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Thread: ESA Helpline

  1. #11
    I did receive a new housing benefit award letter from my local council this morning showing reason of ESA so I'm presuming I'm still on it

  2. #12
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saxmoof View Post
    Could you point me to the regs showing that ESA awards can’t be decreased following a phone assessment? This is the first I’m hearing of it and can’t find it anywhere,
    It's not legislation it's internal guidance from the DWP to CHDA.

    There is a link to the guidance and a highlighted quote from it in this post:
    https://www.youreable.com/forums/sho...l=1#post173125
    That guidance has been updated, see post #21 in this thread.

    The situation with FTAs is less clear, if you scroll down to post #17 in the link above you'll see what I mean.
    They hadn't 'relaxed the rules', (although they'd like you to think they had), it was a court ruling that meant that stopping ESA for a FTA or FTP was unlawful.
    The have changed the invitation letters now so legally then can now prosecute FTAs again, but I've not heard of them doing so.
    They only changed the letter that 'invites' someone for a telephone assessment on the 2nd November though, so it's still early days on that.
    Last edited by nukecad; 16-11-20 at 19:33.
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  3. #13
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    This is quite interesting, I haven’t seen this. The no fit for work decisions being made part is very clear, and I wasn’t aware of this... I’m not sure this shows that a review of an existing LCWRA entitlement can’t be downgraded though, or am I misunderstanding something? I found the section further on in the info you linked with the drop down menu options for describing claimants demeanour/capability very interesting - now I know why ESA/UC85s all sound so similar! I mean I sort of knew it was like this but something just feels off seeing how crude it all is, all the complexities and variability of a persons condition reduced to box ticking based on a small snapshot of a person.

    I wonder, is there similar guidance to PIP assessment providers from DWP that you’ve come across? I’d be very interested in seeing if it’s similar, for example if they’re avoiding advising on stopping a claimants award completely due to the limitations of phone assessments.

    I do actually remember reading about the FTA tribunal decision, seems like I’ve fallen for some DWP PR as I didn’t realise there was a connection - will have to get more cynical, if possible.

  4. #14
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saxmoof View Post
    I’m not sure this shows that a review of an existing LCWRA entitlement can’t be downgraded though, or am I misunderstanding something?
    Its the first line of the quoted principles:
    This assessment is undertaken in order to advise on LCWRA. The outcome will therefore be LCWRA Yes with justification or LCWRA No with justification. There is no requirement to advise on LCW criteria.
    They are not doing any LCW, they are only looking at LCWRA - Yes or No.
    LCWRA Yes = Support Group again with a new prognosis date.
    LCWRA No = Stay as you are and wait until we can do F2Fs again.

    The last line of the quote reinforces it:
    Cases where the outcome is LCWRA No MUST NOT be entered on LiMA ...
    ie. The DWP only want to know about awarding LCWRA, nothing else.

    TBH it's realy just a cosmetic excercise so that they can say they are doing something, and keep some assesors in work.

    I haven't seem similar guidance for PIP telephone assessments.
    But PIP is different because, unlike ESA which is ongoing, an award of PIP has a set end date.
    Because of that end date every PIP 'renewal' is actually a new claim.

    At the moment they are extending those end dates for existing awards, they had to pass a new law to do that, but they are doing assessments for new PIP claims and have now started doing some PIP 'renewal' assessments.
    People are getting PIP2s and AR1s for renewals, and are having telephone assessments.

