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Uk incapacity benefit -how the system will cheat you

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Gerwyn, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Gerwyn

    Gerwyn Guest

    I was today officially informed that I was unfit for any work.There are a number of computer generated boxes the assessing Dr has to tick . They deliberately avoid asking questions in certain criterea to minimise the chances of being declared incapacitated.I took notes with me and volunteered answers to questions i was not asked.If I had not done that I would have been passed fit for work.The company running the incapacity benefits are paid to get people off incapacity benefit(which will then almost certainly lose your entitlement to others as well) and bonused according to preagreed targets.It,s very likely that the medical examiners are also bonused in this fashion----I would strongly urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the new criterea and act accordingly to avoid being cheated out of your just entitlement.
     
  2. Advocate

    Advocate Senior Member

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    Is it appropriate to offer congratulations?
     
  3. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Gerwyn, I offer my discongratulations on being unfit for work but my congratulations for being found unfit for work by the DWP, given that you are! It's a complicated world.

    When I was applying for IB and DLA, I studied everything I could on the internet about how to answer the questions and I got in contact with my local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice. Being housebound and unable to get through on the phone, I wrote to to them to ask if they would phone me so I could phone them back, and they did. All this made sure I got my benefits (admittedly I got the DLA on appeal but having read the reasons for them turning me down, they were just making stuff up rather than going by my questionnaire responses so it was easy to get it overturned on appeal).

    I agree, Gerwyn, that people should prepare themselves for a system that isn't geared up to help them. I recommend researching it beforehand, preparing for it as carefully as you would for a job interview, and being persistent in appealing (again, having researched how to do it) if you're turned down. It shouldn't be made so difficult but it is possible to succeed.
     
  4. Knackered

    Knackered Guest

    I've been turned down for DLA too, the doctor who visited me was nice, so I don't think it was his problem. I'm appealing and currently waiting to receive all the information I need from them. Do you have any advice Sasha? I'm stuck in the house most days.
     
  5. Gerwyn

    Gerwyn Guest

    Thanks Advocate and Sasha
    Thank you it is a load off my mind! If I go over my daily"limit" of physical and or cognitive effort I will crash ----there is no way I could work and get away with it. I am considering completing my doctorate but I, m being strongly advised not to do so--It is so frustrating! but I,m being reminded of the years that I had no cognitive function and do I really want to be back there-----He has a way with words my Dr!
     
  6. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi Knackered - sorry to hear you've been turned down for DLA. Every time I've ever applied for it, I've been turned down on the first go and then been awarded it at the highest rate on appeal, which just shows, I think, that getting turned down is just DWP hoping that you won't fight back!

    It's a while now since I did my appeal (they awarded me it for three years before my next review) and I can't remember more than a few specifics. One of the things I kept saying in my application was that I couldn't do any of the activities of daily living repeatedly without ill effect, so e.g. I couldn't lift a pan and then do it again; I couldn't choose when I did any of these activities but had to wait until I had enough energy; and that I always paid a price in worsening of symptoms for almost anything I did. And I made it clear how little of the day the main activities were available to me - i.e. I could walk a total of 10 mins a day but not choosing when and would have to rest afterwards so walking was unavailable to me for 95% of the day.

    But there is much more specific stuff that you need to give them - I really would recommend you to get advice from CAB or the ME Association, who are geared up to advise on this stuff. CAB were very helpful when I wrote to them in agreeing to phone me so I could phone them back, when I had repeatedly failed to get through. You don't have to go to their advice centre for them to help you.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Knackered

    Knackered Guest

    Thanks for the advice.

    I think this sounds about right, when the doctor left me he said "if you don't get it, it isn't because of anything I've written" he could see I was ill. Hopefully everything will go well when I appeal and I'll use your advice.

    Did you go to tribunal or did you get a new decision?
     
  8. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    I've made a number of applications for DLA over the years. One went as far as a tribunal, which I was too ill too attend but the decision still went in my favour. The last-but-one was turned down on first go and then a doctor was sent to assess me in my own home. He actually phoned me later that evening to ask me if I felt I would benefit from having a wheelchair, which was nice of him! After his report, the decision went in my favour. This time around, I just filled in the form and I was granted DLA straight off the bat, not to be reviewed for three years.

    Totally random, in other words!

