0 points after 15 years

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I’ve had lower spine degeneration for over 30 years, which has stopped me working for the last 15 during which time I have been on incapacity benefit then ESA Support Group. At the age of 62 I thought renewal would be a formality. So I was surprised to be called for assessment, I had to take an overdose of Tramadol just to travel to the assessment by train and taxi, and even then was unable to do any of the exercises due to severe pain. So I am totally flabbergasted to be phoned by a decision maker yesterday and told I had been awarded 0 points and I should go on Jobseekers Allowance. Jobseeking is impossible due to my condition so then I was told my benefit will stop.
I haven’t seen the assessment but with 0 points the assessor, who said she was a nurse, must have completely ignored everything I have written and said – with no explanation at all. Everyone at the assessment centre was very nice and helpful, but the assessor seemed quite hostile when we were alone. When I told her I couldn’t do the exercises due to severe pain she said ‘so you are refusing to do it’ as though I was a drunk driver refusing a breath test. Then she said ‘That’s fine’ I wish I had asked for it to be recorded now, I suppose I am too trusting.
The Doctor who has been treating me for over 30 years has retired, I haven’t seen my new Doctor, just got prescriptions over the phone, I haven’t had any treatment lately because they have already done everything they can, and they are all extremely busy with people who can be cured. They got a report from my new Doctor which was understandably brief but apparently confirms what I have said – the assessor must have ignored that as well. I asked if she had seen my MRI scans – she hadn’t.
I asked the decision maker several times for a Mandatory Reconsideration so I can appeal to a proper Doctor, he just said they ‘would be sending a letter in a few days’ I asked how I could contact him, he said No – we contact you, then he hung up.
Desperate now – where do I go from here please?
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  • poppy12345
    poppy12345 Posts: 18,087 Forumite
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    James1954 wrote: »
    I’ve had lower spine degeneration for over 30 years, which has stopped me working for the last 15 during which time I have been on incapacity benefit then ESA Support Group. At the age of 62 I thought renewal would be a formality. So I was surprised to be called for assessment, I had to take an overdose of Tramadol just to travel to the assessment by train and taxi, and even then was unable to do any of the exercises due to severe pain. So I am totally flabbergasted to be phoned by a decision maker yesterday and told I had been awarded 0 points and I should go on Jobseekers Allowance. Jobseeking is impossible due to my condition so then I was told my benefit will stop.
    I haven’t seen the assessment but with 0 points the assessor, who said she was a nurse, must have completely ignored everything I have written and said – with no explanation at all. Everyone at the assessment centre was very nice and helpful, but the assessor seemed quite hostile when we were alone. When I told her I couldn’t do the exercises due to severe pain she said ‘so you are refusing to do it’ as though I was a drunk driver refusing a breath test. Then she said ‘That’s fine’ I wish I had asked for it to be recorded now, I suppose I am too trusting.
    The Doctor who has been treating me for over 30 years has retired, I haven’t seen my new Doctor, just got prescriptions over the phone, I haven’t had any treatment lately because they have already done everything they can, and they are all extremely busy with people who can be cured. They got a report from my new Doctor which was understandably brief but apparently confirms what I have said – the assessor must have ignored that as well. I asked if she had seen my MRI scans – she hadn’t.
    I asked the decision maker several times for a Mandatory Reconsideration so I can appeal to a proper Doctor, he just said they ‘would be sending a letter in a few days’ I asked how I could contact him, he said No – we contact you, then he hung up.
    Desperate now – where do I go from here please?
    You're first step now is to ask for a MR (Mandatory Reconsideration) You will need a copy of the assessment report, you can get this by ringing dwp and ask them to send you one. Once you get this you can then ask for an MR. They will tell you they'll ring you but more often than not they don't. Put the MR in writing and send in recorded delivery. You'll need to include more evidence, the more the better. In the meantime yes you're ESA money will stop and you'll need to apply for JSA, at least until a decision has been made on the MR. If i'm wrong with any of this i'm sure someone will come and correct me :) good luck.
  • Sncjw
    Sncjw Posts: 3,511 Forumite
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    Sorry no advice for you but I know esa is different to pip and dla but when I had no hearing at all as my right ear became dead thus my hearing aid wouldn't work I applied for dla. I was totally deaf for 6 months had very little income. I applied for dla as it would have helped me to assess things. Anyways I applied for it and they said I need help but not enough. If I needed help then I need help.

