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Thread: ESA for epilepsy?

  1. #1
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    ESA for epilepsy?

    My friend has asked me to go with her for her ESA assessment on Friday. She has severe epilepsy, having fits at least twice a week and has obvious memory problems and confusion as a result of frequent fits for over 30 years. The fits lead to incontinence, serious biting of the inside of her mouth and leaves her feeling exhausted and even more confused for a few hours after. She doesn't seem to know what benefits she gets, but it does sound like she's getting DLA as well a ESA and housing benefit. I've just had a look at the ESA scoring and it looks like she should score highly on her regular fits, but I wondered whether she may also score on continence and cognitive impairment as well. One of the things which trigger her fits is any kind of stress, so I haven't said much about the importance of the assessment as I don't want her to worry, as I really don't think she has a clue what it's all about. I'm just hoping it's obvious to the assessor that she has cognitive impairment, for example she can read but her brain doesn't always take in the information and she constantly forgets simple words and instructions. I want to be able to support her as best I can and wondered if anyone else had experience of ESA assessments for this kind of condition.

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    dwp say incontinence must be while awake, so if its during a seizure its going to be hard to get points for, but there is no harm explaining it anyway and hope for the best.

  3. #3
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    If she is having fits twice a week then she should qualify for ESA WRAG on that basis alone, (and maybe also Support Group if regulation 35 could be said to apply).

    LCW Descriptor 11(a) of the Work Capability Assessment gives 15 points for:
    At least once a week, has an involuntary
    episode of lost or altered consciousness,
    resulting in significantly disrupted
    awareness or concentration.
    15 points qualify you for ESA WRAG.

    This is the descriptor (the only one) under which I qualify for ESA WRAG.

    If your friend gets no warning 'arua' of her fits then she should further qualify for support group under regulation 35(2)(b) which I won't quote here, but is regarding risk of harm if found capable of work related activities.
    ESA reg 35

    As slipmaster notes the DWP says incontinence must be while awake.
    This is not strictly correct, but is the DWPs interpretation of the actual wording which is
    Continence other than enuresis (bed wetting)...
    As far as I know this interpretation by the DWP has never been challenged.
    It is possible that a seizure would cause incontinence whilst unconcious, hardly 'bed wetting', but the seizures themselves usually qualify for the ESA so the 'being awake' interpretation goes unchallenged.
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    Thanks, I think she's probably already in support group as she says she's never had to do work focused activities (though it's possible she has and can't remember). She doesn't usually get any warning that a fit is coming and sometimes has them in her sleep, so I really hope she gets put in SG and left alone. She's very vulnerable and would really struggle to cope with any hassle from the DWP!

  5. #5
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    Your friend should definitely get into the work related activity group ESA. I think it is 1 seizure per week for 15 points. By all accounts it is extremely difficult to get into the support group for epilepsy now. Apparently there are new rules regarding this. I have spoken to lots of people at the job centre etc regarding this and apparently this is the case. I myself have up to 50 seizures per day and was put into WRAG and was told to prepare for work. I wrote a a strongly worded letter basically asking them if they were crazy and was put into the support group. But I think you can see what I am getting at. Your friend would almost certainly get in WRAG, but would face one hell of a fight to get into the support group. But that's just my experience. Best of luck.

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    50 seizures a day and they expect you to work -what planet are they on!!! Well she had the assessment, the guy said he was a nurse and seemed quite approachable, but didn't seem at all interested in the fact that her memory and concentration are so badly affected by her condition and just seemed more interested in her routine - does she have hobbies, does she cook and do housework etc. She told him she tries to do chores when she's feeling okay, same with hobbies etc, but that some days it's too much effort to shower and get dressed so she doesn't bother if she's not going out. She told him she goes shopping on the bus maybe once a week, which I thought would probably be used as an excuse to say she didn't qualify, so I was quick to point out that she can only do that on her own because it's a familiar bus going to a place she knows well, but if she were to try and get on an unfamiliar bus to go somewhere different she would soon get confused and stressed out. She did mention a couple of times she'd gone out on her own and forgotten where she was, and I think he made a note of that. I explained that if she has to go anywhere else, either me or hubby or her brother takes her and for hospital appointments she has outpatient transport. I also made sure the guy was aware that social services had done major adaptions to her bathroom, fitting a shower wet room to avoid any risk of seizures in the bath. She told him she was having four or five fits a week and that she has no warning, and that it can take hours for her to come round properly. I reminded her about the other week when she burnt something in the oven while coming round from a fit, as she'd forgotten she was cooking something. She was very vague about her medication and told him she had to have an alarm set on her phone otherwise she forgets, but she had taken a list with her so he could see what she is taking. I'm just hoping her attempts at getting on with things and trying to do stuff when she can isn't held against her and she doesn't get any more hassle!

  7. #7
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    By all accounts it is extremely difficult to get into the support group for epilepsy now. Apparently there are new rules regarding this.
    I came across these 'new rules' the other day in the "Revised Work Capability Handbook" version 7, 9 February 2015.

    This is a DWP guide for the assessors, which basically is the DWP telling assessors how they want them to apply the regulations.

    It does not change the regulations at all, just says how the DWP wants them to be interpreted.

    Of course the DWP are not the courts, which is so many of their decisions get overturned when challenged at tribunal.

    The tribunal applies what the law says, not what the DWP thinks it should say.

    EDIT
    Link to that guide:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/public...-professionals
    Last edited by nukecad; 04-09-15 at 20:57.
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  8. #8
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    When I was made to go to the job centre and the work program for a couple of weeks the women there said they both had people in to talk to them about epilepsy. They said that they were going to be a lot more stricter on epilepsy. Also, when I rang up to say I wanted to do a mandatory reconsideration, the lady wouldn't let me because she said I was wasting my time. I then rang back to insist that I really wanted to put in a mandatory reconsideration and again she told me it was pointless and just kept on going on about how the WRAG wouldn't make me job search. She also said that she would not allow me to put in for a reconsideration unless I sent in extra evidence so I gave up. Then after going to one of the work related classes and having a few seizures there and them having to constantly having to empty the room full of people whilst it happened, as well as the humiliation, I thought sod this women. I wrote a letter insisting I get put in support group and that I would not supply any more evidence as a consultant and gp letter stating exactly my medical condition is as good as it gets. Well to cut a long story short I got put in support group, but had to fight like mad to get in it. It seems crazy I had to fight like mad for ESA, then a few weeks later the assessor and decision maker for pip where amazing. Sorry if that's just a big wall of txt, I should split my writing up to make it easier to read lol.

  9. #9
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    She also said that she would not allow me to put in for a reconsideration unless I sent in extra evidence so I gave up.
    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

    You have a legal right to ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration. (and appeal to the First tier Tribunal if necessary).

    Thats why its called mandatory.

    It is not up to some DWP drone to decide whether you can or not.

    Glad you stood up for yourself and eventualy got the result you deserved.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Nukecad. If it wasn't for my family pushing me then I probably wouldn't have appealed the decision. i don't know what it is about ESA, but each time I have applied for it everybody from the people at DWP down to the assessors have been horrible. Yet my experience with PIP was completely different. The people I spoke to at DWP were lovely, and the ATOS assessor was amazing. Also the tribunal people I had a few years back when I first applied for ESA were great too. They called me into the room and said I had won and was in support group before I even had to go through my case. I was told it could last an hour, it lasted a couple of minutes. That just proved to me that tribunals go on facts, where as the DWP are just trying to get as many people off benefits as possible. I guess if 1 in 10 for eg decide not to appeal, then that's 1 more person off benefits.

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