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Claimants could be left without any income replacement benefit at all when challenging a decision that they are fit for work, the government has confirmed.  Once the new system of mandatory reconsiderations before appeals is introduced, employment and support allowance (ESA)claimants will lose their right to be paid the assessment rate when they first challenge a decision.

Instead, they will have to try to sign on as available for work and claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or manage without either benefit until the reconsideration has been carried out.  Only once an appeal has been lodged will they be able to reclaim ESA.  The decision to refuse to pay ESA during the reconsideration period was confirmed by Lord Freud on 13 February, when he told the House of Lords:

“I turn now to ESA. At the moment, if someone appeals a refusal of ESA, it can continue to be paid pending the appeal being heard; this is not changing. What is changing is that there can be no appeal until there has been a mandatory reconsideration. So there will be a gap in payment. In that period-and I repeat that applications will be dealt with quickly so that this is kept to a minimum-the claimant could claim jobseeker's allowance or universal credit. Alternative sources of funds are available. Of course, he or she may choose to wait for the outcome of the application and then, if necessary, appeal and be paid ESA at that point.”

However, there is no time-limit for how long the DWP can spend carrying out a mandatory reconsideration.  Given the ever increasing workload and ever decreasing staff numbers, the probability of reconsiderations being carried out in weeks rather than months does not seem high.  

In addition, some people attempting to claim JSA may find Jobcentre Plus staff attempting to refuse to accept their claim on the grounds that, because of their health condition, they are not available for and actively seeking work.  This may be particularly the case as claimants are likely to be required to continue submitting sick notes in relation to their ESA claim whilst presenting themselves as fit for work in relation to their JSA claim.  Claimants may well find themselves  in the nightmare scenario of being found too fit to claim ESA but too sick to claim JSA.

Even the start date for the new mandatory reconsiderations for ESA is the subject of confusion.  DWP and ministerial statements refer to a start date in April for PIP mandatory reconsiderations and  October  for ESA.  The draft regulations, on the other hand, give a start date of 8th April for PIP and 29 April for ESA, JSA and universal credit mandatory reconsiderations.  We’ll keep you posted.


#44 Al 2015-07-23 07:45
I have been incapacitated for work since 2011, but submitted a claim for ESA in 2013 due to my condition having worsened to end stage kidney disease by then, In January 2014 I received a response from ESA stating that they cannot pay me ESA from 17 Oct 2013 because I have not paid or been credited with enough NI contributions for the tax years ending 5 Apr 2011 and 5 Apr 2012 to assess my claim? However, they say they can still credit me with NI Contributions while claiming ESA which is ongoing since over a year now without money to live. Can anyone advise whether the shortfall in my NI contributions will effect my claim to ESA payments for the rest of my life or is there a possibility that money towards living expenses will commence seen as my NI contributions have been paid in full for over a year now by the DWP through my ongoing ESA claim? I am aged 61 with deteriorating end stage kidney function as a result of which I am also in receipt of Personal Independence Payment. Despite this, I have now been asked to attend an work related assessment next month? Any suggestions or advice on what I should do to get the DWP to correct this situation will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
#43 trev1865 2015-03-24 13:01
after a long wait on mr we moved to jsa to get some money in.
now the mr has finished (turned down)we have appealed to tribunal
a week ago but still no confirmation from them or the dwp..any ideas how long we have to wait so we can switch back onto esa assesment rate?
#42 aud 2013-08-16 18:41
I had my appeal yesterday the ladies on the panel were really good, unfortunately my appeal was turned down as I am not disabled enough to go onto the other group, and I have the problem now of not being disabled enough for that group but to disabled to apply for a job, im losing £100.15 a week how do I cope with losing that much and is there anything else that I can claim, do you know if my husband can neven claim on his tax allowance for me?

