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ESA Reassessment - Still being processed 6 months on.

SMW83SMW83 Posts: 89Member Courageous
Hi,

I was reassessed for PIP in July 2016 subsequent to which my benefits were cut substantially.

After much wrangling and having to take the decision to appeal, in November 2016 the appeals court ruled in my favour and my benefits were reinstated.

In December I received notification that I was now to be reassessed for ESA, returning the completed forms and medical evidence in early December (please note over the next 2 months I was also contacted on 4 separate occasions, all for different reasons, advising that I was to also be reassessed for PIP. These were all eventually stopped with 'excuses' such as computer glitch, erroneous and human error amongst other reasons).

It is now almost 6 months since returning the forms and on contacting both the DWP and ATOS directly I am told it is 'being processed'.

Can anyone advise if it is common practice for it to take almost 6 months to process my reassessment especially considering an extensive medical evidence package was sent with the forms? If not can anyone advise what action to take.

I have now in essence been fighting for my benefits for almost a year now with this taking a tremendous toll on my health, not being able to recuperate during this time and in turn, being reliant on benefits for longer owing to the DWP's actions.

Thanks in advance.

Replies

  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,687Member Pioneering
    Hi SMW83

    To my knowledge most Work Capability Assessments are being completed much quicker than this. It is a very stressful process and i'm sorry to hear it is affecting your heath. Unfortunately there is no legal remedy for tackling delays but I would suggest you make a complaint which you can email to [email protected]. Make sure you put formal complaint in the subject. You might like to also complain to the DWP via the benefit office processing your claim.

    David
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • SMW83SMW83 Posts: 89Member Courageous
    @BenefitsTrainingCo Thanks for your reply. 

    Subsequent to my complaint I have been advised that a decision was reached mid April that I had been awarded ESA for 12 months.

    Although I understand they are different benefits can you advise why I would only be given such a short award when my PIP award is until September 2020? 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,687Member Pioneering
    Hi SMW83,

    You are right in saying that ESA and PIP are different benefits and therefore have different rules, different Decision Makers and medical services dealing with each one. Therefore they are able to make different decisions about the length of time different benefits are awarded. You should make your concerns known about the differences in length of awards to your MP (or prospective MP!).
    Can I ask if you have received written notification that you have been awarded ESA and that you have been placed in the same 'group' (either work related activity group or support group) as you were in previously.?
    A sneaky trick that I have spotted recently by the DWP is for the ESA re-assessment to take place, somebody is then contacted by phone or informed when they phone to ask what is happening, that they have been 'awarded ESA' when actually they have been moved from the support group to the work related activity group.
    I hope that all is well and that your decision is the same as your previous assessment, however, if you have not had the decision confirmed in writing then please ask for it asap so you confirm that you award is as it should be.
    Please come back if you need any further assistance,
    Laura
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • SMW83SMW83 Posts: 89Member Courageous
    @BenefitsTrainingCo I remain in the support group but have not received a letter of notification of this.

    I was today called by a 'case manager' at the DWP who called me regarding my complaint yet who could/would not give me a response to any of the issues I raised, either saying they were unable to comment or that another department would have to answer it.

    I intend to contact my new MP (with my current one no standing for reelection) with regards to the catalogue of errors made by the DWP which has meant I have been fighting for my benefits for almost a year.
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,687Member Pioneering
    edited May 2017
    Hi SMW83,

    Unfortunately in my experience it isn't unusual for people to wait many months for an initial assessment, but my colleagues are right than on reassessment it is usually quicker. There's also the fact that you provided lots of medical evidence, so an actual assessment which you attend is arguably not necessary - and it does sound as if they may have made a decision based on your evidence. But they did take a long time to do it.

    As Laura comments, until you have a written decision confirming that you are in the support group I would be cautious, but hopefully that is the outcome. 

    That leaves your outstanding complaint about the time taken. If you haven't been given an adequate response, then maybe it is time to give them a deadline (for example, two weeks) and explain, in writing, that if you do not hear from them by then you will take it to the next level of the complaints system.

    I fully agree with your plan to contact your new MP. Whilst it is worth separating out the problems with the two benefits, the fact remains that many people are unnecessarily reassessed just as you have been, causing huge amounts of stress and wasting public money. Then there's the mistakes and computer glitches you mention, which just shouldn't happen - the service is often not fit for purpose and that is shameful. I hope your new MP, whoever they may be, is sympathetic to this.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • SMW83SMW83 Posts: 89Member Courageous
    @BenefitsTrainingCo Thank you for your reply.

    Firstly, I still have not received written confirmation of the decisions in spite of it being almost 2 months since the decision was reached and since requesting written confirmation. Can you advised what action I should take regarding this? 

    Also can you advise if it is common practice for your local Job Centre to call you to see if there has been a change in your circumstance? I received said call yesterday and on requesting explanation as to why I was receiving this call was advised it was routine. I advised that I have been in the Support Group for over 3 years and never received such call previously but the statement said call was commonplace was reiterated. Is this the case or is it further proof as to my belief I am being 'harassed' by the DWP for raising concerns at their conduct with my MP? 
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Posts: 2,687Member Pioneering
    Hello SMW83

    I am concerned that it is not clear which group of ESA you have been placed in, despite a decision being made 2 months ago. I would be tempted to contact ESA by phone to clarify this point. The ESA contact number is 0345 608 8545. The call center should have this information on their screen. They should also be able to see the decision made in April 2017, and re-send the decision letter to you (if a letter was sent in the first place). 

    If you have no joy, then it is  a further compliant.  The complaint being specifically in regard to written confirmation of the April 2017 decision.  The complaint letter should be clearly headed complaint and be addressed to the ESA benefit office as detailed in any ESA letter you have recently received. Please post again if this is not successful. 

    For your information, I have also put a link to the DWP complaints procedure below:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/complaints-procedure 

    I have not heard of a Job Center contacting people to see if there has been a change of circumstances, but this does not mean that it is something that the DWP occasionally do. 

    I can only add my voice of support to you contacting your MP on this issue. 

    Maria
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • SMW83SMW83 Posts: 89Member Courageous
    @BenefitsTrainingCo As per my post above, it is my belief I am being harassed by the DWP for highlighting thier malpractices to my MP (having been contacted around 10
    occasions regarding change in circumstances, requesting I reapply for benefits etc, over the past 6 months.)

    I have today been contacted by a Compliance Officer who has accessed my bank account and contacted me to question payment paid into my account in December 2016 which was funds loaned to me by family after my benefits had been reduced substantially and I could no longer afford to cover outgoing after a number of months living on minimum payments from the DWP.

    Firstly can you advise if they are legally allowed to access my bank account? If so I would question the validity of them questioning payments made into
    my account in excess of 6 months ago which again leads me to believe they are unfairly targeting me owing to highlighting thier malpractice.

    This ceaseless onslaught from the DWP has been ongoing for over a year now and I am at the point where I  considering relinquish my benefits in spite of having a genuine entitlement which will leave me in an untenable situation.


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