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UK: ESA tribunal - should I get a representative?

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Sasha, Nov 3, 2012.

  1. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I'm appealing a ludicrous decision to place me in the ESA WRAG instead of the Support Group and have just been notified that my appeal has been denied and it's going to a tribunal.

    I'm not physically capable of attending a tribunal but I have managed to write an articulate and reasoned response to the rejection of my appeal. The rejection consists of just flat contradicting my and my GP's description of what I can do and even lying about DWP's own evidence (a bit weird because that evidence is included in the pack that goes to the tribunal).

    I contacted CAB to ask if they could represent me at the tribunal and they have referred me to a legal charity who do this sort of thing, for me to phone on Monday.

    My question: given that I know my own case backwards and forwards and have expressed it in writing, do I have anything to gain by getting a rep or am I risking them stuffing something up if they don't read the papers carefully enough and misrepresent my case to the tribunal? Better to have a rep or no rep, given that I can't be there to correct them?

    I gather that phone tribunals aren't possible (I asked and was told only videoconferencing with a video bloke in your house is possible which seems bizarre and also uncopeable-with for me). But is that true? Has anyone tried it? I'd struggle to do even that, given my cognitive & memory problems but am wondering. I'm conscious that the success rate of cases where people turn up to represent themselves is supposed to be double that of other cases but maybe it's a self-selecting bunch of success-likely people who go along.

    :ill:
     
  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I think that it's quite unlikely that you'll be able to have someone attend for/with you, but I've heard that it is helpful to have these sorts of services send a letter, just because the DWP/Tribunal service will then be more likely to take you seriously. You could ask to be sent a copy of any letter they wrote, so that you could send it on to the DWP after having read it through?

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. (On the plus side... a lot of people who are very seriously ill are even being turned down from WRAG, and I've heard that most DWP disability advisor now recognise that those patients sent to WRAG are normally too ill to be able to do any sort of work, so WRAG is normally not anything like what it is claimed to be. The whole system is completely stupid and dishonest, but at least you aren't facing a complete loss of all income).

    Good luck with everything. Let us know how it goes.
     
    taniaaust1, Valentijn and Sasha like this.
  3. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks, Esther - that's a good point.

    Attending any sort of WRAG is out of the question for me and I've no intention of even attempting it if they find against my appeal. I'm fortunate that I don't depend on ESA for income (just NI contributions) but I want to win my case because DWP's treatment of the sick makes me so angry and I want to add to the tribunal statistics showing how many people win against them on appeal.

    I really don't think the UK can hold its head up as a civilised country with this going on. So many people in the WRAG have died - 1,100 the last I saw. So much for being fit to prepare to work.
     
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  4. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    It's almost worth taking it to tribunal just to make life harder for the DWP.

    Just one other quick thing:

    I've heard that a lot of WRAG things are now being done over the phone, as they recognise that people placed in WRAG are often not well enough to attend interviews. It does all seem a bit arbitrary though, and there is a chance than one can be placed under the control of a real bastard. I've not been through the system yet, so am only speaking about what I've read.

    It does seem that a lot of people working on the front-line have had to accept how broken the system is, and are now trying to work around this, so it can end up being less bad than it should be, and was when they started implementing things. It still places a lot of sick and disabled people at the mercy of the prejudices of random DWP workers though.
     
  5. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Totally agree - I'd do it even if I didn't stand to get my NI contributions credited. DWP need shaming.

    Interesting! I still don't want to go through the farce, though. My understanding is that those of us getting contribution-based ESA will lose it after a year regardless of what we do, and a year's lost NI contributions isn't worth that much to me at this point. I just don't want to collude in their idea that if someone doesn't reliably have the energy for self-care, as I don't, it's OK to place any kind of activity burden on them at all. I'd rather be able to wash that day or get a meal when I'm hungry than talk to DWP. I can't imagine what meaningful WRA would even look like, for me. The only adaptation an employer could make for me would be to not mind if I don't turn up for the next twenty years.
     
