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TOPIC: Esa - Plop2: The Sequel

Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 16:45 #6402

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Hi folks!

Well, its been some time since I last posted here since all the appeal stuff I got help with (and won!) - and time has passed. I thought it would be nice to give an update to how I am and how things are in the land of benefits/esa for me. :)

Over the last 8 months, my health has very slowly improved, and is in a much better state than it was previously - but I still have a portion of my original symptoms I used to have. I'm happy with how things have gone - but now I am at the stage of pondering what to do when it comes to the Dwp!

I recently received (boo!) the dreaded questionnaire, and I have been pondering it for the last 2 weeks (needs posting soon) - as to how best to approach it. Speaking to friends, they feel I should still go ahead with it and see what happens although the general thought is that what remains of my health issues, won't be enough for me to survive staying on esa - but will maybe give me a little breathing space until I hear back from them or get an assessment down the road somewhere.

Which leads me to feel that at the moment, I am on the 'brink' of Esa, but also unable to say sod it, I'll just switch back to Jsa - as I feel I wouldn't be able to comply with their rules just yet. I have had an adviser call me a couple of times the last 2 months to see how I am, and I've tried to be honest (but a tad vague - dont want to throw them an easy carrot!), but they have been ok with me and they understand im not ready to do anything major quite yet.

So, advice if anyone has it! What ive had told me already and what ive read about people in a similar situation to myself, is don't come off esa yourself - let them decide and take you off it. (if that is the outcome of the questionnaire/assessment). I've tried to be as honest and 'describe the worst of your issues' on the form, but its screaming fail already - but I'm happy if that's the outcome because at least I have been truthful. I just want to do the right thing, but not leave myself in an awkward position.

Any views or opinions ? :D

(not sure how it ended up in the support group section - dont recall posting it in here! please move if need be :) )
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 17:15 #6404

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Hi, Plop ;)

That's really weird, I was looking through your posts this morning and realised it will be April soon and you'll be up for renewal. Glad to hear things have improved a bit for you.

Did you complete the elctronic form or the one you got in the post?

I'm ready for phase 2 if you are buddy, and I'm sure CoD is pottering around somewhere B)
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Esa - update and other me updates! 04 Mar 2018 17:28 #6405

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Hi Plop! Good to know you are doing well (albeit not 100%) but all the same. I think you might benefit from reading this recent reply on the benefits & work website who won an appeal for PIP,....basically telling people how best to explain their problems.

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It`s all good and well you telling them you are feeling better, but you have to weigh up the consequences of Universal Credit (if you can`t now claim JSA) and how the full conditionality would affect you. I personally think if you are a full on, happy to do the 35 hour job search, attend interviews, manage an online UC journal and possibly cope with being tasked with attending your job centre on a whim, then the all work conditionality group is for you!

At the very most, I would say you still belong in what we call the WRAG of ESA, the working related group. If you are currently in the Support group, you will need to justify (with medical evidence as you know) why you should still be there and why. You have had some improvement with your health, which is great, but DWP will think you have had a miracle cure! So approach this carefully Plop. Being too honest about how you feel can backfire, but at the same time, I can sympathise with being honest and hope they don`t twist your words. As they love to do.

I would think about what still concerns you Plop and address how that might affect what you can do. Do you manage a lot of things but at your own pace? What do you still struggle with? Medications, do you totally rely on those or do they fluctuate in dose? What has your GP said or consultants?

If you are already in the WRAG group, I would say stay there if you have any worries, or if the worst case scenario arises and you have to claim JSA or UC, make sure that any Claimant Commitment reflects your limitations before you agree to sign it. They need to know from the start what you can/can`t do because if you start applying for jobs, they will expect you to be able to do the work or travel 90 minutes each way. So think about all these things.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 18:12 #6406

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Hey there both of you! :)

Spanner,

I have meant to post on a number of occasions, but sometimes im just not much of a poster on forums! I try , but sometimes i need very specific reasons to do so, and i guess this was one. Although i do come back regularly to have a nosey :)

Well, i received the paper esa50 in the post a while ago, and after reading it i noticed you could also download a copy and fill the pdf in (which i have done). This time i got the help from the same friend that helped before. But im having issues with wording some of the answers..