    One point - I am pretty much housebound (was completely bedbound for some years) and I always, always refuse to attend any DWP appointments. I insist that they deal with me on the phone or visit me at my house. They usually ask for a doctor's note to support my claim that I am not well enough to travel to them and sit through an interview (and indeed I am not). My GP is happy to provide these - I'm often too unwell to go to his surgery and when I do, they let me lie on a couch in a sideroom while I'm waiting so he understands the issues. We each have to make our own decisions about this but I feel that if I were to knock myself out attending a DWP interview on their premises I'd not only make myself more ill but would give them a false impression of what I could do - they wouldn't of course see me resting for hours and hours afterwards. It's usually a bit of a surreal conversation at first - for people who deal with the sick all day long, IB staff seem to have a problem with the concept of "being too ill to attend an interview". But polite insistence has paid off for me.

    ETA - Sometimes the DWP and/or ATOS systems don't allow them to cancel an appointment that they have made for you to attend an interview, even when they agree on the phone that you can't go. They will tell you that you should ignore the letter confirming the appointment. Don't! Write to confirm your phone conversation in which they agreed that you shouldn't attend the interview and note that they have told you to ignore the letter. Twice in this scenario I've received letters later threatening to stop my benefit because of my "failure" to attend interviews and both times I've been able to sort it out immediately by sending a copy of my "conversation confirmation" letter recapping their instructions to me. Get everything documented - it's like defensive driving!
     
  9. froufox

    froufox Senior Member

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    Just to add to what Sasha has said, another idea would be to find out if you have a Welfare Rights Service at your local county or city council - mine was under the county council - ..they're great for helping with benefits applications/appeals and will even come out to your house if you are housebound which was what they did in my case. They really were great and and the officer I saw understood the situation for people with ME and how the system was working against us and was very sympathetic and took me seriously. They can fill in any forms for you or check through your appeal form and make sure it is worded correctly

    For my appeal I also got a lot more letters supporting my case eg from Dr Myhill who have I consulted on and off for years, and test results showing them my very poor mitochondrial function. My GP also made a statement that I couldnt walk very far without a relapse afterwards which she had unfortunately not done in my initial application for DLA so if you can manage to communicate to your GP how disabled you are in terms of being limited in walking or doing daily tasks regardless of your diagnosis (because DLA just assess you on your ability to do things), that would obviously be very helpful. I know tho thats near nigh impossible if you dont have a supportive GP. My mum also wrote quite an emotional letter of support describing how I had been very fit and healthy and how my whole life had changed after developing ME.

    Anyway I dont know what swung it in end but after being turned down in my initial application, which is what I expected, and going through the appeal process, the decision was overturned just prior to my tribunal, which was very lucky so I didnt have to go through that trauma!! I suspect that my GP's statement helped a lot as they are far more likely to take a statement from a GP about someones disability seriously than from a non NHS doctor.

    I agree with Sasha they really do just try and put you off and they turn down many initial applications but many people do succeed on appeal, you really just have to persist and fight for it and describe what you are like on your very worst day.

    Also dont make yourself ill by going along to a tribunal or other kind of hearing, if you are bedbound tell them this and they will have to come and see you at home in bed and then they will see how disabled you are. Of course it also gives the totally wrong impression that you are more abled than you actually are.

    Hope that helps, good luck!!
     
  10. Gerwyn

    Gerwyn Guest

    You are assessed on how you present inthe interview and you only need to do an activity once! to be declared fit If you"can.t do the activity or report problems with bowel continence difficulty walking upstairs 200 metres etc it will be taken at face value by a dr driven by a computer programme

    This is no longer a medical in the old sense of the word. I,m afraid that the only way to "win" is to use their system against them bearing in mind that they are attempting to manipulate and reduce benefit claims at any cost and by any means they deem neccessary
     
  11. valia

    valia Senior Member

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    I was recently granted DLA, without having any medical exam so I must have done something right.

    Cognitive dysfunction is a real problem for me, I couldnt begin to fill in the form, none of the questions seemed relevant to me, I got dizzy looking at it.

    I wrote separate notes describing in detail exactly how I feel when I attempt to go out for example, starting with dressing etc, first few steps, increasing pain, dizziness, loss of balance. Another note describing my difficulties taking a shower, pain, cant raise arms, fainting, having to go to bed straight after with wet hair, sometimes not rinsed properly, that sort of thing.
    Another explaining why it is impossible for me to cook and so on...
    The CAB filled in the form for me and attached my notes.