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  6. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

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    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    Our government only responds to suicide bombs/slaughter, being caught with their hands in the cookie jar AND only when other MPs haven't done the same so there's no "circling the wagoons", or caught with their purple maggot in an underage rentboy, or the tabloids yelling about something.

    one of the most bloody awful, stupid and depressing things I ever heard was the ex-leader of the main, moderate, non-violent northern irish national party, talking about a meeting with a senior British government person.
    (paraphrased)
    The moderate MP asked why the hell had the government not listened ot them, worked with them? Because the moderates had been so marginalized by the governemnt, they had less support in their own community, thus driving more folk into the service of those scumbag terrorists
    because they hadn't been blowing folk up there was less need/incentive to deal with the moderates, said the british government person
    this left the moderate politician gobsmacked and upset. No damn wonder he was upset, sigh.
    Our own government's blockheadedness increased the violence.

    in other words, the UK government makes many of the problems that harm it's people.
    there's an ancient line of thought, turns up often throught time/place, that there are few things more dangerous than a "self fulfilling prophecy"
    e.g you believe one group of people are evil maniacs, or thieves, you behave badly towards them based on that belief and well...trouble ensues! You've fulfilled your own belief.
    So,t he UK government creates crap because of it's own attitudes and otulooks.
    As I noted before, thre centuries ago, policies of the UK government, lead to the eventual foudnation of Al-Qeda!

    Sasha, I wish you well with your dealings with these nazi scumbag proxies, sigh. Dread having to deal with them myself :/
    I preffer an honest evil in yer face, this verminous cowardly crap is like being suffocated by a giant inflatable ballon (like "Rover" from "The Prisoner"). All designed to be "punvture proof", keeps their hands clean, kill off the unproductive who dont' vote for them, make a nice new scam for their buddies to have megarich CEO jobs....

    Neither violence nor traditional means of protest work/acceptable, as the sods have been actively subverting all forms of normal democractic give and take.
    Revolution is the only answer, not the mad bolshevik crap, just more of the "generla populace has had enough and throwing all the useless tossers in Parliament out onto the street" because all they are is "little men", they deserve contempt and for some of them, fair trial
    we need to govern ourselves like adults, no more stupid "popularity contests". Who the sodding hell wants a "popular" leader...or surgeon...or plumber? seriosuly be as well picking folk at random, 1 term, no extremists/criminals, make yer country better, no more inumanity, no more wars, no more denying science.
    Fat chance. And so...we get ATOS, and all kinds of other evils done, supposedly, in our name

    One day the sons of bitches will have the GALL to put up a monument to the "Dead of ATOS" and they will say "lest we forget!" and have it carved in stone...and pigeons will shit on it for that is all such is worth. :/
    Time after time...after time...after time....memorials are nice for the focus of the bereaved, but they are cheap window dressing for the scuzzballs to buy silence so the cna plot more bullshit.
     
  7. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks, Silverblade - will just have to see how it goes.
     
  8. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Just had an interesting conversation with someone from the local free-service law centre, who told me that they're so snowed that they're having to prioritise who they rep (not me but fair enough, my circumstances are OK). However, they did give me some advice on the phone.

    What was interesting is that the guy said that although non-represented cases at tribunal are less likely to be successful, it tends to be the weaker cases that aren't represented so they're a self-selecting sample. So if you can't attend, it needn't necessarily affect your chances. I described my circumstances and evidence and he said I'd almost certainly win.

    So, I'm going paper-only, which is a relief because I have run out of energy to make any more of an effort! :)
     
  9. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    So sorry to hear that you are going throu that Sasha. Best luck with it all.
     
  10. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks, Tania - I'm really fortunate that it won't be a disaster if they don't find in my favour, and I'm lucky I'm familiar with bureaucracy and can navigate all this stuff.

