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ESA cancelled need help on Mandatory reconsideration

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by nokmax76, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    Hi Guys

    This is one for the UK members really. I have been in the ESA Work Related Activity Group for a year or so now. I think I'm probably bad enough to go in the support group (where you don't have to look for work) but I didn't challenge the decision.

    I wanted to stay in the WRAG because there was help available to ease me back into work and I wanted to try to escape the poverty/depression trap I've fallen into.

    A couple of months ago I had one of the new capability assessments and the nice people at the DWP decided I score no points on the disability work scale. Not a single one. Officially, I'm fit enough for full-time office work. Of course I'm appealing this ridiculous decision (been medically off work for over fifteen years now) and the first step is to write in for something called a "Mandatory Reconsideration".

    Question is, has anyone on here done this and been successful? I'd love to hear from you if you have. Even if you haven't but have been through the process your insights will help.

    Thks in advance.
     
  2. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    hi @nokmax76 my last assessment was just over 2 years ago so don't think i've had the mandatory reconsideration. ive heard that its intention is to save money on the appeals process as many more than normal are winning (on appeal). which would make me think that folk have a fair chance with the re-consideration process. its easy for them to turn you down and hope you don't appeal, as some don't. i always appeal and i tend to feel that knowing that, and especially if ive wone previous appeals, the dwp will hopefully incline towards helping me sooner...to save money.

    ive always said that appealing is part of the application process. 15 years would also count towards a successfull reconsideration i think. i know its stressfull. just try and keep persevering with them...i got support group on appeal...having to appeal seemed, ultimately, to count in my favour.

    it seems trying to get on board with what they want (you back in work) may have gone against you. perhaps they feel poverty will make you work (seeing as you're interested). id get your life back first and appeal for the support group if thats what you feel you need...it may show them that you consider yourself way too unfit for work. sorry no specfic experience of the "mandatory reconsideration process"...perhaps someone else can weigh in on that.
     
  3. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I don't know anything about 'mandatory reconsiderations' but I'd recommend signing up with these guys:

    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/

    There's a small subscription fee (I think it's around £15/year) and I've found their guides invaluable in getting into the ESA Support Group and getting DLA. They really understand how the system works and campaign against the shoddy treatment that DWP like to inflict on the disabled through its assessment schemes. They also have a forum where you can ask specific questions of their experts.

    This was recommended to me by someone else on Phoenix Rising and I wholeheartedly pass on that recommendation!

    Good luck - I'm sorry you're having such trouble getting the benefits you deserve. Shame on DWP.
     
    Kati, Wildcat, anna8 and 3 others like this.
  4. N.A.Wright

    N.A.Wright Guest

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    "Mandatory Reconsideration" is just what happens when you ask them to look at the decision again, without it having to go to a formal appeal - it's just a process where the Department checks on all it's proceedures to make sure they think they're on good ground to stick with the decision they've made. You do need to have some ammunition to get them to think about where they may have got something wrong - have you got or requested a copy of the SA85A form ? that's the report the Health Professional filled out and which should have formed the basis for the decision. If you can find errors in that you can ask for those to be specifically looked at again. If the medical report is sound then you need to look at where the decision maker has failed to pick up on the relevant points of the report. Remember honest mistakes do get made, and (less honestly) there's always the possibility a claim has hit the time out buffer and someone's just ticked the refuse button so the system doesn't snarl up.

    I'd encourage you to at least see what Welfare Rights advice is available to you locally - Citizns Advice Bureau or Local Council supported services can often have very experienced people who wil either support you through the process or at least advise you on what you need to do.
     
    Wildcat, anna8 and Sasha like this.
  5. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    Thks for the replies, guys. Will post more fully later but if anybody else has anything to add it will be appreciated.
     
  6. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    @nokmax76 - The ATOS employees are expected to meet a certain (unrealistic) quota of declines, regardless of actual disability of applicants. From what I recall, they supposedly give 0 points to some of the more obviously disabled cases, so that the patient involved will easily win on appeal, and the employee will still meet their quota.

    It's just a stupid and fucked up game that they're playing. They probably expect you to appeal and to win your appeal.
     
