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Advice on ESA medical
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# 1
vikingsnail
Old 23-01-2012, 1:10 PM
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Default Advice on ESA medical

Hi everyone - I've got a medical assessment for ESA tomorrow, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience in this and could offer me any advice.

I had my last medical about 18 months ago, and that was a very negative experience. The 'doctor' clearly didn't listen to a word I had said - in his report, there were downright lies (things I had never said, not even bent truths). He also got some obvious facts wrong - for example he wrote I was a male (clearly not!) amongst other things. He was quite rude, and of course I was knocked back. I appealed his decision, and it was overruled about a year later and I got ESA back.

I'm off to the same place tomorrow, and I'm terrified I will get the same doctor. I don't know what's best to do - on one hand, I'd be tempted to say I request another appointment with a different doctor, as he got it so wrong last time. But I'm concerned that this will just result in me being told 'go to the appointment or we'll stop your money'. What do you think?

I know I haven't got it in me to appeal any decision again. Even though I know I'm no way fit for full time work, the year plus of weekly sick notes and feeling like everything's on hold .. I don't think I can do it again.

Also, how long does it usually take to receive a decision after a medical?

Many thanks!
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# 2
DanielClark
Old 23-01-2012, 1:46 PM
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well, from my experience when I went to one supporting a friend, the first thing you need to do, is understand that it's not a "medical assessment" as such.

when my friend went for his last year (still to this day awaiting an appeal date), he was told it wasn't a medical assessment, but a work capability assessment. in a nutshell, they are not testing you for what you can't do, but for what you can. I personally think it's wrong when you are overlooking what people can't do. I'm all for testing for what can be done, but not at the expense of what can't.

they will probably ask you first off how your illness affects your day to day activities, the examiner will also more than likely come across as friendly, chatty and caring. bare in mind at all times that these people are wolves in sheep's clothing, they are not caring and considerate for your benefit, but theirs. they will want to put you in a false comfort zone, while judging you on your every word and action.

then when the "friendly chat" is over, the examiner put all that info aside as he moved onto the real reason for the medica..... sorry, the work capability assessment.

my friend was told to do an array of simple things, ranging from bending to touching his knees, to grasping the examiners forefinger/middle finger on both hands with his own hands.

these are the sorts of things almost everyone would be able to do to some extent.

the second thing you need to be aware of, is that it's not the examiner that makes the decision. once the report has been compiled, it is sent to someone else, who has no medical training at all, who just puts ticks into a computer program to come up with what will more than likely be 0 points.

as for any medical evidence you might have, don't take it as read that it will be considered.

again, from the experience I picked up, the expert opinions of consultants, GP's etc in the form of letters were just placed to one side when handed to the "health care professional" without being looked at, and when the result came back, the box that stated that they had taken medical evidence into account when they came to their conclusion was not ticked.

of course, this is my only experience with ATOS, and I'm sure there are people who have had positive experiences, but from what I can gether from online research, the negatives massively outweigh the positives.

either way, I think it would be a good idea to start looking past the examination itself and start thinking about the appeal in earnest.

better to be prepared than go in there with an overly high expectation and end up being totally disappointed and dejected.
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# 3
rogerblack
Old 23-01-2012, 3:12 PM
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My assessment was polite and the doctor was helpful.
Assessments vary.
I would say to secretly record the interview, using a phone or something.
This is not against the law, but is against their policy, and they will terminate the interview and you will not get any money when appealing if they realise you are doing this.

This gives you a reference as to what's being said, and can be used in a later appeal to the tribunal.
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# 4
Guys Mom
Old 23-01-2012, 4:18 PM
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Just what I was about to suggest either take a friend with you or record the whole interview. Be VERY aware that the whole point of this is to get 93% of people off ESA.

I took part in one in December and my whole world fell about my feet last week when my ESA was revoked.. along with my housing benefit and council tax - no Im not a sponger after 37 years of working full time I now have contracted aggressive Rheumatoid Arthritis and just cant work because of this awful illness. So now I have to go through the system of asking for reconsideration and then the appeal. With this decision to cancel my ESA they also terminated ANY monies so from 6 days prior to recieving my letter all of my benefits were stopped !! hello my bills dont stop comming in - I was wondering about my human rights, do I have any where this is concerned...

The lady doing my 'interview' was very nice and pleasant but as DanialClark states they are judging you in every word and action. The supporting medical letters sent in by myself were missing from her file .. and on reading the Medical Assessment she wrote about me (received Saturday) she had buried the Rhemutoid Arthritis way down in the list of problems only highlighting a stomach upset I had had .. and in her summing up of me decided that, in her words, 'she likes to watch daytime tv and surf the internet' how dam patronising can you get...