    I feel really sorry for the people in worse situations with this. It can literally be life or death for them because of the stress on top of their health condition and the fact that they'll have zero income if they fail. It's only dumb luck that that's not my situation.
     
  11. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Update! Just got a letter saying my appeal has been upheld and that I've been placed in the Support Group.

    At this point I'd have been hugely surprised if I hadn't been but good to know - one less thing to worry about and a big fat raspberry to DWP and Atos. Shame on them.

    The decision says that I shouldn't be reassessed for another year. Am I really going to have to go through this every year? Argh...

    Still, good news, and it shows that if you have a strong case on paper, not being able to attend the tribunal isn't the case-killer it's made out to be.
     
  12. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Thanks for letting us know Sasha, and 'congratulations'. I've been just assuming I'll eventually have to put up with being in the WRAG, but maybe I should prepare for more of a fight.

    I regularity of the reassessments is a bit ridiculous.
     
  13. Shell

    Shell Senior Member

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    Glad you got a sensible outcome. I just look at our country with shame these days. How can we treat people in such a scummy way?
     
  14. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I definitely would, if you think you can stand the paperwork (and I'm not minimising the stress that can be involved in having to document the dreary extent of your life-sucking disability).

    I think that people can get discouraged by the unequivocal, flat-sounding 'no' that they get from DWP at every stage of the process. I think it's all designed to be discouraging and to cover the fact that if you get to tribunal with a reasonable case, you'll win. They're just praying that people won't fight.

    A lot of what I did was just repeat what I had already said, because what I said in the first place would have got me straight into the Support Group if DWP had actually (a) read it and (b) assessed it fairly. And that's just a cut-and-paste job.
     
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  15. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I agree - the government's treatment of the disabled, and its campaign to have us look like a bunch of malingerers in the last few years has been a disgrace. I think we've lost our claim to being a civilised country, while people are dying - dying! - in the WRAG group.
     
    Shell likes this.
  16. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    Hi Sasha.

    I have had two tribunal appeals and 'won' both within 6 months of each other. One ESA and one DLA. To be honest - I struggled and appeared at court myself. I think it helped. I know what you're saying and of course if you are really quite poorly then you can't.

    Simply, I had my parents to drive me and then did the answering of questions myself actually in court. They were not involved and stayed in the car.

    I recall the retired surgeon who was on the panel saying 'What were the chances of you appearing in person today?' Can't remember my answer but it was probably 50/50. Seemed to help whatever it was :)

    I have heard people meet with some success when they have their carers with them in court and who's testimony is asked for or that they might accept your written testimony on it's own and you can forfeit the appearance.

    For my last appeal (DLA) I had written a summary of things - how bad it is to manage on my own and how essentially I can't - threw in some good stuff I thought about my life before and how I had tried studying, and working along the way with various degrees of success - and they didn't have time to read it! :)

    Anyway it went on my file. Point is that as per usual it is about you. And your ability to answer questions as well as your ability itself are what is being assessed. So 'real-life' examples are asked for.

    I never really looked at what to do if I couldn't attend because I was determined to be there so it was relevant - sorry.

    Hope it goes well for you xx
     
  17. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Thanks Firestormm - I think you must have missed my post today where I said I'd just heard I'd won! :)

    Glad you won both yours. I think that if you can survive the process it's worth going but if you can't, you shouldn't be discouraged.

    I've got my DLA renewal application in now - I'm hoping that doesn't have to go through the same farce! But if it does, I'll still win... :D
     
  18. Firestormm

    Firestormm Guest

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    Aww nuts! I'm always paying attention to the nonsense and not what's important :)

    Congratulations x
     
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  19. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    OMG.. I cant believe they are going to be putting people throu being reassessed yearly. Its so terrible what is being done to people in your country.

    Anyway.. congrats
     
  20. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Particularly annoying as the whole application and appeal process began in March, so I've already had 9 months of it this year. I could do with a longer rest! :confused:

    Thanks for the congrats, though!
     

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