  7. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    i was turned down after failing the medical even though the lady doing it said "i have noted some serious problems". we even had a giggle...she asked me to say if i needed anything so i asked for a cuddle lol, she laughed, so did dad. kind of broke the ice and put us on good terms and might have even counted towards the innapropriate humour the form asked about. it could have been the quota thing, why i was turned down, as i know thats a fact. with me, too, it could have been the fact i had absolutely no doctor support, no supporting letters, nothing, except my word and the medical,,plus medical history...and i'd guessed they needed a second opinion from the appeals board so it wasn't all on them but maybe quota.

    i was up in front of a judge and an experienced doctor and was awarded support group due to "cogent oral evidence"---not bad considering my concentration issues..practically no sleep helps with that for some reason.. fortunately i had a major panic attack and couldn't even be interviewed at first and was offered a home visit, there and then. i declined so as to get it out of the way.
     
  8. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    @manna (first post) Your right. My willingness to get back into work has worked against me. It has always been such a huge part of who I am, as I'm sure it has for others, that I didn't really think of the long-term difficulties of staying in the WRAG.

    @Sasha: thanks for that. I just had a look at their avaliable public info and the forums. Quite helpful. I imagine the guides are helpful too, but a little too expensive for me right now.

    @ N.A Wright: My local CAB is very hit and miss but I like what you said about ammunition. One of the many problems with one-off medical assessments is that it they don't/can't take into account how unstable the illness is or even a condition like PEM. Luckily, I have some medical back-up on this and other issues which I will send in. Means less time studying my World cup wallchart, but there you go :)

    @ Vaentine: didn't know wthere was any kind of quota system but it makes sense. I was thinking they are simply trying to reduce claimants as the categories are set-up to be low scoring and because not everyone will be up to challenging what looks on paper such a sure decision. I hope you're right on the outcome.

    @manna (2ndsecondpost) You did well to win the appeal with no doc support or letters. I don't think the medics were as under pressure to ignore health issues two years ago as they are now (?) so how a doctor could fail you after noticing you had serious problems I don't know.

    I've had two assessments now and when I had the first one, the lady doctor waited at the door and said "I hope things get better for you soon" and looked like she was going to cry! I was the one in pain and I felt like giving her a hug ;-) Anyway, I felt sure I would at least get one type of ESA and I did. No sign of tears on the last one though. Maybe is hould have known....
     
    Sasha likes this.
  9. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    They should (by law) assess you in terms of what you can do reliably and without ill-effect. So if you do something and get PEM, that's an ill-effect. If you can't do it reliably, they should also take that into account. If they don't, you have grounds for appeal.

    I took my case all the way to appeal (I also believe they're operating to a quota and that their initial rejection of my claim was ridiculous) and won the tribunal on paper without even having to turn up.

    Please make sure that you find out about how the system works so that your challenge is focused on the right things. If you can't afford the Benefits & Work sub, your local CAB should be able to help. I wrote to mine and asked them to advise me on the phone (I'm mostly housebound and couldn't have visited their office).

    Good luck!
     
    anna8 and Valentijn like this.
  10. N.A.Wright

    N.A.Wright Guest

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    Check this document - it does make some acknowledgement that the people doing the assessments should take variability into account - http://www.actionforme.org.uk/Resources/Action for ME/dwp-training-doc-for-assessors-on-me.pdf The doc is being discussed in this thread: http://www.actionforme.org.uk/Resources/Action for ME/dwp-training-doc-for-assessors-on-me.pdf and although it's not an ideal presentation of ME, there are some helpful parts to it.

    Did you include a diary with your application ? a week (or ideally longer) showing how you are affected by all the different symptoms on different days and parts of different days would be helpful in getting the decision maker to either acknowledge this aspect wasn't previously taken into account - or actually refer your diary back to ATOS for futher comment.
     
    nokmax76 likes this.
  11. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    i have found that you generally get an indication, if they're gonna award help, from the assessor. ive always known which ones i would pass. even though the lady failed me on the last one, after noting "serious difficulties", im pretty sure she passed that info onto the tribunal. bit hard for her to award help really with zilch supporting info. it was lucky i had the panic attack though. i used to get them when i had asthma and they went when i got of rid of it. panic attacks came back when i got pleurisy 3 years ago so i associate them with weakened lungs not fear. oh plus cold (it was winter). the panic attacks have gone again since using a salt inhalers to cure the pleurisy. 2-3 years ago atos were still being very harsh. there were lots of horror stories about when i went to see them.
     