In a nutshell BE VERY AWARE that this is not a happy little chat you are going to it is a one hour grilling by a very practiced interviewer whose mission it is to 'fail' as many as they can to keep to the quota.

Good luck.
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# 5
kaya
Old 23-01-2012, 4:29 PM
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My friend went to an ATOS medical 2 years ago and they failed him, he appealed, it took 18 months and the re-instated his money with backpay, he also went to one last week at the same place again and they passed him unfit to work with flying colours , he openly admits there is nothing wrong with him and he could go back to work tomorrow if he chose too(claiming for depression and anxiety) , i am not interested in any moral judgements and comments and won't be returning to this thread to view them so please don't waste your time , my point is that the system is clearly floored and not fit for purpose , so to anyone who is genuinly entitled to benefits please dont give up because they fail you or you had to go to tribunerals, if he can get them when he has no entitlement then you can too !
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# 6
outtawork
Old 23-01-2012, 4:34 PM
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I had an Atos medical in December and the nurse wrote I could get off the exam couch on my own, not likely as she had to help me, plus she omitted that I fall asleep if I'm on the bus going home and had to be woken by the driver quite often.Also the College course I am having trouble concentrating so I don't expect to pass, but it helps to stretch my brain a bit and gives me something to look forward to.She missed off the meds list Omega 3 fish oil.I will be appealing on those grounds as I have obstructive sleep apnoea & Osteo arthuritus in my knee.
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# 7
vikingsnail
Old 23-01-2012, 4:47 PM
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Thankyou everyone for all your advice. It's a horrible system - I'm 21 and have been out of work for a few years due to ME (which alot of doctors still have problems recognising anyway). At the moment I've started doing small amounts of volunteer work (about an hour a week) to try to build stamina, and I'm looking into a college course further in the year. Just being out for an hour is enough to exhaust me, and I know I'm not fit for full time work, but it seems you have to be practically dying before they even consider you to be unfit for work. It winds me up because I'm trying my best to get to a place where I can work - I want to earn my living, and it's not like it's a life of luxury on what they give you.

One of my biggest issues is trying to be positive I think! I'm so used to trying my best, making the most of what little I can do, and trying not to moan about my condition too much - which is the exact opposite of what you need to do for the assessment. But I've just got to bear in mind that they're not nice doctors who want to help.

At my last assessment, the doctor didn't actually examine me or ask me to do anything atall. He just asked me about my day to day life. I hate questions like 'can you walk 100m?', because he can see I clearly can from the waiting room to the assessment room, but he doesn't see the affect that will have on me. And of course when I explained this, he took no notice.

I'm not sure about recording the interview, it seems a bit risky.. but my dad will be coming with me. Would it be a bad idea to refuse the assessment and request a different doctor if I get the same idiot as last time?
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# 8
Muttleythefrog
Old 23-01-2012, 6:34 PM
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Some good advice above but to be honest it seems you've decent experience anyway of how things can play out. The assessment is software driven and the questions aren't likely to be much different than you've previously faced. I definitely would though consider trying to covertly record. I would also advise taking any supportive medical evidence you have and even the result of your previous tribunal... place those into proceedings at the medical... put the HCP on the back foot in terms of ignoring problems. But remember the benefit is assessed according to the descriptors... get clued up on those.. especially as they may have changed since your last assessment. Also important to remember is that the medical doesn't determine entitlement, only the DWP can take a decision on that... but obviously it does act as a significant and usually convincing piece of evidence to the DWP. And yes.. you're right... no prizes in this game for bravery or hiding your problems... you have to assume the HCP is looking to find as few descriptors as possible as applying to you and that they have extremely limited understanding of your medical conditions and problems... so don't hold back. Remember they are looking to obtain facts that they can use in relation to the descriptors... to justify their choices of descriptors... they'll extrapolate and make inferences like... well... like is beyond belief sometimes... so for example being able to watch a film at home may be interpreted as meaning you can concentrate and focus for long periods, can sit comfortably for long periods etc, have no cognitive problems etc. I'd be extremely cautious therefore about mentioning volunteering.. sad but true.. that may give them opportunity to ignore many of your claimed problems... they could simply record 'claimant says they have no problems doing voluntary work every week' and ignore the fact it is only an hour a week or the problems and restrictions you face in doing it. Some HCPs ointhe other hand may be sympathetic, properly record and properly evaluate your limitations inrelation to the descriptors. It can be very hit and miss... but as you know.. there's always opportunity to appeal.

Good luck!