(and to bring cod into the reply now!)

As i said, my health is much better - if i was 10/10 for how 'bad' my health was 1+ years ago, i would give it a 4/10 now. I marked improvement. I still have some of the symptoms i had previously to a lesser degree, but i dont have the worst symptoms i had before my operation which played a big part in (i believe) winning my appeal (that you could argue shouldnt have gone to appeal).

So , i have been in the wrag group since the appeal - but its only 2 months ago that i finally had to see someone at jokeshop - they were decent enough, and we've spoke twice since on the phone.

My issue im having is that i feel im on the 'edge' of being on esa or being able to stay on it. But i dont feel ready to accept jsa and everything that goes with it. Friends are saying i should push the esa thing , as i am still in that 'not ready' stage. But im confused. I dont quite know what to do. Ive filled in the esa50 form twice now - once under the guidance of a friend (pushing the staying on esa route).. and one ive filled in under the 'brutaly honest and truthful but ill probably fail' route.

I understand that i maybe should try staying in that position , at least for a while longer, but because my sypmtoms and health has improved, I feel like id by lying or being dishonest about things. Hospital has noted i still have a couple of symptoms they noted when visiting, but the rest (coupled with talking to me), is fine now, and they don't need to see me again as they feel there is nothing more they can do as things are. (im back with my gp).

I slowly came off my medication to see how things went towards end of last year, and will discuss with my gp should i feel i need to try going back on it. But for now im on no medication.

So yeah, it has to be posted soon, i have 2 versions of it (one for pushing esa, one for being more honest but ill probably fail).. but im having a crisis as i dont want to lie or be dishonest, but ideally maybe i should stay longer (or at least try) on esa.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 18:28 #6407

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So just to quickly summarise :

I feel the worst of my symptoms are what got me onto esa and to win the appeal. But because now i more or less dont have those worst symptoms now (while still having some of the minor ones), i feel that no matter what i put on esa50, or however cleverly i word it based around my current symptoms - its not gonna be enough.. but i still want to send it in and at least let someone else make the decision of me staying on esa or not! :)
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 18:52 #6408

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Bit of a dilemma there, Plop.

I would keep hold of both of those ESA50's. I'm sure whichever one you send, it will be the right choice for you and your conscience ;)
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 04 Mar 2018 19:02 #6410

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Yeah, both of them are valid - the one that pushes the esa side of things is based on my current symptoms, but makes more of it and i try to explain in a similar sense to previous esa50's.. the one that i feel will 'fail' me - is similar, but ive omitted a couple of questions that i don't feel i need to answer this time around, but its far more 'honest' in the sense that , im not being dishonest with anything - just not answering certain questions i dont feel i can answer well this time.

As i say, both are valid - but im torn which way to go. its a dilemma because as i say, feel im on the edge of esa - but i also don't feel im ready to go jsa route yet either, so staying esa for time being sounds better, but im maybe not in as 'good' a position to push that now.

Dont really know which route to go for the best.
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Esa - update and other me updates! 04 Mar 2018 19:07 #6411

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comply or die wrote:
At the very most, I would say you still belong in what we call the WRAG of ESA, the working related group. If you are currently in the Support group, you will need to justify (with medical evidence as you know) why you should still be there and why. You have had some improvement with your health, which is great, but DWP will think you have had a miracle cure! So approach this carefully Plop. Being too honest about how you feel can backfire, but at the same time, I can sympathise with being honest and hope they don`t twist your words. As they love to do.

Thats another problem im dealing with - i dont want to be too honest and fail miserably - but i want to be as honest i can and explain my current situation best i can. written the 2 esa50's - one was helped with the friend that previously and while sticks with my current symptoms and such, it makes more of it to get the point across. whereby the more brutally honest esa50 i filled in on my own - ive omitted some things i didnt feel i needed to answer now. (but is still valid if i *did* answer them).

its a tough one because i want to do whats right, but dont want to drop myself in a situation when im not quite ready for it yet.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 12:26 #6414

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Plop wrote:
But i dont feel ready to accept jsa and everything that goes with it.

