and I live with him, I haven't been in contact with other family for years at this point talking to people even over the phone causes severe anxiety attacks. These have even prevented me from seeking professional help in regard to these mental health issues. I can't comfortably talk to people let alone discuss serious mental health issues takes such a toll. These issues as well as the pressure from the DWP with appointments and such and now even being sanctioned after not being able due to meet these appointments because of my anxiety only take a more severe toll on my mental health and prevent me from trying to better my situation properly.

I'm mostly just terrified and I was hoping for some support or assurance really. during the initial phases of the WCA I only mentioned by back pain prior and started to briefly discuss my mental health issues but didn't discuss completely. I also fabricated facts such as me going outside to exercise for my back pain as I was paranoid if I said I hadn't because of my anxiety they wouldn't take the excuse seriously and I would be reprimanded for not trying to remedy my back pain.  I have explained this to the tribunal for evidence for the appeal and the DWP are using the fact that I attended some of their phone calls as well as the video assessment and call with my GP (for a fit note which the DWP required) as evidence that I'm able to cope around being with people and going out on my own when in fact they're discounting the fact that I had to do any of this in order to meet their demands otherwise I would have to look for work (My previous call centre job I took to help my social anxiety only make it progressively worse to the point I attempted suicide and can no longer even leave my house or properly communicate with people) I only therefore did any of that because they had me do it and they're not taking into account the toll it took on me with constant panic attacks, stress before and after these appointments. 

I'm just terrified honestly and completely alone with dealing with it. I also can't attend the tribunal hearing because of my anxiety. Would they acknowledge this to be the case or would it impact me more negatively not going. I don't have anyone I can speak to about my issues that could even speak on my behalf.

For example, in an issue regarding me being able to cope around being with people they used the fact that I was able to speak to a GP and attend that appointment (for a fit note) as evidence that these issues don't prevent me from looking for work. They don't take into account of course that I have to get that fit note otherwise I'll found fit for work have to look for it otherwise be sanctioned and look for it otherwise, a task that I'm scared will completely wreck my mental health even more.

Does this kind of thing sound fair? I've been told the DWP are known for not taking enough evidence into account and such and I'm just hoping for some reassurance that this doesn't sound reasonable, and the tribunal hearing is a morefair judgement.

Comments

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,287 Championing
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    It seems like to me that you're concentrating on their evidence more than your own. What you need to do is look to see if there's any weaknesses in your evidence, rather than the strength of DWPs.
    Have you written your submission for the Tribunal? If you haven't then you should do this and include a couple of real world incidents of exactly what happened when you attempted each activity that applies to you. Adding detailed information such as where you were, what exactly happened, did anyone see it and what the concequences were. You should aim for at least half an A4 side of paper per descriptor that applies to you.
    You can see the descriptors for LCWRA here. Only one of these needs to apply the majority of the time. https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/universal-credit-uc/uc-faq/limited-capability-for-work-related-activity
    You also mention that you're not planning on appearing in person. Are you aware that you can ask for a telephone or video hearing? Paper based hearings have less than 10% success rate. Telephone/video or in person all have a much higher success rate.
    Please also be aware that the Tribunal are unable to take into consideration any worsening of condition.

    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Championing
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    Hello @brandon1999 and thank you for reaching out this morning, I hope that we can help support you. Has Poppy's reply helped to reassure you?

    Do you think a telephone or video hearing would be easier for you to manage than an in-person Tribunal?

    I'm so sorry to hear how much stress this is all causing and that you feel completely alone in dealing with it. You are not alone, and reaching out here is a really positive step. Keep an eye out for an email from community@scope.org.uk a little later today with information on additional support.  

    Often things like can feel like a real uphill battle, and I'm sure plenty of our members can relate to the distress this causes. Let us know if you feel we can support you further with anything, even if it's just a chat to offload :) 

    Alex
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

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  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    It seems like to me that you're concentrating on their evidence more than your own. What you need to do is look to see if there's any weaknesses in your evidence, rather than the strength of DWPs.
    Have you written your submission for the Tribunal? If you haven't then you should do this and include a couple of real world incidents of exactly what happened when you attempted each activity that applies to you. Adding detailed information such as where you were, what exactly happened, did anyone see it and what the concequences were. You should aim for at least half an A4 side of paper per descriptor that applies to you.
    You can see the descriptors for LCWRA here. Only one of these needs to apply the majority of the time. https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/universal-credit-uc/uc-faq/limited-capability-for-work-related-activity
    You also mention that you're not planning on appearing in person. Are you aware that you can ask for a telephone or video hearing? Paper based hearings have less than 10% success rate. Telephone/video or in person all have a much higher success rate.
    Please also be aware that the Tribunal are unable to take into consideration any worsening of condition. 