    It has been noted by the DWP that PIP award recommendations are tending to be lower with phone assessments than would be expected with a F2F assessment.
    I believe that the DWP Decision Makers have been told to bear that in mind when making awards, and if they feel it's justified then give more than the assessors reccommendations.
    The DWP are being very careful about that; the last thing they want is a sudden rash of appeals saying that the PIP phone assessments are flawed and the award would have been higher with a F2F assessment.
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  5. #15
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    Ok, you’ve cleared up my misunderstanding, I’d interpreted the third point as being possibly applicable to existing claims since existing claims aren’t specifically mentioned - but if the LCWRA no’s are being put to one side and not copied onto LiMA then this can’t happen. I do wonder how long this will last though, surely if by 2027 we’re in COVID wave #17 and still unable to do F2F assessments decisions will have to be made. Total speculation but I’m imagining a scenario where they realise F2F won’t be possible for the foreseeable future, open up the shared drive the “LCWRA no’s” are being stored in and start dropping the hammer on claimants who have long since assumed they’d passed the WCA, maybe not as far away as 2027 but you get my point.

    I’ll have to keep an eye out for some more concrete info on guidance for PIP DMs. It’s particularly of interest as I help a lot of PIP claimants who are concerned about their phone assessments (especially the ones with more visible disabilities) and all I can really do is advise them on how best to verbally communicate how their condition affects them in a way most likely to score points.

    Also, to touch on what you mentioned about PIP renewals - recently (as in, past couple of weeks) we’re seeing lots of claimants who have been sent a letter telling them their award has been extended and very shortly after receiving a renewal form to be completed. We err on the side of caution and assist in completing the form, even if an award termination can be successfully challenged it’s obviously not ideal - but I’ve yet to find an answer on whether or not a claimant in this situation would actually have their award stopped if they didn’t complete the form.

  6. #16
    Covid is likely to last into next year so I don’t think anything is clear. I have a lifetime condition which will not get better and my next ESA assessment will be when I am nearly 65. I have been in support group for six years. Do you think those in my situation may be left alone? I would think DWP will have an enormous backlog when things return to some kind of normality.

  7. #17
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saxmoof View Post
    I’ll have to keep an eye out for some more concrete info on guidance for PIP DMs. It’s particularly of interest as I help a lot of PIP claimants who are concerned about their phone assessments (especially the ones with more visible disabilities) and all I can really do is advise them on how best to verbally communicate how their condition affects them in a way most likely to score points.

    Also, to touch on what you mentioned about PIP renewals - recently (as in, past couple of weeks) we’re seeing lots of claimants who have been sent a letter telling them their award has been extended and very shortly after receiving a renewal form to be completed. We err on the side of caution and assist in completing the form, even if an award termination can be successfully challenged it’s obviously not ideal - but I’ve yet to find an answer on whether or not a claimant in this situation would actually have their award stopped if they didn’t complete the form.
    We are also seeing that here in the last few weeks, (and on rightsnet for a month or so). Awards being extended to 2022 but then AR1's/PIP2's still being sent out.
    The advice has to be that if they send you a form then complete the form and send it back.
    Think of it as the same situation of getting an AR1/PIP2 12 months before your award is due to end, you wouldn't ignore that.

    I mentioned rightsnet, do you already read the discussion forum there? It's a good resource for finding out current information, trends, and issues, it can get a bit legal.
    You say 'we're seeing', if you are employed as a professional advisor, or a volunteer for one of the organisations, then you should ask your boss about a rightsnet subscription, they may already have one.
    I'm registered there but as I'm not employed as an advisor I don't have full access. (Yet, I'm working on it).
    https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums

    Yes, if things keep on like they are then they are going to have to look again at the whole issue of assessments for PIP and WCAs for ESA/UC.
    Welfare organisations have been calling for changes to assessments for years, there have been some changes (10 year light touch for example) but the current situation may give the DWP a poke to do something.
    There are a number of things that were 'on the back burner' which have been brought in quickly due to covid, telephone and video assessments and appeals being a case in point. They were already allowed it was just a question of having the will and equipment to do them.

    They have already stated their intention that they want to bring assessments back 'in-house' and scrap the current providers.
    (Scotland recently made the press with that one but it was stated for England well before covid struck, it just didn't make headlines at the time).
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  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by nukecad View Post
    We are also seeing that here in the last few weeks, (and on rightsnet for a month or so). Awards being extended to 2022 but then AR1's/PIP2's still being sent out.
    The advice has to be that if they send you a form then complete the form and send it back.
    Think of it as the same situation of getting an AR1/PIP2 12 months before your award is due to end, you wouldn't ignore that.