This alone tells me that the thought of JSA or Universal Credit scares you Plop and rightly so. I would ask myself the question, even though I feel `well` within myself, would facing the full on conditionality of UC or JSA send me peddling backwards again, or will I be able to handle everything mentally, but moreso physically?

It`s a milestone that you have been able to progress and not rely on any medications (something they will no doubt pick up on and say "Mr Plop does not require medication to control his illness" ...or words to that effect. So gives them an excuse to say you can manage your illness or you no longer need any control for it.

Okay.....given that you have two trains of thought here Plop, I can`t persuade you on which road to take because your illness is different from mine, but if I was in the same position, wondering which ESA50 to send, I would send the one that tells them that you still meet a few of the descriptors for ESA looking at which descriptors you were awarded previously and peraps ommiting one if it no longer applies, but at the same time, concentrate on your coping strategies and that you still have X symptoms and how those still affect you/ability to cope etc....

End of the day, if they come back with a `nil` points score, it will give you a few weeks to consider a mandatory reconsideration and then appealing if you think they just wiped over your evidence because what you need to remember here is, if you fill in the ESA50, attend a face to face assessment and then get the `nil` points and then don`t bother with the MR and appeal and you ever need to claim ESA again, it would have to be for a different illness or a `significant` worsening of a current complaint. DWP (I was told by CAB) would also make you re-sit THIS appeal if you didn`t persue it before considering anything else. My CAB advisor said that I should take it to the end whether I won or not, because that`s what happens when we get a `nil` result and accept defeat and claim JSA/UC. It leaves your ESA claim in limbo, even though you feel defeated and move on. The fact that you didn`t question their results or opinions gives them the upper hand.

So many goal posts have been changed within Universal Credit and the old ESA system and many appeals are now held over the internet, or in writing. So I`m not too sure when the oral appealmeetings are ending, but it was on the cards.

Put it this way Plop, it won`t hurt to listen to your consience, but don`t deny yourself the `help` that being in the WRAG is. It may not be the Support Group, but it`s a damn better situation to be in if you have doubts about being able to manage JSA/UC like a bull in a china shop because that`s what it would feel like to someone who has been able to pace themselves.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 13:05 #6415

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Hi cod,

Thanks for your detailed response, it made me feel better about how things are, how I feel and how I should approach the coming weeks & most likely assessment.

As I say previously, although my issues are half what they were, I still have the lesser remaining issues. These are still valid in their own right - but it is why I am confused about how things will go. I feel im borderline Esa and can easily see them failing me eventually - but I also am not ready for Jsa and complying with everything they put on you.

My medication was eased up really to see how it would effect me over the following weeks and months. After speaking recently with the hospital they noted that certain issues with my 'health' were still present (they did some tests and stuff to check me over), but couldn't account for why that would be. They also noted a couple of other symptoms I had told them about that I was still getting (albeit to a lesser degree than before), and that was also 'well they are not as bad as they were so thats ok' kinda response. So as things are I'm in the care of my Gp to watch over me -but I should return to the hospital should things not improve or get worse again eventually.

So, regarding the esa50's i mentioned previously - i'll just clarify that here as reading back it looks like I waffled somewhat. With a friend (that helped with my previous ones), we wrote what would be the main answers to the questionnaire. This takes into account how i am now, it updates how things 'now' affect me and is fairly detailed for the most part - this is the one i said was more 'esa' related - getting my issues across and trying to meet each of the questions the best we could. The other I wrote myself was basically chunks of the first - but I removed answers from a couple of questions, as I didn't feel I needed to answer those now but on the whole it wasn't as informative as the first. Since yesterday and speaking to my friend, we have tweaked it slightly and it is now gone in the post - so in answer to your paragraph about esa50 - we went with the more informative - add as much as we could to get my current state across and try to meet descriptors, but we removed just the 1 answer from the questionnaire as it didn't fit currently.