    Thank you for the response and taking time to answer my query. I have sent a submission to the tribunal however I will probably send new evidence framed as you've suggested. Do you know if there are examples of how to properly structure examples around these questions? I was focused on arguing the DWP's points as it just has made me anxious about their points being based on something I had to do once to avoid having to look for work something I know would take a much more severe toll on me.

    I can definitely explain how I'm not able to properly mobilise more than 50 metres without suffering from extreme pain and this prevents me from properly getting around in a reasonable time frame. the GP visit I had been not even 5 minutes away and this turned into a 20-minute trip there and about 35-40 minutes back just sat waiting for my pain to ease somewhat. I can also definitely explain that I'm not able to cope with social engagement or even change to my daily routine as those appointments with DWP and that one with my GP caused me to panic several days before, not being able to sleep properly, eat properly, shower or just take care of myself I just can't concentrate properly. 

    Universal Credit on the basis of having limited capability to work - activities and descriptors, and 'substantial risk' | Advicenow

    This website mentions that something called "substantial risk" may also be taken into account. It does mention as an example if my condition would be made worse if found fit to work. I have mentioned how the initial rejection from DWP about my WCA has made my condition worse and I've had to just avoid contact with them on several occasions even if planned due to my anxiety. I also mentioned the example of my last major job being in a cell centre I took to help with my social anxiety only complicated my condition to the point I haven't left my home in around 3 but I think more years at this point and cut off contact with pretty much everyone I know outside of my dad who I live with. These were examples of how it's already been made worse by not just working but even being found fit for work. I have mentioned these examples, but should I mention this as evidence for why being found fit for work may be a substantial risk to myself? I understand you said they don't take into account worsening of the condition though so I'm just a bit confused. 

    Sorry if a lot of this comes off as really idiotic, I don't really know what I'm doing and I'm just panicked. 
  • durhamjaide2001
    durhamjaide2001 Scope Member Posts: 11,216 Championing
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    I'm sorry you are having to go to tribunal I had to go through one to get to a private school and lost it can cause anxiety and mental health issues the community is here if you need anything. 
  • Alex_Alumni
    Alex_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,561 Championing
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    Hi @brandon1999 it's not at all idiotic, it's completely understandable for you to have queries if you're not familiar with something, so please don't worry.

    I'm not sure if you've received my earlier email, but a good starting point might be speaking to an adviser about structuring responses. You could contact Advice Local, or perhaps the Scope Helpline by phone or email if you prefer. 

    Apologies if you saw any duplicated posts, they got caught up in the spam filter, but I've sorted this now :) 
    Online Community Coordinator
    Scope

    Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Flag your concerns with us.

    Want to give us feedback? Complete our feedback form now.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,287 Championing
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    Please be aware that the mobilising activity takes into consideration your ability to use a manual wheelchair, it's not just about how far you can walk, this is why it's called mobilising.



    Universal Credit on the basis of having limited capability to work - activities and descriptors, and 'substantial risk' | Advicenow

    This website mentions that something called "substantial risk" may also be taken into account. It does mention as an example if my condition would be made worse if found fit to work.

    Yes, substantial risk is also taken into consideration if non of the LCWRA descriptors apply to you. It also mentions the risk in the link i provided above.
    Do you know if there are examples of how to properly structure examples around these questions? I was focused on arguing the DWP's points 
    There's no examples on the internet that i know of on how to structure the examples. You just have to tell it as it is. There's no right or wrong words you need to use.
    Trying to argue the point with DWP in this way isn't the best idea because the Tribunal already know that alot of assessment reports are flawed.


     I have mentioned how the initial rejection from DWP about my WCA has made my condition worse and I've had to just avoid contact with them on several occasions even if planned due to my anxiety.