  12. manna

    manna Senior Member

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    taniaaust1, Valentijn and Sasha like this.
  13. anna8

    anna8 Senior Member

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    Hi basically, you are asking them to reconsider there decision, I did do this but for dla I unfortunately got turned down and had to go to tribunal which would be your next step.

    I would advise you to ask why it has been turned down which is what I should of done, then you can either get better evidence or more information to help them to come to their decision which will be done by a fresh decision maker. I would also tell you to get help from the welfare rights who are excellent they will do a lot of the work for you like write to doctors and consultants for evidence, and like Sasha has said benefit for work guides which you will find on the internet are a must and will give you insight in to how the whole system works!

    Good luck!

    Anna x
     
  14. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    @ N.A Wright That is a VERY helpful link especially for anyone who has an assessment after the date that the document was published (unfortunately not me).

    @Anna they supplied me with a point by point breakdown of why they turned me down. But you are right on getting more info (see below)

    @manna - my apologies. You're right. Just because I didn't get assessed when you did, doesn't mean the ATOS staff were any less harsh in the early days. And I hope to be one of the 25%.

    I have done some research now and all the information out there on the correct way to proceed is a little bit overwhelming. From what I can tell, the system.... sucks. But I think we all knew that ;-) Went to see a welfare person and she backed up N.A wrights advice to write in for a copy of my ATOS health report which I did on Wednesday. It extends the period of asking for a mandatory recon for another two weeks. Will give me time to clear my head and hopefully give me further ammunition.

    Other advice I received from the same welfare rights source, was not to discuss my case further on the net because apparently DWP staff trawl the net for digital info and it can be held against me if I make a foggy slip and mention specific details. It sounded a bit paranoid to me but my brain is mush at the best of times so I think I'll play safe and bow out of this thread until my MR decision is in. Thks so much for all your help and the good luck wishes. See you on other threads...
     
    Sasha likes this.
  15. anna8

    anna8 Senior Member

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    If the welfare rights have advised you to be careful on what you write, well I think you would be wise to listen, better to be safe than sorry!

    Try not to worry, tell the truth and get medical evidence if you can, stating reason why they think you should not work! You have also got the welfare rights behind you now!

    Good luck xxx
     
  16. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    Hello all you beautiful people

    Since I last posted I have been through the worst, most draining, depressing and stressful period since I was struggling with the reality of having to give up work many years ago. The short story is that my mandatory reconsideration appeal was turned down and I have now put in a formal appeal but this can take months to get a hearing.

    The long story is that I spent valuable time and energy compiling a detailed ten page report of my medical history, along with around ten letters of medical evidence. I believed that, by targeting how my health affects me to the criteria used on a point by point basis, it would be impossible for me not to score more points than the 0 I was originally given. I also stated that if analysis of my disabilities alone did not meet the points needed then I would like to be considered under the exceptional circumstances clause as the unpredictable nature of my symptoms means an enforced return to work would do me harm in the long-run.

    I didn’t get any more points and they did not take the clause into account.

    Before those people waiting for their own assessment/appeal decisions run for the hills, there is some good news. Firstly, all the detail and evidence worked – to an extent. It meant my case could not be easily dismissed and I got three separate phone calls from DWP “decision makers” before my file was referred back to Atos so they could get more “advice”.

    Secondly, I’m a walker/talker PWC. One of those “but you don’t look ill” types. And this hampered me hugely at the initial assessment. If you use a chair, have obvious mobility problems, don’t hold good eye contact, mumble, make movements that are not fluid and seem to cause direct pain then you may have more of a chance.

    Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, is the evidence. I have other health issues besides CFS and because of this I have seen various different doctors who often contradict themselves. Without really thinking, I mentioned all the health issues in my questionnaire form and this meant I felt I had to address them all in the report. They all have some relevance to the criteria anyway.