My thoughts have been similar to what you say about - at the end of the day, what will be will be. If they fail me after assessment - fair enough - but at least it will give me some weeks from now until then, and then time to consider how to follow that up with an MR should I fail etc. So yeah I agree its probably the best to follow things through to the end and take it up to there, because what potentially comes later sounds far worse.

Thanks for the reply anyhow, its helped me view how i am at moment better in regards to taking my esa claim as far as possible while also taking into account how i currently am.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 14:06 #6416

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Plop wrote:
so in answer to your paragraph about esa50 - we went with the more informative

I`m glad you chose this one Plop because the `lesser` one would no doubt have failed on the many points you edited out as not being `current` but could recur, so choosing to send the ESA50 with more factually based evidence was the better option. When you are answering any questions during your assessment, remember to mention that you still don`t feel able to fully participate mentally or physically with full time work and explain why. Think about things like would you start feeling more tired than normal if you were sat on a daily basis at your computer looking through job sites, applying for jobs you knew you couldn`t do but felt obliged to apply anyway because you wanted to stay within your claimant commitment to do X,Y and Z?

One thing I would do Plop is to look at what you would restrict your work search to and how to best apply that if you were failed for ESA even after appeal. The "I agree to do X, Y, and Z" stuff on your agreement because once it`s agreed to and signed, they will hold you to it. So look at things like:

1. Travelling times to a job? - Normally 90 minutes each way.
2. Types of job you CAN`T do - List tasks that you find tiring or make you weak or stressed.
3. How many hours would you be expected to do? Think about your situation IN work and any reasonable adjustments you would want made if required.
4. Getting up earlier than normal to be at work for 8:30am start? That would mean leaving earlier to catch the bus or train or driving....

Just a few pointers.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 14:28 #6417

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Yeah I was abit hmmm about the more detailed one at first - I dunno there was just something I wasn't happy about. So i decided to edit it and make it a bit more straight forward and to the point with the second 'more to the point' one. But speaking afterwards to my friend , it didn't look good at all and said similar to you - 'that will be a fail if you don't use the original one'. So as i say, we tweaked the original one a tad more to my taste, and it turned out fine.

I shall remember your advice though come the assessment (which it will, eventually!), and try to explain things as they are now in the sense you have explained. I seem to recall last time it took an almost two months from sending in esa50 until I recieved a letter about an assessment. Not sure what the wait is like these days, but i can imagine it hasn't changed too much.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 14:52 #6419

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Yes, I`m not sure about delays. I suppose it depends which part of the UK you are in and how they are managing to cope with volume. I know two people who are still on the old DLA benefit and haven`t yet been `invited` to claim PIP. But the government keep pushing the dates back. I never seem to be lucky in that respect as I`m usually first on their list for re-assessments. It`s about time I was placed at the bottom of their pile!
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 15:34 #6421

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Haha yeah!

Well, I kept track of the last 2 assessments i had - the first i was seen within about 5 weeks i think? of sending esa50 in. The last assessment like i say took them nearly 2 months till i heard something. I don't mind if they take their time again! :D
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 16:44 #6422

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I read about people sending in their ESA50 and then still waiting after a year to be called for a face to face. I`m not that bloody lucky! :lol:
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 05 Mar 2018 17:23 #6423

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Haha yeah I have read about people waiting that long :D I have a friend who waited (if memory serves me right , as it was about 4-5 years back), nearly a year I seem to recall!.. so yeah i dont mind if they take their time!

Thanks for the replies again anyhow, its been helpful :)
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 06 Mar 2018 10:45 #6424

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Hopefully Plop2, now that they have invented such a balls up of a system with UC, your wait will be many months and wishing this for myself when and if i eventually have to apply for ESA.

The government have themselves to blame for structuring such a pathetic unconstructive bureaucratic nightmare of a circus. :)
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 09 Mar 2018 17:34 #6475

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Plop, I can't help but be constantly drawn to the JSA/UC side of this argument each time I go over your internal strugglings.