Last edited by Muttleythefrog; 23-01-2012 at 6:43 PM.
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# 9
vikingsnail
Old 24-01-2012, 6:34 PM
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Well I was supposed to have my medical today, but just as I was about to leave they rang to cancel! Apparently they were running way behind schedule. Winds me up because no doubt they'd have threatened to stop my money if I cancelled at such short notice.

As much as I wasn't looking forward to it, I just wanted to get it out of the way today. Oh well!
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# 10
Muttleythefrog
Old 24-01-2012, 6:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikingsnail View Post
Well I was supposed to have my medical today, but just as I was about to leave they rang to cancel! Apparently they were running way behind schedule. Winds me up because no doubt they'd have threatened to stop my money if I cancelled at such short notice.

As much as I wasn't looking forward to it, I just wanted to get it out of the way today. Oh well!
It's particularly appalling when you consider that there are specific descriptors relating to being unable to cope with change such as with appointments being cancelled on same day. You'd think they may actually consider their customer base for these assessments and properly schedule.. I understand they assume a decent percentage of people won't turn up.

Last edited by Muttleythefrog; 24-01-2012 at 7:14 PM.
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# 11
symikins
Old 24-01-2012, 7:08 PM
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my assessment was last march [just filled out my esa form again] so me thinks another meeting will be on the way soon
l strongly reccommend you take someone with you , my sister came with me but despite her input and help during the meeting he reported back that " her sister came with her but sat outside during the interview"
l took all my medical evidence with me [as asked] which he did not ask for , only at the end asked him if he needed to look at it he said no
l said that as l was asked to bring supporting medical notes l insist that he looked at it ... begrudgingly he flicked through the pile so quickly he could not have read any of it and refused copies to add to my details
needless to say l got refused , even though my health was much worse than the year before[ not only MH issues but now quite bad mobility issues]
appealed strongly and was reinstated immediatly
though it may go against your trusting honest nature , they are not there to help YOU . they have their own agenda to keep and sadly your well- being is not part of it
GRAB EVERY OPPERTUNITY YOU GET ..YOU DONT KNOW HOW LONG YOUR HERE FOR
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# 12
xXMessedUpXx
Old 24-01-2012, 7:27 PM
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they purposely overlook the appointments. i had mine last week is and found out i could have to wait up to an hour. my friend complained on my behalf as i don't cop well with unexpected change and i got a letter apologizing.
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# 13
symikins
Old 24-01-2012, 7:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muttleythefrog View Post
It's particularly appalling when you consider that there are specific descriptors relating to being unable to cope with change such as with appointments being cancelled on same day. You'd think they may actually consider their customer base for these assessments and properly schedule.. I understand they assume a decent percentage of people won't turn up.

that happening is my worst case scenario , it would throw me into a panic and ld be all over the place for days ,
20 yrs ago l would have read that and thought, for gods sake get a grip woman ...thats the hard bit to live with... l dont recognize who l am anymore... and feel like that every morning l wake

where did l go ???
GRAB EVERY OPPERTUNITY YOU GET ..YOU DONT KNOW HOW LONG YOUR HERE FOR
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# 14
SimIsOnTheUp
Old 24-01-2012, 8:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikingsnail View Post
Well I was supposed to have my medical today, but just as I was about to leave they rang to cancel! Apparently they were running way behind schedule. Winds me up because no doubt they'd have threatened to stop my money if I cancelled at such short notice.

As much as I wasn't looking forward to it, I just wanted to get it out of the way today. Oh well!
Hi,

Sorry to read that you're having stress from these people.

I've gone through the ESA Medical / Nil Points letter / Six + months wait for appeal / Appeal Hearing / Overturned at Hearing - awarded 18 points!

Had my second ESA Medical last Summer, and again 'scored' nil points.

Appealed again last year, and am looking at Feb / March for the second Appeal Hearing.

vikingsnail -

Great to read that your last appeal was also successful. I'm sure that with representation, your next one will be just as successful.

My best advice to you would be to insist the DWP / ATOS do their medical assessment at your home.

Put it in writing, along with supporting evidence from your GP (stating that attending would do more harm than good to your Mental Health).

It's unlikely that they'll agree to a home visit, but it's certainly worth a try.

All the best with it.

I appreciate just how stressful the process is.
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# 15
cit_k
Old 25-01-2012, 7:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muttleythefrog View Post
It's particularly appalling when you consider that there are specific descriptors relating to being unable to cope with change such as with appointments being cancelled on same day. You'd think they may actually consider their customer base for these assessments and properly schedule.. I understand they assume a decent percentage of people won't turn up.
Would not suprise me if they denied points because they coped with the medical being canceled and did not turn up....