    But this also meant that I had to struggle through mountains of paperwork to find evidence that backed my case without conflicting with other evidence. In the end, I think it would have been better to stick to one or a couple of consistent sources of evidence, concentrating on as few relevant issues as possible. Instead, I threw the kitchen sink at them. It would have hurt if it had hit them, but it’s also easy to avoid.

    Please don’t read me wrong here. My appeal did not fail because of my mistakes. It failed because the new work capability process is simply designed to fail as many people as possible. And the economically-psychopathic policy driving the new ESA process is causing untold grief and distress. However, you have to give yourself every chance to win a reconsideration and I probably didn’t.

    There is more to say but as I stated before, I don’t want to say too much on here because I was told by a welfare rights worker that DWP employees routinely check forums such as these. I don’t want to unwittingly help them turn down other people in future or make a foggy slip that will help them identify me. If you want more details I will be happy to give them in a PM, especially if you are in the process of filling in the form, about to attend an assessment or appealing yourself. Or frightened of amking the switch from ESA to JSA while waiting for your reconsideration notice. I’m not on here much, but will try to check in at least once a week

    Remember though, that anything I say should be backed up with further advice. Perhaps from others on here who have actually won their appeals or the Benefits and Works link which I am constantly being told on and off this forum is the best source of advice out there. I may have to bite the bullet and pay for it now. Maybe that's what I should have done before.

    Meanwhile, this is a very good direct free link from action for ME on how to prepare for ESA reconsiderations and appeals.

    http://www.actionforme.org.uk/Resou...uments/get-informed/esa-appeals-factsheet.pdf

    Especially useful is the appendix which contains the actual work capability assessment form and the points score that can be obtained for each section.

    Bear in mind though, that the DWP will have looked at all the advice given via this link and will have counter-arguments against it. Use it as a guide but please don’t cut-and-paste anything, no matter how pressed for time you are. Good luck.
     
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  17. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Good luck with the appeal. Hope you're doing okay getting through things.
     
  18. AndyPandy

    AndyPandy Making the most of it

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    @nokmax76 So sorry you have had such a bad experience. I wish you all the best for your formal appeal.
     
  19. nokmax76

    nokmax76

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    Hi everyone. Thanks for your good wishes. Good news is I won my appeal about three weeks ago. I was surprised they arranged it so early but I think it's because so many people are winning their appeals that they are having to backdate huge amounts of money in arrears. So the quicker they can get it sorted the less money they potentially have to backdate. I'm still in the ESA work related activity group and I'll have to got through another assessment far sooner than I'd like but at least common-sense prevailed in the end. And hopefully the replacement for the dreaded ATOS will be more sympathetic to all "invisible illnesses".

    Also, this campaign:

    https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-hold-an-inquiry-into-benefit-sanctions-that-killed-my-brother

    (which I signed, and I think they are still accepting signatures) has pressurised the government into holding an independent inquiry into benefit sanctions - the type that hit vulnerable people like us, who are often too unfit to even look for work, let alone hold down a job.

    The bad news is, the whole stressful, time-consuming process has left me so drained that I'm worse than before I was put on Job Seekers Allowance. Given time, I might possibly recover but ATM my DWP paperwork hasn't been sorted out and I still have to jump through the jobseeking hoops of the "deemed fit" assessment. I could get a fit note from my doctor and get the assessment rate for ESA until things are sorted but my GP is away right now and the docs who fill in for her are reluctant to sign any documents that require prior knowledge of the patient.

    But hey, I'd rather be here now than back were I was last time I posted ;).

    If anyone wants more info on the actual appeal process feel free to PM me. There's a limit to what I'm prepared to post here. I'm not here a lot, but I check in once a week or so and I will reply back. If we don't help each other, who will....
     
  20. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Sorry you've had such a shitty time, but good to hear that you got through the tribunal okay. Fingers crossed for you having an easier time with your future assessments. At least you're a bit more sorted out in time for winter, and haven't had to wait the year+ some people do for a tribunal date.
     
    CantThink likes this.

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