My tribunal experience — Scope | Disability forum

My tribunal experience

LimpyNads
LimpyNads Member Posts: 1 Listener

Nadine was surprised when the results of her Work Capability Assessment came through. She’d read lots of horror stories online but figured it couldn’t always be that bad and assumed her case was pretty ‘open and shut’. Instead she was found fit for work.

I was born with Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) and despite treatment from a young age, my hips and pelvis never properly aligned, and I’ve walked using sticks or crutches for most of my adult life. I also have two different heart arrythmias and six years ago was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. My mobility is terrible. My hip or knee will both regularly give way beneath me and I’ve fallen in the road so many times I’ve broken my leg, wrist, arm and my collar bone (thankfully not all at once!) Despite that, I’d worked from the day I left school and was absolutely gutted when HR pulled me aside a few years ago and told me they wanted me to go for an occupational health assessment. Fast forward a few months and I’m on the scrap heap. Physically unable to work but still feeling like I have so much more to contribute.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t fit to work there anymore. I spent much of the working day on the staff room floor, trying to control attacks of Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or Atrial Fibrillation. I shouldn’t have been there and every time I ignored my body I’d get dizzy, sometimes faint and end up back in hospital. My record (probably not soon to be broken!) was passing out 3 times in a single week at work — not good if you’re working with vulnerable adults and trying to provide care for them.

The medication I was taking for Fibromyalgia was making me very tired. My hip problems and general mobility, aggravated by my falls, had declined to the point that even standing was becoming a problem. To cut a long and probably familiar story short, I ended up needing to claim Universal Credit and despite my initial reservation it all went smoothly. My work coach was great, accepted my fit notes and didn’t require me to work (which isn’t always the case) and as soon it was time, sent me for a Work Capability Assessment.

Although somewhat demeaning, the assessment was fine and I went away certain I’d at least be placed in the ‘limited capability’ group. When I received my decision 6 weeks later that was not the case, despite an independent occupational health assessment deeming me unfit for work, the DWP WCA found me to be fit. I immediately knew I would appeal. With help I compiled evidence and supporting letters from my GP, physiotherapist, cardiologist and the nurse from my pain clinic and sent them off feeling certain the decision would be changed at Mandatory Reconsideration (MR). It wasn’t.


I’m lucky enough that I had a friend who works as a benefit advisor supporting me through the whole process, but it didn’t make it any less terrifying. When the appeal bundle came through from the DWP I thought more than once about giving up, but every time I re-read the report and read the inconsistencies (they’d messed up my gender on multiple occasions and made no mention of my heart problems or Fibromyalgia just to name a few discrepancies) it hardened my resolve.

It’s a daunting process and made all the worse by the long wait to be heard. For me it was just 8 months, but others wait much longer. In the meantime, I was being pressured by the Job Centre to return to work and to stop handing in fit notes, but I remained determined. I had no other evidence to send so resubmitted the same things I’d sent for my MR with a letter from a friend detailing my struggles.

When my appeal date came, I was so nervous. I’d had nightmares for weeks about courtrooms and scary people in wigs and considered not going at all. I’d given up hope of being awarded at this point and was mainly fighting now out of principle.

The actual tribunal was nothing like I’d imagined. The DWP didn’t bother to send someone so it was just me, my friend and two other people in a normal room. The judge spoke briefly, introduced the doctor and then they asked me a few questions about my conditions. I answered honestly, even explaining that some days I can mobilise more than others, that I’d attended today without much problem, but tomorrow I could be stuck in bed and unable to walk through pain. I explained the effects of my medication and what it’s like when in SVT or Afib and how often they occur. They thanked me for my time and said they’d send me the results by post. I’d read online most people find out on the day, so I left assuming the worst. Just one short week later the decision arrived, and I’m really pleased (and a little bit sad) to say I was found unfit for work and work-related activities (LCWRA)! Finally!

I don’t feel I ever should have had to go to a tribunal, but in hindsight it wasn’t as scary as I’d thought and not getting a decision on the day doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be bad. Now I’m waiting for my first PIP assessment. Wish me luck!

What was your experience of your tribunal? Was it as bad as you’d anticipated?

If you feel like you need some advice or information about benefits, check out our resources here.