    That wasn't the best idea because as i advised earlier in my other comment, the Tribunal will not take into consideration any worsening of condition since the decision was made.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    Thank you for the further advice, everyone, I will be sure to contact Scope Helpline to see if they can help in anyway. I understand you said I should focus on my own points rather than arguing the DWP's evidence however I will be sure to include several examples in the way you put of how I've not managed to cope with change regardless of if it was expected or unexpected in the past (before they made their decision) and examples of the past in which ways social engagement has caused me extreme distress and how I've not been able to cope with any form of social engagement. (Cut myself off from friends and family, not been outside as I suffer from intense anxiety to be around people even if I know them such as family).

    I do plan on including several examples to address these points before the DWP made their decision however the DWP's main point against why I may suffer from this is that I was able to meet up with an unfamiliar doctor at my GP when I had to get a fit note and I wanted to include a note to the appeal that this was only due to the obligation for Universal Credit to avoid having to be found fit to find work (This would be a much more substantial risk to my health if I was found fit for work) I wanted to clarify that I have not been able to visit a GP prior for my back pain or any serious medical issues that were affecting me because of my anxiety (I've shown evidence of medical issues that affect me still that I haven't been able to resolve). During the time they asked me to provide fit notes I also only disclosed my back pain to my GP for the sake of the fit note and wasn't able to seek professional help for my social anxiety or depression due to the nature of the condition making it extremely stressful to disclose especially in a face-to-face or even phone appointment even with a medical professional. This would all have been prior to the final decision by the DWP still and I just wanted to include that point as besides the GP visit for the fit note I have not been able to engage in any social situation with unfamiliar people or even familiar people thus me explaining that I haven't left my home and don't speak to family or friends and haven't for years.

    I understand you said the tribunal is already aware a lot of the assessment reports are flawed, I appreciate that bit of assurance as I was afraid and paranoid that I would have to overly argue it in some way. I just wanted to include that on top of my regular evidence of situations in real life in the past have and prior to the decision being made contribute to me not being able to cope with change due to the point of my daily life being affected and not being able to take part in any social engagement due to the severe distress caused. Just to cover all bases really as that GP visit for my fit note for UC is the only time I've ever actually been in social contact and outside to speak to anyone familiar or not in years. The only other person outside of the DWP for UC I've had any contact with would be my dad who I live with and still don't speak to regularly. And despite me still going it was only under an obligation for UC and it still caused extreme stress and panic attacks and just made my daily life around the appointment severally difficult, and I don't think they were taking into the account the effect it had even if I went.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
    edited November 2022
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    I was also just troubled by the fact that the descriptor around social engagement is written as "Engagement in social contact is always impossible due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual" with the keyword being always what made me paranoid about the evidence. (Coping with change also mentions the word "any") as that's why I was arguing the DWP's decision since I went to the GP for a sick note the one time for the sake of my WCA. So, I still wanted to argue that I only was able to visit the GP for the sick note due to the obligation by the DWP and have never been prior to resolve my health issues because of my anxiety making it impossible. And also argue how despite still going the one time I still suffered from this change causing a massive disturbance in my daily life not being able to sleep properly, having constant panic attacks about the appointment, not being able to properly look after myself as I can't concentrate on anything even preparing a proper meal or showering and such. This was all of course prior to their decision that I'm appealing to the tribunal since it's what they took into account for the decision.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    Part of what the DWP also argued is that it's assumed that I would have received professional medical help in regard to my condition and are using the fact that I haven't as evidence. I've explained that I'm not able to communicate my issues comfortably and can't engage in visits with my GP to seek help as my anxiety prevents me from doing so. 