Help would be greatly appreciated as im now worried sick, and cant cope

+1 #41 Neil Ehrhart 2013-06-08 14:44
I had to return form ESA50 by 9/1/13 which I did. I thought no news was good news but as I hadnt heard anything by May I thought I had better follow it up.
I rang job centre and they couldnt tell me anything so was put through to ATOS who confirmed I was signed off on 9 Feb and that they did not want to see me.
I then spoke to a Decision Maker at the job centre who stated that it was not up to ATOS who went on the support group/WRAG and sure enough when my notification arrived she had put me on the WRAG.
I was very disappointed that as ATOS confirmed I am not fit for work why is some civil servant, not medically trained, telling me that my chronic, progressive illness will improve sufficiently in the future enough for me to return to work!?
#40 edwolf88 2013-05-10 00:59
under this ruling while awaiting appeal go on jsa
i am employed and had a accident and on long term sick leave, while i was waiting for a op my 6 months ssp ran out and was required to go on esa , i was soon sent for a examination which i had 0 points. my gp i could not work at present, my consultant said the same so did my physio and my oc/health would not and still wont let me start back at moment even in the most mondane rolls. when calling dwp they informed me of 3 opptions, go back to work, apply jsa or appeal which
appeal took no more than 15 mins and was put on support element for 2 years.'
luckly i had payment while waiting 7 months if i did'nt dont know what.