    So get help with the form, but make sure you read it through and make your own changes if necessary.
    Add as much extra info as you can about your symptoms and how they affect daily living
     
  12. valia

    valia Senior Member

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    Sorry, I see that you have already been turned down so you have been through the process with forms etc, I didn't read it properly,

    Ah well, at least it proves my cognitive dysfunction
     
  13. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    Don't get taken in by smiling friendly doctor. They do it on purpose to make you feel relaxed and open up so that you forget to restrain yourself to conserve energy and hopefully will get animated, which they will pressume is your normal state.

    I was always told to present myself as though on a bad day. What I would do was to tire myself out the day before or stay awake the night before - not to fool them but not to take the chance that I would be on a good day.

    It all comes down to cutting vegetables and lifting a pan filled with water for the lower rate unless it has changed. My mobility was based on reactions to traffic fumes. There is a man in the Uk who helps you to do the appeal and comes to your town but I am sorry i forgot who is he and who he works for - but it is some charity. He is an ex solicitor. I do hope he is still doing it - I will let you know if I remember.
     
  14. Galena1

    Galena1

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    Many Thanks for the warm welcomes.

    More on ATOS – Nobody should be under any illusion that ATOS are contracted by the UK Government for any other reason than to reduce benefit expenditure. My GP, one of the good guys, attended a local conference, organised by ATOS, at which they were ‘signing up’ doctors to carry out medicals on their (ATOS’s) behalf. It was made perfectly clear that the doctor’s main focus of these medicals was to reduce, or preferably eliminate altogether, benefit payments to claimants. My GP was disgusted and left the conference, wanting no part of it. Clearly, some doctors are more than happy to collect their 30 pieces of silver from ATOS.

    I would be interested to know if patients that have experienced one of these pathetic medicals actually got in to see the examiner (box-ticker!) at the time their appointment was arranged. My appointment was over 1 hour later than it should have been and this seems to be a common problem for other patients, whatever their illness, from various parts of the UK.

    Without wishing to appear paranoid! There was one of those 'dark domes', that frequently conceal CCTV cameras, positioned on the wall of the ATOS medical centre open-plan waiting area. This dome seemed ill-positioned as a general security measure, having very limited coverage of other adjacent areas (corridors etc). Given the lengthy waiting times of myself and the other patients present it did raise the question of whether patients were being observed prior to the actual medical. As I say, I do not wish to appear paranoid but, given ATOS’s clear mandate to reduce the numbers claiming benefits, I treat everything that they do and say with suspicion.
    The medical itself –The medic wanders into the waiting area and calls your name and you then follow them to the 'examination room'. In my case, the door was wedged open and the examiner made no attempt to close it. I suspect that this was intentional and merely to test my 'mobility/flexibility'. I just forced the door open a little more and kicked the wedge out of the way and closed the door. Given the close proximity of the examination room to the waiting area, it would have been easy for others waiting to overhear any conversation between myself and the examiner.
    I started by asking the examiner if she had any specialist knowledge of ME. Her response was,
    “ I am experienced in a wide variety of illnesses”. Mmm...not very encouraging. The examiner asks a variety of questions based on the forms that you have previously completed and inputs your responses directly into their computer. The examiner clearly tried to 'steer' my responses to suit what she wanted and on several occasions I had to be very pushy to ensure that I got my message across, for example...
    EXAMINER – “Can you raise your hands above your head?”
    ME - “Yes, I can raise my hands above my head, but only a couple of times”.
    EXAMINER – “Yes, but you can do it”.
    ME - “Yes, as I have already explained, I can do it, but only a couple of times, and I expect this fact to be included in your report”. (I’m guessing that there is space on the examiner’s screen to include additional comments.)
    I requested a copy of the report but was informed that, as the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) were paying for the examination, this was not permitted.
    As the patient, you have no access to what is entered on the computer by the examiner. In my opinion, a copy of the medical report should be printed and signed by the patient to ensure that it correctly records the examination process and all questions and responses. You are awarded points based upon your answers to the questions and a perfunctory physical examination, the number of points will form the basis for entitlement to benefits and at what level. The examination results are forwarded electronically to the DWP where a ‘decision maker’ gives your claim for benefit the ‘thumbs up’, or down! There are more details on this points system on the Internet and I will find the link and post it here when I can.

    Also, pinned to the wall of the waiting area was a notice that, basically, forbids the discussion of any of the ATOS examination processes/procedures with a third party. I can’t recall the exact wording but it was such that it was made to appear as a legal warning. I investigated this further and discovered that this sign, and therefore ATOS, actually has no legal power to ‘gag’ patients, as it was clearly intended to do.

