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Thread: ESA Anxiety & stress

  1. #1

    Unhappy ESA Anxiety & stress

    Hello Everyone
    Ive just joined begging for advice!
    Ill try to give you a brief history. Im 42, female, Im agoraphobic. I have been for over 20 years. I go outside once or twice a week, but never alone, and ALWAYS with my safe person (a friend)

    Because of this reason I have be having income support with sickness benefit no DLA. Over the years, I was having home medicals, when the benefit required a review. Physically I am mobile, but mentally I am not.

    In June 2012 I was requested to attend a medical. This terrified me, so I asked my GP to write a letter for a home visit. She did, but they (ATOS) refused. 3 more attempts, 3 more replies from ATOS saying 'we think you dont qualify for a home visit', and was warned I must attend.

    That day of medical I attended with my safe person, hugely drugged on Valium, almost asleep.
    The Dr examiner was extremely worried and demanded I has psychiatric support asap.

    This morning, I had my letter of the medical result. They said on the letter "you are required to attend a workshop to be in receipt of benefit to get you back to work called ESA" etc etc.

    This is impossible for me to do. This is the equivalent of a wheelchair bound person to be expected to jump out of their chair, and just walk, wherever. Im crying in fear.

    I feel destroyed. Im very frightened. My first thought was suicide.. sorry to say this... Its what this sickness benefit transfer to ESA has done to me.

    I dont know what to do. If I appeal, what will happen if I lose? Or win? Will I go back to sickness benefit as before?
    All I can see now is months of hell and more interviews outdoors, more overdoses of valium to get me there - but what for? No one seems to listen or care at the DSS.

    If there is one person on this earth who wants to be normal - its me... Yet, my panic attacks rule my life and when severely stressed, depression. I also have bulimia when I need a stress release. The Medical people know all this, yet think Im well enough for work.

    I have no psychiatrist or support or family. Just 2 friends.

    I hope I can find a shoulder to cry on here. Thank you for reading xx

  2. #2
    Senior Member RaeUK's Avatar
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    Hi AnxiousOne. Like yourself, I'm just wandering through these hallowed halls looking for a little like minded info.

    I'm a little confused. Nothing extraordinary there to be honest, normal state of affairs. And, let's be upfront here, it's not uncommon to miss off half the important stuff in a first post due to our need and desire for help. I can understand your mental state, I can understand the hassles with ATOSH - ain't that the norm? - but what I can't understand is going from having the Work Capability Assessment (it ain't no medical!) to 'This morning, I had my letter of the medical result. They said on the letter "you are required to attend a workshop to be in receipt of benefit to get you back to work called ESA" etc etc.' I don't recognise this in relation to my dealings with trying to claim ESA. Obviously, times change, maybe it's some new thing, some new terminology. Any chance you can scan the letter - blanking out personal details? (Not sure if that's something this site can handle tbf)
    How many points did the WCA award you? (That'll help my understanding) also are you placed in WRAG? What exactly do you want to appeal against?
    You say you have no interface with any community assistance or a Mental Health Team. But your GP seems to be supportive. Can't you push your GP for a little more help? It'd probably be useful.
    Sorry for all the questions. In my ignorance, I'm just trying to understand.
    Best wishes.

  3. #3
    Thanks for your reply
    Its nice to know someones there

    It looks like my income support and sickness benefit has been replaced to a benefit called ESA
    the income hasnt reduced, but the policy seems to have

    they say
    "you have been placed in a work related activity group, you must take part in work focused interviews with an advisor to get the ESA in full. objective reasonable steps towards work. You must attend"

    this is all outdoors. This is not possible for me.
    I dont know what to do next. I am not able to get outside to get to these interviews and work. If I could, I would be working!