And as ~XXmessedup mentioned, they do have an admitted policy of overbooking on purpose, so people are basically having medicals cancelled due to their own policy.
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# 16
Muttleythefrog
Old 25-01-2012, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cit_k View Post
Would not suprise me if they denied points because they coped with the medical being canceled and did not turn up....

And as ~XXmessedup mentioned, they do have an admitted policy of overbooking on purpose, so people are basically having medicals cancelled due to their own policy.
With any luck they'll cancel my appointment on the day when I'm there (if called for another medical at this re-assessment) as I'm taking a weapon (which I've documented in the ESA50 and is documented in supporting evidence being supplied).... they'll find out how I deal with cancelled appointments at short notice and incompetence..lol.
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# 17
cit_k
Old 25-01-2012, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muttleythefrog View Post
With any luck they'll cancel my appointment on the day when I'm there (if called for another medical at this re-assessment) as I'm taking a weapon (which I've documented in the ESA50 and is documented in supporting evidence being supplied).... they'll find out how I deal with cancelled appointments at short notice and incompetence..lol.

oooh im curious, it depends if they read the esa 50 and supporting evidence, but if they do be careful, atos are more likely to call in an armed police response....
Mind you I guess it depends what the weapon is, it might not be a physical one, it could be a powerful document...
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# 18
Muttleythefrog
Old 25-01-2012, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cit_k View Post
oooh im curious, it depends if they read the esa 50 and supporting evidence, but if they do be careful, atos are more likely to call in an armed police response....
Mind you I guess it depends what the weapon is, it might not be a physical one, it could be a powerful document...
lol... I'm doing everything I can to avoid the need for face to face medical... including sticking the report from my last (the first) in with ESA50. I've faced an armed employee before (well actually worse - I was shot at by them on two separate occasions..lol).. let them bring it on..haha... it'll be a hammer. Be funny if the HCP doesn't read the ESA50 or evidence in advance like last time only to find out I'm carrying a weapon highlighted in that evidence. Wonder if they have a panic alarm system... could be an interesting day out.. let's hope for everyone's sake they decide just to keep me in Support Gp without one..lol. The things you have to do to distract them from your dictaphone..lol.. terrible..haha

Last edited by Muttleythefrog; 25-01-2012 at 12:53 PM.
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# 19
cit_k
Old 26-01-2012, 7:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muttleythefrog View Post
lol... I'm doing everything I can to avoid the need for face to face medical... including sticking the report from my last (the first) in with ESA50. I've faced an armed employee before (well actually worse - I was shot at by them on two separate occasions..lol).. let them bring it on..haha... it'll be a hammer. Be funny if the HCP doesn't read the ESA50 or evidence in advance like last time only to find out I'm carrying a weapon highlighted in that evidence. Wonder if they have a panic alarm system... could be an interesting day out.. let's hope for everyone's sake they decide just to keep me in Support Gp without one..lol. The things you have to do to distract them from your dictaphone..lol.. terrible..haha
Well, if you have put your carring a weapon in the evidence/forms already analysed by atos, then if they proceed with the assessment without querying that first, you know for sure they have not bothered reading your evidence as they are legally required to do.

Most likely, if your lucky, they will read it on the day, just before the assessment starts.

Depending on how well its read, they may or may not notice what you wrote...

Did you give them a reason for carrying a weapon out of interest?

I seriously would be suprised, if they found out on the day if they did not at best call the medical off (leading to no benefits and no pay during appeal) or called the police, and without good cause for a hammer, you risk being done for carrying a offensive weapon.

Its certainly an interesting tactic, but rather risky.

Regarding the dictaphone, good move.

You may be interested in this FOI request (it was on a page linked to by morgan recently) - which states they are now allowing claimaints to request [in advance] their medical be officially recorded and atos will supply all the recording equipment etc.

Worth doing, so you have an official record.

But, even with the official recording (assuming they can figure out how to turn the machine on, they had great difficulty when they officially recorded mine) you should still covertly record the medical.

This is because they may do what they did to me, and make you sign a document that restricts you legal rights, and attempts to pervert the cause of justice should you have grounds for a legal complaint against them that is non benefit related.

You can sign the document, you have to really if you want your evidence, and dont want to be marked down as non compliant, but the document wont restrict your copy of the assessment - you own that, and you can do what you want with it.
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# 20
cit_k
Old 26-01-2012, 7:17 AM
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Also, if you are called for a face to face assessment, ask them for a copy of the ESA 85A preboard report (the medical report done by atos that recommended to the decision maker a face to face medical was required, to see the reasons why they said so.) It could be like my last pre-board, despite sending in multiple pages of supporting evidence, the nurse doing the preboard said there was no evidence submitted at all!
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