19 June 2009

N.B. This article was published in 2009, since then the assessment provider has changed and telephone and video assessments with different questions have been introduced.  Our up-to-date Guide to employment and support allowance and universal credit claims on physical and mental health grounds will take you through every step of the claim and assessment process, including telephone and face-to-face assessments and the questions you are likely to be asked.  Get more details about preparing for a UC assessment and preparing for an ESA assessment, including entry into the support group (LCWRA).

A Benefits and Work member has provide us with a list of all 35 questions they were asked at a work capability assessment relating to mental health, which we are now publishing.  Many of the same 'Daily living' questions will also be asked in relation to physical health claims. The list adds to the growing question marks over whether such a simplistic procedure can properly be called a medical examination.

It is clear from the most recent LiMA guidance we have obtained, that the full extent of an ESA mental health medical in many cases consists largely of asking questions like these and then clicking on standard or variable phrases which most nearly match the claimant’s response. Though in some cases it seems that the health professional clicks on a response that in no way matches what the claimant has told them, or simply answers the question without ever having put it to the claimant.

The software then decides which mental health descriptors apply to the claimant and pastes the standard phrases at various points in the report as justification.  The health professional is then supposed to check through the computer generated choices to ensure they agree with them.

So, for example, ‘The client receives visits from their friends occasionally’ appears to be a standard phrase in relation to question 29 in our list which we have seen used to justify awarding no points for:

Activity 17  Coping with change
Activity 18  Getting about
Activity 19  Coping with social situations

Benefits and Work has received the first copies of ESA85 WCA medical reports we recently asked members to send us and we will be telling members more about how they work over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, members may wish to consider how to give the most accurate evidence in relation to the questions below.  Even though there is, it seems, a real question mark over how accurately their answers will be recorded.

Work capability assessment mental health questions

1. Do you know what you are here for?
2. What are your medical conditions?
3. How long have you had these conditions?
4. How do these conditions affect you?
5. What medication do you take?
6. Do you have bowel and bladder control?
7. Is there any other medication you are on?
8. What type of house do you live in?
9. Is there an upstairs or downstairs bathroom?   
10. Do you always sleep upstairs?
11. Do you sleep well?
12. How did you get to the medical?
13. How long did it take to get there?
14. Why did you stop work?
15. Do you need help to wash and dress yourself?
16. Do you cook?
17. Can you follow a recipe?
18. Can you follow instructions on microwaveable food?
19. Do you deal with your own finances?
20. Do you do the shopping?
21. How often do you shop?
22. Do you do the shopping on your own?
23. Do you drive?
24. Is the car automatic or manual?
25. How long can you drive for?
26. Do you have any hobbies or interests?
27. Do you read?
28. Do you have a computer, what do you use it for and for how long?
29. Do you socialise with friends and family?
30. Do you drink alcohol?
31. How do you feel about coming here today?
32. Do you go for a walk?
33. How do you feel about changes to routine?
34. What happens if an unexpected visitor comes to the house?
35. Did you fill the form in yourself?



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