    What will happen if I ignore these appointments? this is whats worrying me. Ignorance is not the best thing BUT they are being ignorant for putting me in this situation.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RaeUK's Avatar
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    Ah, righty-ho, thanks for your reply I understand things a little better.
    ESA is a completely different animal to ye olde IS or IB. They've changed the rules. Big time. Please remember that what I describe is the world according to Rae. Others may have different interpretations and hopefully others will jump in and advise. Although, tbh, this is quite a quiet forum from what I've seen.
    First and foremost, you don't have a choice in benefits. ESA, I'm afraid, is our bright new world. You've had your WCA and scored at least 15 points to be put into WRAG. The bad news is, that's a major triumph. A lot of us going through the ESA mill score less than 15 points and have to go through the rigmarole many many times. So, pat on the back there. The further bad news is that the WRAG is increasingly being made to look like JSA. Ew! Yep, you're sort of fit for work in a strange sort of way. From what I can gather, ESA is worked out - excusing the arbitrary points system - on prognosis. WRAG is for those who might be deemed capable of work at some moderately close point in the future, and the Support group for those further away from being able to go into full time work. That's how the powers that be see it. If you get a copy of your ATOSH 'medical' report - they usually send a mini version out but there is a numpteen page maxi version but you need to ask for that - somewhere amidst the computer generated gobbledegook you'll find a sentence along the lines of 'should be able to go back to work in 3 months (or 6 months etc, you get the picture) that's what cements the whole shebang together.
    You mention appeal and I presume that has to be from WRAG to Support. Do keep in mind that there is a completely different criteria for the Support Group.
    You asked what would happen if you ignore their requests for appointments. Simply put, they will cut the money you are entitled to. Yep. That's right. They will reduce the minimum amount of money that they have determined that you need in order to survive. I've never quite been able to figure out the logic in that. At the moment, WRAG attracts a premium of £28.15 on top of your basic ESA of £71. That is what they will take away. It is proposed, however, in the future that the sanction will take away the £71 leaving you just £28.15.

  5. #5
    Senior Member RaeUK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnxiousOne View Post
    ... BUT they are being ignorant for putting me in this situation.
    Sorry to post again but I wanted to pick you up on this sentence as it actually encapsulates the fundamental change in how sickness / disability benefits are seen. Up until the introduction of ESA you could tell the state you were poorly. The state would say ok I'll look after you. Now the state is saying excuse me? You are unwell? Prove to me you cannot work. Prove to me you are unable to contribute in any way. Prove to me ... et al. You get the picture. The onus now is on you, the sick, the infirm, the disabled, to prove to the state that you need their help. Prove it and we'll help you. That is a complete flipping of the coin. I cannot say if that is a bad thing or a good thing. Only that things have changed ...

  6. #6
    Thank you Rae ... you have quite literally saved my life

    I have read that I should appeal to go from WRAG into support group. I am deffo not fit to work, so how do I do this appeal? xx
    Last edited by AnxiousOne; 09-14-2012 at 12:06 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member RaeUK's Avatar
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    WCA is the Work Capability Assessment. That's the ATOSH assesment you had. Many people mistakenly think it's a 'medical'. It's not. ATOSH and the DWP would like people to continue thinking it is and they use terms like 'Health Care Professional' etc and dress in white coats sporting a stethoscope. But the lie is in the name. It's an assessment to see what work you are capable of. Any work at all.
    Damn! I sound like some wild bearded leftie. You'd never believe I've voted Conservative all of my life. *hangs head in shame* ...

  8. #8
    Hey Rae.. Ive voted blue all my life also

  9. #9
    Senior Member RaeUK's Avatar
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    And don't we end up feeling blue?

  10. #10
    Anxiousone,
    When you got your decision letter there should be an explanation in there of how to appeal the decision. You normally have four weeks to put the appeal in, most folk phone and ask for the appeal form to be sent out to you, some write and request it, you can also visit the DWP web site for advice.
    You are appealing at being put in wrag as you feel you should be in the support group. You can either ask for a reconsideration or just go straight to the appeal stage.
    It is not enough to say you disagree, you have to give grounds and evidence to back you up. At this point it seems you only have your GP, so go to them and explain. Also you need help in filling in forms and advice on how to get more evidence to back up your claim.
    I realise this may be difficult given your situation regarding leaving the house.
    You must remember that ESA is about how your illness affects your ability to do things NOT about your illness.
    If you could get help from CAB or similar would be good, otherwise there are other sites which offer info some of which is free, others sadly charge a subscription fee.
    Get your appeal in asap

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