Successful ESA appeal
I have to say that, when it came to the appeal, my subscription to B+W was the best £20 or so I ever spent.
More good news from the forums at the end of this newsletter.
Wash, dress and make a cuppa? You’re fit for work.
It would be nice to start a newsletter with good news for a change.
For example, that the ‘imaginary wheelchair’ test we’ve been going on about for over a year was just a figment of our own imagination rather than a threat to both employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants now and disability living allowance (DLA) claimants in the future.
Or that things are getting easier for people with mental health conditions who need to claim benefits.
Unfortunately, we’ve obtained a copy of the handbook that is even now being used to train Atos health professionals to carry out the harsh new work capability assessment – the medical test for ESA - due to come into force on 28 March.
And good news it certainly isn’t.
It’s over 170 pages long and we haven’t worked our way through all of it yet.
But we can already tell you that if you are claiming ESA on mental health or learning difficulties grounds, the guidance to doctors is not going to make it easier.
In fact, if you can wash, dress, make tea and travel alone to your new ESA medical you’ve probably scored zero for six of the seven mental health activities before you arrive. (Members only)
In relation to physical health, we’ve looked very closely at the guidance given to Atos health professionals assessing claimants with mobility problems. And we can now offer much more detailed evidence to support our claim that people with mobility problems will be subject to an ‘imaginary wheelchair’ test. (Members only)
The imaginary wheelchair test won’t just affect ESA claimants. It is also likely to affect DLA claimants if the plans in the welfare reform bill to scrap DLA and force people to claim PIP (personal independence payment) are made law. Mobilising is intended to replace walking as the test for mobility in PIP as well as ESA.
Our step-by-step guides to claims and appeals for the new work capability assessment, plus a copy of the handbook being used by Atos doctors and nurses, will be available for members to download from 28 March. If you’re not already a member, find out how to subscribe to Benefits and Work and give yourself the best possible chance of getting the right decision.
And, sadly, there really is no longer any chance of the new test being thrown out at the last minute: a challenge to the new regulations by the house of lords ended in feeble surrender.
In the course of the debate, conservative minister Lord Freud even claimed that disability organisations had engaged in discussion over the details of the new test and were in agreement with them at the time, only changing their position more recently when they looked at the financial implications.
For sick and disabled claimants forced off ESA and onto jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), the financial implications could be especially dire as a result of new regulations for forced work schemes. These will be aimed at some JSA claimants with “little recent experience of employment” and “ little or no understanding of what behaviours are required to obtain and keep work.” The new powers to force claimants to work up to 30 hours a week for four weeks or lose their JSA for 13 weeks, come into force at the end of April.
However, even if the news is almost uniformly bad, that doesn’t mean that everyone is accepting the cuts without a fight. We’ve covered the rising level of opposition in two recent articles:
Opposition to welfare reform is growing
Opposition to welfare reform update, 17 March
In particular, it’s encouraging that the TUC are making a range of provisions for disabled people who want to join the March for an Alternative on 26 March. There are also plans for a disabled people’s rally against benefits cuts on 11 May.
And for those who feel the need to vent their spleen or to educate our rulers, a committee of MPs want your views on welfare reform.
Finally, before we look at some good news from the Benefits and Work forums, there is one shred of possibly positive news from parliament. Following our piece in the last newsletter warning that mobility payments might end at pensionable age for PIP claimants, Maria Eagle has issued a denial. However, the welfare reform Bill still says that PIP will end at pensionable age – so it really all depends on the extent to which you trust the assurances of a politician.
Good news from the forums
High rate care for 8 month old son
ESA appeal won over the phone
DLA renewed for 5 years
17 days for DLA award
Successful ESA renewal
DLA renewal in nine days
High rate care and mobility after 31 weeks
High rate mobility after two refusals
High rate mobility without a medical
High rate care and mobility indefinitely on renewal
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