i have always worked and am still employed now with disabiliy rights for when i return which i hope to soon and no stay on esa for the 2 years.
so why now should people who have been on long term sick 6 months be forced out of their job and put on jsa while waiting appeal
+5 #39 jenwren 2013-03-12 20:40
Well D day tomorrow lets hope I win as couldn't face taking things further although will if have to now. had no money for 2 and half weeks.Will have to live on mobility money till they decide.Tried numerous times to get through on phone to jobcentre to see what could claim but got told after waiting 25 mins they couldn't hear me and hung up so rang back to be told ring tomorrow .WHOSE going to pay the phone bill not them.Wish me luck as I am not going down without a fight. :sad:
#38 John 2013-03-10 17:40
My appeal for DLA has gone on now for several YEARS. It was stopped because it was claimed that they couldn't pay me because I had moved to France. I maintained that this was illegal and this has since been confirmed. The DWP now concede that I am entitled to DLA but will only pay out after a tribunal. The Tribunal service has passed this from Newcastle, to Liverpool then to Peterborough then back to Liverpool now to Surrey. They have now given me a date of 3rd April but they won't pay travelling expenses until my point of entry which will be St. Pancras. How am I expected to cross London in a wheelchair. They will only pay for one night in a hotel and the maximum is £85. The French class me as being over 85% handicapped and that I need to be accompanied everywhere so my wife will have to come with me. Although the French give me special concessions none are financial. The offer of a video link was made and later withdrawn. It is blatantly obvious that the DWP and the Tribunals service are trying their hardest to prevent my appeal. The last trick was to send me a letter dated the 27th February but didn't post it until 6th March. When my appeal is heard I will make sure that all ex-pats in France and Spain who are in the same situation as me, are aware that they should persevere.
#37 mike1983 2013-03-03 18:17
ok so this means if im put in WRAG i cant appeal i got my esa form like 2 days ago
#36 Asbo 2013-03-02 21:12
What if somebody is appealing against ESA-WRAG?
+3 #35 Sue Webb 2013-03-01 21:44
The difference is that at the moment you are right - you appeal and a reconsideration is undertaken as a matter of course - as long as you send fit notes in you will receive the assessment rate of esa. Under the new rule you will not be able to appeal until after your reconsideration takes place - as a result you will not even be paid the assessment rate until your reconsideration has taken place and will have to apply for jsa because you have been found fit for work - even though you will still be sending it notes in during this time. If you win your appeal eventually, you will be paid back to the time your esa was refused. This means you could be a month, six weeks or longer withot any benefits. Are they mad! Where's the justice - the law says you are innocent until proven guilty. Not if you're disabled.
#34 Eliza1091 2013-03-01 20:24
This is so horrific -- at one and the same time cannot beleive a government in this country can be so brutal and cruel and yet I know it is really happening and destroying the lives of real live human beings. Nightmare is the right word for it.
+1 #33 person08 2013-03-01 14:42
The problem is the goverment are blase about demonstrations because they know that the vast majority of protesters will be non-violent, with the exception of a few who are mostly opportunists that are easily contained by police presence. So politicians and those in charge can distance themselves because it poses no direct threat to them. If innocent people get injured? Killed? They don't care because they're only looking after their own best interests. Other people's lives don't matter to them.
The only thing that WILL frighten them is when the inevitable happens -and I should point out I am not condoning this, I'm just stating the obvious - when they've pushed too far and people start going after them directly. We see it happening on the news in other countries when the public decide enoughs enough. And it will happen here too because that's what happens when ordinary people are pushed to the point of desperation and have nothing left to lose.
Sick and disabled people are easy targets for their abuse because they take one look at us and think 'they're too physically weak and/or mentally disorganized to even manage day to day, let alone stand up for themselves.' They think we will just go die quietly and then they are rid of us.
And despite how hopeless it seems, that actually makes me want to try my hardest to stay alive just so that I'm still here to watch when these monsters fall.
+1 #32 yellowsun 2013-02-28 23:45
Millions of people petitioned and demonstrated against the Iraq war, but it didn't change anything, the goverment went a head anyway. Someone on the news channel said the reason that demonstrations have no effect on goverment policies, is because goverment policies cannot be changed by demonstrations, only through the democratic process. So until this goverment is voted out we are stuck with the abuse of disabled and sick people in this country. And it seems there is no body or orginazation that is willing or able to stop them.
+1 #31 jenwren 2013-02-28 20:23
I am currently waiting to go for my appeal for esa support group which is not till march after waiting a year but in meantime to add to consideration of suicide as only way out is they stopped my contribution based esa work related activity today tried to ring them which took 40 mins answered all questions only to be told failed the security check and would have to ring back at which point swore at adviser.Had to ring back again waited 40 mins but they cut me off due to technical difficulties IE: it was home time for them it is disheartening and the government has no conscience must be hoping we all die.As for Lord Freud let him spend a day in our shoes or slippers.Where do I turn now as feel like this is end of road cannot fight any more and am at hospital 2 days after appeal for a op.
+4 #30 elaine allen 2013-02-28 20:09
nov 2012 i lost another tribunal and when i applied once again for esa i was told that i would not be paid any money until i had an assessment by atos. i had no money for christmas tried to claim jsa but did not get any money of them due to my claim for esa was live. tried to get crisis loan before christmas unable to get through on the bloody phone. after new year still no money had to get in touch with local mp and they got me two crisis loans at different times. my son who is also in ill health has kept me since nov, and money i got for christmas presents was used to keep me. so it is happening now and it is getting worse. i am a diabetic, sleep aponea and severe depression and i was sucidial with what was going on. and the best news of all is that i have had one medical and this will be my third yes third tribunal in just over a year - what a bloody joke
+2 #29 person08 2013-02-28 18:53
Re: #22 Joy
Thanks for that Joy. Yes this is what I was thinking (or at least hoping). HB is something that always worries me because we had a situation a few years back when my mothers benefit was stopped and consequently so was HB, rent arrears built up and eventually we lost our home. It was hard enough being homeless and trying to find a place to stay at 18 when I was still semi-healthy. Since then my health problems have deteriorated greatly as have my mothers, we would not survive it a second time.
+2 #28 borkwen 2013-02-28 17:14
To the DWP and Atos, there is no such thing as a waste of public money - money spent on operating a grossly inefficient system is salaries and profits for the huge 'unemployment business'. I wish taxpayers could learn this.
#27 smk 2013-02-28 16:48
What I dont understand about all this is that whenever you send sick notes, copies of letters etc with all your details on the ESA get away with losing the information. Dont know where it goes or who has ownership but they continue to quote confidentiality and data protection. Who has all my info if they dont. Even when it was faxed direct from the local Jobcentre no one could find it in my notes. I had to send them all again.Apparentl y according to ESA recorded/specia l delivery does not guarantee receipt. They wont even respond to request for confimation of receipt.
I spoke to my MP about these incompetences and through him managed to ascertain my case is supposed to have gone to appeal . The ESA advised me this could take up to 9 months . Lord Freud is obviously one of the fat cats who does not have to worry where the next meal is coming from!!
+1 #26 rubby owl 2013-02-28 16:38
if you can please copy and paste this in a email or letter to your MP the more people who pester them the better.We need to keep emailing them, they have to respond and they SHOULD pass on your concerns. Lets all pray that Eastleigh dose not vote for this shower in their local election today ;-)
+1 #25 rollinthunder 2013-02-28 16:32
Again this has to be a human rights matter surely if the act can keep terrorists here in luxury then some smart lawer can use it for the good guys

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