    I have recently been told I will need to get a new fit note, in regards, to my social anxiety, general anxiety and depression. (Something that is terrifying me, I have to do in the next week and a half and it's been hazardous on my health) When I have to speak to a doctor to get a fit note, could I use this as evidence for my case as a medical professional pointing out I can't work due to my mental health issues or because it would be evidence from after the DWP's decision date would it be not allowed?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,287 Championing
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    You still seem to be focusing on what DWP said but you shouldn't continue to focus on that. The fit note will not be classed as evidence that you have LCWRA.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
    edited November 2022
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    Sorry, think I'm just panicking because of it all. I thought so (in regard to the doctor's note thing) it's just something the DWP used also against me as I hadn't gotten professional help for my anxiety or depression when I can't seek it out because of the nature of it. (I understand though now not to focus on what they've said) Luckily, I emailed on old friend for help, he said he'd be able to write up a statement to mention how especially since my last job I've socially distanced myself from people and basically avoided communication with family and friends. I was worried he wouldn't be willing to help but I think it will be a big help in my case at least for that point.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,287 Championing
    edited November 2022
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    Sorry, think I'm just panicking because of it all. I thought so (in regard to the doctor's note thing) it's just something the DWP used also against me as I hadn't gotten professional help for my anxiety or depression
    That's one of the classic copy and paste reasons.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    One of the reasons the DWP usually give? Tbh that's a relief in a weird way. From their decision I really took a lot of their response I think too whole heartedly, even though it seemed incredibly unfair like making me get a fit note to get a WCA but then using that as evidence against me, but I was still pretty naive about how seriously they would take into account everything. I struggled talking to them even about my issues as even with my video assessment I wasn't really asked much on them and how it's affected me (Felt like they were just speeding through a checklist) and so I just thought the mental health aspect wouldn't be taken into account really for the WCA. I understand the entire point of the appeal would be that the DWP would make mistakes I just was a bit naive about it still and paranoid none of it was relevant to the case even because of my anxiety, I think.
  • ResilientNeighbour7
    ResilientNeighbour7 Posts: 198 Connected
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    Hi Brandon,

    I hope you are doing better and getting more support but if not please don’t give up hope.
    I know I can’t help much with words but having read your post I just wanted to add my thoughts that I think you’re a very strong person and that I empathise with being ill treated by the DWP and other government organisations. Please don’t give up your life and please keep seeking support. You’re very young, and things can get much better. You’re just going through a lot at the moment and it is understandably having a toll. I’m glad like me you have this community to support you. 
    You’ve inspired me to appeal against the unawarded PIP.
    I have faith that you will find a solution. 
    It’s always the strongest of us who seems to be tested the most! 
    I have already requested a new form  to fill in and waiting for its arrival. but I still need to complain about the last result in which they scored zero! 
    I can also empathise with having no one to support me with the important stuff but I am trying my best to support myself and sometimes we have to .
    The pains sound terrible and overwhelming and I hope you will find an effective treatment soon!
    Never give up. We can all overcome any adversity.
    Take care! 
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    Hi, thanks for your support hope your appeal goes well and yeah hopefully if my hearing is soon and gets resolved as I'm hoping I can start focusing on getting better.

    Poppy, you mentioned that it's a lower chance to do a paper hearing and I'd be better off asking for a video call or audio or going in person. Do you know if these other options vary in success or would they all be perfectly fine I ask because I initially said I couldn't go because of my anxiety, and because they asked, I didn't think it would affect me much not going. I know it's going to be extremely stressful, but I could seek to do an audio or video call. Do these typically have a lower chance of success though than the in-person hearing?
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Community member Posts: 57,287 Championing
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    Phone, Video and face to face all have the same success rate.
    I would appreciate it if members wouldn't tag me please. I have all notifcations turned off and wouldn't want a member thinking i'm being rude by not replying.
    If i see a question that i know the answer to i will try my best to help.
  • wizboque
    wizboque Community member Posts: 24 Connected
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    Sorry, think I'm just panicking because of it all. I thought so (in regard to the doctor's note thing) it's just something the DWP used also against me as I hadn't gotten professional help for my anxiety or depression
    That's one of the classic copy and paste reasons.
    I feel you there. I've been through a LOT in the past few years but have been struggling to get a therapist. I've witnessed a murder, (my partner) lost a child to stillbirth, a good friend of mine/roommate ended his life, we had our house broken into and my partner's car engine cut out at 90mph on the motorway and we started veering left across 3 lanes of traffic, amongst other things.

    I was told by the crisis team that I've not been through enough trauma apparently. Local therapy services don't want to take on my mind as a whole so they try to delegate to others and then they rule me out for some reason or another.