I have been borderline ESA virtually the whole time I have been on it as I think most if not all in WRAG are and even when I was in the support group this surprised me.

Having been left for dead at one stage, however, I have no sense of guilt over the periods of recovery. I have handled that by doing voluntary work, much safer if in a supervised environment although at times directly covering for paid staff ironically off sick. Having had benefits sharply stopped whilst volunteering though I haven't undertaken any for 3-4 years now.

The two brief periods I had on JSA were a bit scary and I doubt that it is just like that for people with mental or physical disabilities but rather contributes to making sane people ill - I even attribute blame there as a significant factor in my marriage failing and subsequent breakdown that led me to go on incapacity before ESA even came along. I have had it clarified to me only yesterday by my advisor at the JC that my CV is full of gaps particularly that last few years that I would be unlikely to land an interview based upon it even though the contents therein are quite impressive. So I have some useful skills and experience but because I haven't been working recently it is all irrelevant. Why then if virtually unemployable have they been so hasty to move me out of the Support Group? What work related activity could they possibly find for somebody in my situation? The very first stage of producing a CV has hit a brick wall. Shouldn't it be the case that I am then sent back to the Support Group? They don't even have such a policy! The main reason they move people from one benefit to another is to save money, they aren't really that bothered about producing quality jobs or candidates to fill them. But guess what, the suggestion of doing more voluntary work came up - voluntary work has yet to get me paid employment (including being passed over when jobs have come up in situ) and I have been doing it on and off since before I left school circa1981!

So first consider what you have been doing in the way of work during your time on ESA as this is how employers will be looking at you and they like inactivity least of all no matter how useful you might actually be. There are many many people only trapped from getting a job by this barrier - unfair and a waste of good people but very real.

My question to you then is simple and it is the one put to me by the chair of my very first appeal panel: do you feel ready to go back to work? If the answer is no, then you need to make the most of this two months or so (which I believe to be quite accurate) and consider appealing after what is more likely to be another zero points score if you still don't think you are ready for work after that. I could not agree more with comply or die about seeing the current review period out and was pleased to see you plan to take that route. In the meantime there could realistically be further developments in benefits policies that have some bearing.

As I have just been reviewed and moved from Support to WRAG they made it clear that previous situation is irrelevant and you are considered from scratch again on each ESA50 questionnaire. This is yet another example of their medical negligence imho - medical history being a significant factor in many new or continued diagnoses - on top of appointing under qualified registered nurses to deliver this assessment and thus having a direct effect on the final decision just shows how we have slid - even the growing list of casualties hasn't shamed labour or conservative governments into cancelling contracts for maximus or atos (who pulled out themselves).

Don't get me wrong, I admire your honesty but that is best shared between close and trusted friends whereas far as the bluntness of the draconian deserving/undeserving DWP stance which sees everything in black & white of guilty until proven innocent - that is how in turn you should approach the whole process with clinical diligence.

Whilst I have a long term fluctuating illness this doesn't mean it is entirely different to your own situation. Those lingering symptoms could be longer term than you think. I took my eye off the ball during one recovery period and had a serious relapse within a few months of signing on again, missed a couple of appointments and was only lucky in respect of it being pre-sanctions era. I will now only go on JSA/UC if absolutely forced because I know that over any sustained period I am unlikely ever to be fully up to it and that's going on the system several years ago before it got tougher. Factor into that the still unknown quantity of the new Health & Work Programme and I can only assume things are set to carry on getting harder with a mandatory tweak here and there to patch up the loopholes we have discovered.

Strange as it seems, I don't find the concept of going into full time work anywhere near as daunting as signing on every two weeks doing 35 hours job search indefinitely.

ESA might realistically be only around for about another 12 months or so if the plan for UC to replace everything goes ahead upon full roll out. Actually still being on ESA when all hell breaks loose might prove to be a potential lifeline not to be sneezed at.
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 09 Mar 2018 19:49 #6477

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jobber wrote:
Hopefully Plop2, now that they have invented such a balls up of a system with UC, your wait will be many months and wishing this for myself when and if i eventually have to apply for ESA.