    I got hearing aid in my left ear eventually but they never worked in the past for me so I was sceptical. They did work to a point that they will never make me hearing like hearing people.

    I applied for pip I wrote all my struggles in life and then if my hearing aid would break down that i would be so isolated and even with my hearing aid I can't do what hearing people can such as access cinema, theatres, hear people when I'm shopping as a lot of noise doesn't help me.

    They automatically gave me 2 points to assume that hearing aids are a magic cure but they are not . I never saw anyone yet you hear of those fidolimg the system
    Mortgage free wannabe 

    Actual mortgage stating amount £75,150

    Overpayment start date 1/3/23.

    Starting balance £66,565.45

    Current balance £63,787.16

  • Diary
    Diary Posts: 591 Forumite
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    Don't wait for the assessment report to put in your mandatory reconsideration. As more than likely the MR result will.be the same as the original decision simply write and send recorded. If you wait for the report you will likely go out of time for MR.
    Until you have the MR letter you cannot go to tribunal so the sooner you get it the better.
    DWP put very strict timelines on the claimant but they have no restrictions so you must stick rigidly to it.
    Master Apothecary Faranell replied, “I assure you, overseer, the Royal Apothecary Society dearly wishes to make up for the tragic misguidance which ended so many lives. We will cause you no trouble. We seek only to continue our research in peace".
  • James1954
    James1954 Posts: 27 Forumite
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    edited 5 May 2016 at 8:23AM
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    Thanks for the replies. I haven't slept since I got the call from the decision maker yesterday afternoon. He asked if my condition had altered since my assessment and I said it hadn't. But its even worse today, probably brought on by the stress of all this. So if he asked me now I could say its worse. I couldn't claim Jobseekers because I couldn't truthfully say I am looking for work - no one would employ me with my disability and I couldn't do the job if they did.
    Been going back over my ESA 50. After 15 years in this situation I am used to DWP forms and I don't think there is anything I have missed. The problem seems to be the assessor has simply ignored everything I wrote and said. When you realise they do that with impunity, you realise how they have found hundreds of people 'fit for work' in their final days of a terminal illness.
    The surgeons described my condition to me in laymans terms. The spine is like a pile of polo mints with the extremely fragile spinal cord running through them. The 'polo mints' at the bottom of my spine have disintegrated (which can be seen on the MRI Scans the assessor has not seen) causing extreme pain when any weight is put on them - even lifting the arms. But any attempt at surgery risks permanent damage to the spinal cord and permanent paralysis. So no surgeon will touch me. Thats it - Final answer from 3 different surgeons. No point in going back every week to ask again - especially when they are extremely busy with people who can be cured. But I suppose the DWP assumes because I am not wasting the Doctor’s time there is nothing wrong with me.
    So my recent treatment has been nothing more than prescribing painkillers, which I take as little as possible due to their side effects. As I said to the assessor, the amount of painkillers I had taken to get to the assessment would be like her getting blind drunk - the body can't maintain that state.
    The Doctor is so busy there are no appointments at all on the website which runs for 3 weeks. When I ring they give me an appointment straightaway because they know I have a serious condition – although its invariably a phone appointment to save their time and me traveling in. But I don’t want to abuse their emergency service to get another report for Maximus to ignore, and refuse to pay for. I know what its like to be needing a Doctor in a real emergency!!!
    So I guess the only thing I am short on is what the DWP accept as recent medical evidence.
  • citykid5
    citykid5 Posts: 821 Forumite
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    Hi James. Try and find out if your local council has a benefits advice team to help you with your appeal, falling this use your. Local citizens advice bureau. These people are professionals and do appeals on a daily basis and a lot more understanding than the money grabbing docs the dwp employ.
    Should help to reduce your stress levels knowing someone's on your side and knows the correct terminology to use when filling the forms in.
    Don't give up this is what they want you to do
  • Alice_Holt
    Alice_Holt Posts: 5,978 Forumite
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    Here is some info on the appeal proccess:
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/employment-and-support-allowance/while-youre-getting-esa/challenging-an-esa-decision/
    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-appeals