    If I recall anything else I’ll post again.
    Kindest Regards -
    G1
     
  15. willow

    willow Senior Member

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    My DLA doctor appeared 'nice' or 'nice-ish'.

    The report was over 50% untrue.

    When i queried he lied freely and generally tried to twist the situation to clear himself.

    I'd done my homework. Complicated to explain why it didn't work but the whole assessment procedure seemed very inflexible and with my health constraints there is no way it would be anything other than very damaging for me. I've told the DWP this but it was easy for them to dismiss my points.(I'm largely unable to converse.)

    But I've pledged to revisit this when I'm well enough.

    What a laugh eh- having to find a way to become well enough to survive benefit assessment :-(
     
  16. Diva55

    Diva55 Member

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    I got a copy of my report. I rang up the DWP and requested it.

    Although the examiner fills in a ticklist they have to write up a following report which takes time. So you should ring up the DWP and ask for a copy.

    They have to give you a copy as it's down to the freedom of information act which changed with medical records. You can request a full copy of your medical records. I always ask for copies of any tests I have.

    However you may not like what they have written in the report.

    I agree that they monitor you in the waiting room - I was kept waiting for ages and no-one else came out of the room before me.

     
  17. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I've heard that the DWP doctors are pretty consistent liars. They keep their jobs that way.

    The way disability benefits are handled is rediculous, but to be fair to them, it's a difficult thing to do well. All the more reason to put more money into research!
     
  18. willow

    willow Senior Member

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    I agree it's a difficult job, but lying to get the result you'll be paid for doesn't sound like someone trying to do their job with integrity.

    Sad thing is, if it's not us personally it will be some other poor critter with a different disease or condition.

    I'm interested in why we are so harsh on those in really difficult sitautions, why we almost presume them to be insincere, undeserving etc etc. It's the same sort of mindset that considers us to be pysch cases and is unable to see and accept the physiological evidence of disease.

    And pysch treatments for ME/CFS is something us Brits seem to be prolific generators of, more so than other countries. Is that a reflection of a less compassion, trust, empathy amongst UK health professionals, amongst Brits generally or is it a fluke?
     
  19. Galena1

    Galena1

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    Thanks to everyone for their responses, particularly Diva55's reference to Freedom of Information, I'd missed this option!
    Some of these problems arise from Labours enthusiasm to reduce the unemployment statistics. If you receive Incapacity Benefit you are not included in the jobless total and many purely unemployed claimants were moved over to IB on the flimsiest of 'poor health' excuses. Suddenly the UK Government woke up to the fact that 2.5 million people were claiming IB and it was costing massive amounts of money. The order came down from 'on high' that this number was to be reduced by 1M asap. The figure of 1M was just a 'ball-park' number snatched from nowhere and based upon, basically, nothing. Even the Trade Union Congress, amongst many others, have questioned the basis for how the Government can suddenly decide that there are 1M people claiming benefits they may not be entitled to, without some sort of sensible reasoning or investigation. The sad fact is that genuinely ill people are now 'lumped in' with all the scroungers and are now suffering the consequences.
    In my opinion, the UK is a country that often lacks compassion for the suffering of its own. The frequent assumption is that virtually anyone on benefits must be 'working the sytem', particularly if there are no easily visible symptoms. I'm sure we could all give examples of people that are doing precisely this.
    When I appealed against the withdrawal of my DLA, years ago, (following a home medical) I was sent a photocopy of the 'doctors' handwritten report. The contents of the report were so misleading that I questioned if it, the report, actually related to me! Even the fact that I had opened the door for the doctor when he arrived at my home had been noted, and clearly counted as a 'negative' with regards to my application.
    Willow - As we know, all too well, the very nature of ME dictates that some days we just don't function as well others. For these so called 'doctors' to, effectively, take advantage of such a disability is unacceptable. Definitely need some serious non-psycho based research.
     
  20. Diva55

    Diva55 Member

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    I was told by someone who worked for IB that you should NOT take any care with your appearance when going for an assessment - no makeup, no hair styled, no jewellery, old creased clothes.

    Because apparently if you take care with your appearance you can't be ill! I always make an effort whenever I go out to try & look "normal" as it makes me feel somewhat better & part of my former world.

    Also you should appear depressed as that adds to the points system.

    After spending days / weeks filling in the form beforehand with plenty of backup information on good and bad days and how it affects you - this is completely ignored by the the assessor who claims to be an expert then asks purely yes/no questions & will not allow you to explain how things change on a daily or even hourly basis.
     

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