The government have themselves to blame for structuring such a pathetic unconstructive bureaucratic nightmare of a circus. :)

Hopefully they take their time dealing with me for sure..!
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Esa - Plop2: The Sequel 09 Mar 2018 20:08 #6478

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Verc wrote:

So first consider what you have been doing in the way of work during your time on ESA as this is how employers will be looking at you and they like inactivity least of all no matter how useful you might actually be. There are many many people only trapped from getting a job by this barrier - unfair and a waste of good people but very real.

My question to you then is simple and it is the one put to me by the chair of my very first appeal panel: do you feel ready to go back to work? If the answer is no, then you need to make the most of this two months or so (which I believe to be quite accurate) and consider appealing after what is more likely to be another zero points score if you still don't think you are ready for work after that. I could not agree more with comply or die about seeing the current review period out and was pleased to see you plan to take that route. In the meantime there could realistically be further developments in benefits policies that have some bearing.

As I have just been reviewed and moved from Support to WRAG they made it clear that previous situation is irrelevant and you are considered from scratch again on each ESA50 questionnaire. This is yet another example of their medical negligence imho - medical history being a significant factor in many new or continued diagnoses - on top of appointing under qualified registered nurses to deliver this assessment and thus having a direct effect on the final decision just shows how we have slid - even the growing list of casualties hasn't shamed labour or conservative governments into cancelling contracts for maximus or atos (who pulled out themselves).

Don't get me wrong, I admire your honesty but that is best shared between close and trusted friends whereas far as the bluntness of the draconian deserving/undeserving DWP stance which sees everything in black & white of guilty until proven innocent - that is how in turn you should approach the whole process with clinical diligence.

Whilst I have a long term fluctuating illness this doesn't mean it is entirely different to your own situation. Those lingering symptoms could be longer term than you think.

ESA might realistically be only around for about another 12 months or so if the plan for UC to replace everything goes ahead upon full roll out. Actually still being on ESA when all hell breaks loose might prove to be a potential lifeline not to be sneezed at.

Thanks for the big reply Verc, a good read and good advice mixed in with what cod says too. Ill just reply to a few sections ive cut out to quote..

I had the issue of 'inactivity' even before I became ill - for various reasons and such. Not helped moreso in recent years with health problems for sure. For some years now I've always tried my best with things, tried to improve myself and i even spent 2-3 years (more so on and off for the second half of that), doing voluntary work - but to be honest, i dont ever see a voluntary position helping to get work no matter how much they push the 'good idea' of it with the dwp/etc. It just didn't work for me.

As things are (and ive already kinda said in a roundabout way), im not ready to be going back to work - my issue was that in my head, i felt i was maybe borderline esa but couldnt face jsa. After speaking in here and to friends, and as you say yourself, to continue pushing after the next couple of months (assuming it takes them that long to deal with me), and to further go to appeal should i, i feel, most likely fail with 0 points this time. I have mostly kept my views of myself on here and to a couple of close friends. As far as the esa50 went - i stuck mostly as i say, to the more informative , answering as much as honestly/clearly as i could, but keeping it in line with my health & issues too. Obviously it had to reflect somewhat those changes to myself over the last year, but it mainly sticks to the way we filled it in in the past, and we highlighted what remaining symtpoms and such i have, as best we could.

My main worry is that my symptoms will get worse again - the problems I have (even after surgery), are quite well known to eventually return or increase in their problems/effects over time.. so im well aware that while the very worst of my problems have eased back , and im left with a mix of lesser symptoms, the really bad stuff could return again. So it was probably wise to take that into account too in not rushing into anything.

Well, regardless of how long esa will be around - i will be pushing this as it goes along - even if it means appealing once again if thats how it goes. As you and cod have said, looking at what is or will be available, it maybe a much better position to push staying on esa - at least for the near ish future.
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