The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2
MEMum presents the second article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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Am I entitled to ESA?

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by Cinderella24, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. Cinderella24


    Hi i recentlly been dignosed with suspected cfs\me i am in real bad place rite now not well at all am i intittled to esa longterm
  2. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards Senior Member

    If you're stuck in bed ill and aren't moving forward very quickly (or at all), I suspect you'd have a good chance if i) you don't have more than £6000 savings and 2) you've got a doctor who's prepared to give evidence to the point that you're not going to be much better in the next two years. This, I suppose, will depend on how long you've been ill and what experience s/he's had of the illness - many doctors seem to think it will just vanish if it's ignored.

    The thing about ESA is it isn't so much whether you're entitled to it as to whether you can get it. You'd need to fill out the form well (the ME Association are very good in terms of providing guidelines). If you're weak and can't write for long periods, it might be best to dictate to someone or get some help in writing it up, if that's an option.

    It's as well to get as much guidance as possible about what assessors want to see in the form and also the face to face assessment. If you're really exhaustive on the form and provide evidence from your doctor, you might be able to avoid an assessment altogether, though I'd imagine that would be harder to do for new claims than existing ones. I've never had to do a Face to Face under the ESA regime, so it'd be for others to advise you if it came to that.

    If you can't work without making yourself more ill and you do all this, they should give you the money. And in spite of what you may have read about ESA, the worst of it has now passed in terms of assessments, the real trouble is for people in the Work Related Activity Group or (WRAG), who are at the beck and call of Job Centre Plus and can be sent on courses if it is deemed 'appropriate' (this may not always take into account if someone is well enough to go on them or not).

    WRAG is supposed to be for people who are assessed to be well enough to return to work within the next two years. However, there have been a lot of cases where people who were not approaching fitness were happy to get anything, didn't know what was coming for them and ended up getting sanctioned. Also, others have thought that they would be helped to find work and found that they were simply set up to fail. Ultimately with ME, if you're not on top of it early it tends to drag on for years (sorry), so you should try and get in the long term 'support group' if you can. If you're turned down, the best option is to appeal.

    So in short, yes, you should get some money, but find out as much as possible about the process as you can before you start, get help from people around you if you can and, if you fail or end up in the WRAG, appeal.

    And if anyone's got anything to add, or corrections to make to my well intentioned but doubtless ill-informed post, feel free to speak up!
    taniaaust1 likes this.
  3. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

    You should find the info below helpful - it forms part of my standard MEA reply to queries about ESA.

    I'm afraid it has to be a standard reply because The MEA receives a large volume of queries about cleaning ESA, how to fill in the complex paperwork, and how to appeal when the claim is fused.


    I am responding to your ME Connect email query regarding ESA

    As you will appreciate, we receive a large amount of sometimes quite complex correspondence about DWP benefits and we do not have the funding to employ someone who can deal with DWP benefit queries in the detail that they often require

    So I have put together some basic information below that should be of help

    MEA information leaflets can be ordered through the MEA website shop:, or by using the literature order form in ME Essential magazine

    1 APPLYING FOR ESAThe MEA has a general information leaflet covering ESA as it applies to ME/CFS
    We also have a detailed step-by-step guide to filling in all the paperwork that is involved if you apply for ESA
    Feedback from our members indicates that this MEA guide has been very helpful in making sure that the DWP gets the right information about this illness and how it affects your capacity to work.

    If an application for ESA has not been accepted you can ask the DWP for a reconsideration

    And if you feel you have a good case you should appeal - because there is a very high success rate (currently around 40%) on appeal, especially when you can back up your case with good supporting medical evidence from health professionals and others involved in your care and management

    The MEA has an information leaflet covering appeal procedures

    I have just been involved in the preparation of an Atos training document on fluctuating medical conditions and one of the most important messages is that medical assessors must ask about the degree of fluctuation and variability of symptoms in ME/CFS and that people must be able to perform the WCA tasks in a manner that is reliable, repeatable and safe - to both themselves and to others.

    As you may be aware, we still believe that far too many people with ME/CFS are being refused ESA, or are being placed in the WRAG group when this is not appropriate.

    However, as you may also be aware, we are members of the DWP Fluctuating Conditions Group that has been working with the DWP, and with Professors Malcolm Harrington and Paul Litchfield, for the past five years on trying to improve the way in which claims for ESA are assessed through the Work Capability Assessment

    The FCG has produced wide ranging recommendations for reform of the WCA, including new WCA descriptors - which were assessed in an evidence based review carried out by the DWP. We are now discussing with the DWP, and with Mark Harper MP - Minister for Disabled People, how this work can be taken forward.

    We will be meeting a representative from Maximus, who are taking over the medical assessment contract from Atos in March 2015, with the Countess of Mar at the House of Lords on February 24th 2015

    Overall, the work that we have been doing has resulted in a progressive and significant increase in the number of people being placed in the ESA Support Group. This is reflected in the quarterly statistics produced by the DWP on ESA application outcomes.

    This change also reflects the fact that some of our key recommendations, especially those relating to people being able to carry out WCA tasks in a manner that is repeatable, reliable, safe, and in a timely manner have been accepted by the DWP.

    The FCG report on WCA can be found in the document archive on the MEA website:

    In addition to the information already referred to I have attached an updated version of our 10 key points on ESA applications and appeals:

    Dr Charles Shepherd
    Hon Medical Adviser, MEA
    taniaaust1 and barbc56 like this.
  4. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

    PS: If you are having significant problems with mobility (and it sounds as though you are) and/or care (= looking after yourself >> eating, feeding, washing etc) you might be eligible for another DWP benefit called PIP

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