    Whether it is something along the lines of because you lost someone you need bereavement counselling but bereavement counselling says that I need an occupational therapist because there's too much for me to unpack, then I get told that because I'm autistic that despite high anxiety and depression results on their questionnaires, they do not believe I am suitable for the service because they do CBT and they do not think it will work with me.

    I guess what I'm getting at is, it's incredibly hard to actually get support in place for your mental health, especially if you're struggling with anxiety and/or depression because it makes attending appointments so much harder. The DWP should really factor that in but they don't (on paper).

    If you've TRIED to get help but have been unsuccessful for whatever reason, that's something you can tell the tribunal. I think they want to see you helping yourself as much as you can, even if it's a string of missed appointments.

    They asked me about therapy and I said that I've been screaming for it (which I have been) and they seemed to respond very well to that. My situation is obviously different from yours and I speak to my GP and the mental health practitioner on a semi-regular basis.
  • brandon1999
    brandon1999 Community member Posts: 23 Listener
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    Thank you for the responses, I'm sorry to hear wizboque about your situation. As you've said our situation is very different really, I haven't been able to get help because mentally I can't get myself to sort out appointments, or even attend and keep them up regularly. I've had multiple issues going on even besides mental health issues that have persisted because I just find it too difficult to even speak to a doctor. The one time I did (as I mentioned the GP visit for a fit note for back pain) I was freaking out for days prior to the appointment when I was told to get one and everything mentally just felt like was being turned to 11 in terms of anxiety. Even after that appointment was done, I couldn't do anything when I got home just in bed scratching myself and punching the wall. (Completely felt overwhelmed and when this happens, I usually do stuff like this to try and control the stress) And especially during that appointment it was just about back pain and felt like she was constantly judging me, couldn't stand it just wanted to get it over with and get home.

    I understand they may want to see me try to get better (This is why during the video assessment I had with the DWP I mentioned preparing proper meals and such) Explained in my tribunal appeal that in actuality it's a lot less I'm able to do. Anything I try to do just feels pointless and I get easily frustrated with anyway whenever I try and start and just get fed up and end up feeling more worthless because of it, just feels like a constant cycle that gets worse. I understand they may want to see me trying to better my situation but I'm hoping at least they can understand my points that it's my condition in itself as it applies to their descriptors making it impossible. Hopefully if the hearing goes well and I get placed in the LCWRA group I can have just some space to work things out for myself.


    BTW Poppy you mentioned how the structure my evidence to the tribunal with real life examples. This has been incredibly helpful especially in regard to situations I can explain where I've not been able to cope with a change to my daily life. This may just be me being pedantic but for the activity about precluding social engagement due to the distress it causes. Examples I've put down are me not being able to go to a GP properly (outside of an obligation) to address my health issues, includes my mental health but I've also mentioned physical issues like my back pain and others and also sent in photo evidence to the tribunal of these physical things I haven't been able to sort out because of my anxiety and depression. (I'm hoping the photo evidence of the physical symptoms will help make my point here stronger) Would something like this be applicable as a form of anecdotal evidence? I'm asking because it isn't an example of me actively trying to do something in accordance with that activity but being stopped because of my condition, it's something I'm precluded from doing because of my condition. I think I'm just being pedantic is all but wanted to be sure.

    One of my real-life examples of social engagement has been about basically not being in contact with anyone family or friends, especially since my last job. (Due to it making my condition worse) Cutting off contact really. I emailed a friend to see if he could help support my issue and thankfully, he said he'd be able to write up a statement in support of this. Basically, to back up my statement that I've not been able to meet up with him face-to-face (only friend) and have barely remained in contact. (Had to send him an email to ask for the support). I basically haven't been able to meet up with anyone including him since my first job which was a few years ago, and since then have barely had any contact with him at most just a random message on something like this email now and again or him asking to set something up. I was wondering if this as evidence would be applicable because while I've not been able to meet up with him still at the time of the WCA decision the actual evidence of him supporting my claim of cutting off contact with family and friends would have happened long before the WCA decision. I can clarify during the WCA I still hadn't gotten in contact with anyone so I was hoping this would still be applicable.
If we become concerned about you or anyone else while using one of our services, we will act in line with our safeguarding policy and procedures. This may involve sharing this information with relevant authorities to ensure we comply with our policies and legal obligations.

Find out how to let us know if you're concerned about another member's safety.