Comments

  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    We also had to go to tribunal. I explained why my son was disabled and answered questions honestly. It was a little frustrating because I had taken the time to properly fill out a lengthy depressing claim form plus give lots of evidence as well. If they had read my form properly then the tribunal would not be necessary at all. Several weeks later, the money has been awarded and a good decision made eventually. 
  • zakblood
    zakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    thanks for the story LimpyNads , seems everyone's again in the same boat, and that part makes me sad, as while one set of Doctors work for you, seems another set work for money and the DWP and in no way work for anyone other than there own interests and that of the DWP,

    20 years in the system has taught me, it matters little if your honest or not, the system is there to break you, hurt you and make you feel like it's your fault and over this time for me in the system, it's gotten worst, much worse, had 5 assessments now, passed 3 failed 2 and been to Tribunal once back in 2012 and now back again sometime in 2020, so passed 3 times, and had it over turned at Tribunal once, and now there again, seems they don't learn, or listen and in now way can read, the cost of all this much be higher than what the have gained by not paying and in all cases kicking the person off, i've not had a bean off them since April 14th this year and while i'm now in Tribunal waiting a date, they have taken my case, had a letter stating i'm going to get the £73.10 any time soon, as long as i'm alive and back dated to the date they kicked me off after failing, well turning up and like you got my sex wrong, as referred in a official document as male and female on more than a few occasions, all my tablets wrong, after sending in 80 plus pages of notes and a bullet point first page noting them all plus my main conditions at the time, all with MRI and scans dated and paged numbered as referenced, which i've now been told wasn't read and wasn't needed,. as they don't have to read or take into account and documents supplied, have it in writing and email form, so could have same me self some time and effort and just turned up with nothing, and got the same outcome,

    was smartly dressed, so implies a ability to look after themselves.

    didn't dribble and was awake and able to reply to questions, and didn't hit anyone, so implies a mental ability to control and communicate. 

    was seen talking in the interview waiting room, yes i met a old school friend, didn't know that wasn't allowed.

    walked into the room unaided and made my own way from the car park, so able to get around.

    can pick paper work up from desk with both hands, so it seems a frozen shoulder means 4 pieces of paper are beyond what i should be able to hold and grab.

    medication is over the counter, lol, liked this as they went on to name them and write the doses and get them all wrong, seems Tramadol and others are now on the selves at Tesco it seems, got to love the Nurse who did me, seems 1MG of Tramadol is also a known doses while i'm on 100mg, seems she can't tell if i'm a man or a woman and forgets 2 zero's, thank god she's not a nurse who hands out tablets in hospital.

    to name just a few in this on the error part, with some other errors being rather private, like the Nurse putting on the report i have issues with my family etc, which is where she crossed a line, as has mixed me up with someone else completely as i have no issues what so ever and have a fantastic and supportive family and friends and never have once had any issues with any of them, so have no idea on how she can make up such lie's and then have the affront to say it's a factual report.

    kind of reminds me on my last one i failed, which also had some glaring factual errors, i refused and always have any form of medical on the day, there not my doctors and as i have no idea on who they are or what skills they have in that department i use my rights to refuse, then back in 2012 a Doctor wrote i refused a exam and then turned over the page and wrote notes on what i could and couldn't do which at Tribunal they over turned as he had already wrote i refused the medical so where did he get the information from?

    point one to me, then went on to write how long i was in the medical for, which again i had a exit ticket with a date on which also stated half an hour difference, so it seemed not only did he lie on what i could or couldn't do, he also stated in a factual report i was being assessed when i had a exit ticket saying i was across the road and in a car park 10 mins away going threw a barrier which printed the time of exit on the ticket, which i luckily kept lol.

    so 2 points to me and got my incapacity back, which later changed to ESA.

    which now i've failed, so past 2, failed one, then had a recorded interview and past it, now the last one failed, and have 3 letters and official forms of proof that i again asked for it to be recorded only to be told on the day and after the event that i hadn't asked, even though i had the proof on the day and 2 months on advanced in writing, which was had delivered and signed received and dated by the test center and by email receipt confirmed received, the nurse on the day said and i quote failing to attended now when i asked when the exam started, as i said where is the recording equipment as asked, that if i didn't go ahead, it would go against me and count as a failed to attend, so another lie on her part, it gets worse and goes on and on.

    so feel for you and everyone in the same boat, paddling a boat with only one paddle, just going around in circles 

Brightness