    I mentioned rightsnet, do you already read the discussion forum there? It's a good resource for finding out current information, trends, and issues, it can get a bit legal.
    You say 'we're seeing', if you are employed as a professional advisor, or a volunteer for one of the organisations, then you should ask your boss about a rightsnet subscription, they may already have one.
    I'm registered there but as I'm not employed as an advisor I don't have full access. (Yet, I'm working on it).
    https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums

    Yes, if things keep on like they are then they are going to have to look again at the whole issue of assessments for PIP and WCAs for ESA/UC.
    Welfare organisations have been calling for changes to assessments for years, there have been some changes (10 year light touch for example) but the current situation may give the DWP a poke to do something.
    There are a number of things that were 'on the back burner' which have been brought in quickly due to covid, telephone and video assessments and appeals being a case in point. They were already allowed it was just a question of having the will and equipment to do them.

    They have already stated their intention that they want to bring assessments back 'in-house' and scrap the current providers.
    (Scotland recently made the press with that one but it was stated for England well before covid struck, it just didn't make headlines at the time).
    Nukecad somebody on the Martin Lewis Benefit Forum has stated that ESA Telephone Assesments would only award ESA support group for 6 months and then DWP would request new assesments.. this can't be true surely? What's the point in re-awarding in the 1st place if so? :/

  9. #19
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    That is NOT what I said on MSE...

    If SG is awarded again it is more likely than not to be a 6 month award

    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com...king-things/p1

    I simply did not say the words that you have attributed to me. You have taken my words out of context and apportioned another meaning entirely.
    Last edited by Kimmy123; 16-11-20 at 16:44.

  10. #20
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    It is clearly stated in the guidance I linked to and is in the quote (7th bullet point) that I provided in this post:
    https://www.youreable.com/forums/sho...l=1#post173125
    That guidance has been updated, see post #21 in this thread.
    Unless you have robust evidence for LCWRA and prognosis, the default prognosis for LCWRA YES cases will be 6 months. However if the evidence is robust you can justify a longer prognosis. In LCWRA No cases there is no requirement to advise a prognosis.
    It's also stated in bold higher up that guidance in paragraph 1.9:
    The prognosis / re-referral period advised should default to 6 months unless the HCP feels there is sufficient evidence to support a longer duration when this should be advised accordingly.
    So unless there is strong evidence that it should be longer then the Support Group Prognosis from a telephone assessment will usually be for 6 months.

    However that's just an admin measure and means very little for the claimant in practice,
    if you are in Support Group/UC-LCWRA then you will stay in Support Group/UC-LCWRA following a telephone assessment.

    The most it will mean is you may have another telephone assessment in 6 months time. (I doubt it though, see below).
    But as noted above that will either be 'LCWRA yes' so Support Group for another 6 months prognosis, or 'LCWAR no' and stay in Support Group until they can do F2Fs again.

    Personally I think it's very unlikely that they will keep doing repeat telephone WCA's every 6 months, (although it is possible).
    It's not been 6 months since they started doing them so nobody knows for sure yet.

    It would be stupid of them to keep reassessing every 6 months those who are clearly in SG, whilst not doing it in cases where SG is not clear.
    I expect that they will simply keep extending a 6 month prognosis by another 6 months at a time, until they can do F2Fs again.

    I think it's simply that when they wrote/published that guidance back in June they were thinking that lockdown would have eneded and hoping that things would be back to normal (whatever that is) within 6 months, and so they could then do a F2F instead and give a proper prognosis.

    Although still in current use that guidance is 4 or 5 months old now, which is a long time in Covid, and so various parts of it could benefit from a rewording to account for the changes that have happened in that 4/5 months.
    Last edited by nukecad; 16-11-20 at 19:34.
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