    Note that poppy is wrong and diary is correct. Ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration by letter as well. Keep a copy and proof of postage, so you have evidence of your request. You have a month from the date of the decision letter to request a MR.

    The next stage wiil be to appeal to the Tribunal Service (TC) on a SSCS 1 form.

    More info on this thread:
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5457238

    Once the appeal is lodged with the TS your ESa payments can be reinstated.

    Do get help from the CAB. Are you getting DLA / PIP ?

    Good Luck
    Alice Holt Forest situated some 4 miles south of Farnham forms the most northerly gateway to the South Downs National Park.
  • poppy12345
    poppy12345 Posts: 18,087 Forumite
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    edited 5 May 2016 at 9:25AM
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    Alice_Holt wrote: »
    Here is some info on the appeal proccess:
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/employment-and-support-allowance/while-youre-getting-esa/challenging-an-esa-decision/
    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-appeals

    Note that poppy is wrong and diary is correct. Ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration by letter as well. Keep a copy and proof of postage, so you have evidence of your request. You have a month from the date of the decision letter to request a MR.

    The next stage wiil be to appeal to the Tribunal Service (TC) on a SSCS 1 form.

    More info on this thread:
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5457238

    Once the appeal is lodged with the TS your ESa payments can be reinstated.

    Do get help from the CAB. Are you getting DLA / PIP ?

    Good Luck
    FYI...i did say at the end of my post if i'm wrong then someone will correct me! I also adviced the op he can ask for MR in writing!
  • Alice_Holt
    Alice_Holt Posts: 5,978 Forumite
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    edited 5 May 2016 at 9:30AM
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    poppy12345 wrote: »
    You're first step now is to ask for a MR (Mandatory Reconsideration) You will need a copy of the assessment report, you can get this by ringing dwp and ask them to send you one. Once you get this you can then ask for an MR. They will tell you they'll ring you but more often than not they don't. Put the MR in writing and send in recorded delivery. You'll need to include more evidence, the more the better. In the meantime yes you're ESA money will stop and you'll need to apply for JSA, at least until a decision has been made on the MR. If i'm wrong with any of this i'm sure someone will come and correct me :) good luck.

    These comments (in bold) are not correct. You do not need the medical assessment report at this stage.
    You have a time limit of one month from the date of the decision letter to ask for a reconsideration. Do not delay, write for an MR asap.
    Proof of posting is preferable to recorded delivery.
    Recorded delivery will delay the proccess (see http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=70586374#post70586374 )
    Alice Holt Forest situated some 4 miles south of Farnham forms the most northerly gateway to the South Downs National Park.
  • James1954
    James1954 Posts: 27 Forumite
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    Alice_Holt wrote: »
    Are you getting DLA / PIP ?

    Good Luck

    Thanks for the reply and very helpful links which I have had to remove from your quote since as a new user I can't post weblinks. I've never tried to claim DLA or PIP as the process seemed so daunting and invasive. I manage to do most things for myself - including dressing, toilet, showering etc using appliances which have been fitted free in my home by the NHS. Its just very slow and very painful so although movement is not impossible I couldn't do it 'reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner' as part of a job. So my feeling was I qualify for ESA, but perhaps not PIP. Apart from not being able to work, its hard to say what additional costs I incur from my disability.
  • HappyMJ
    HappyMJ Posts: 21,115 Forumite
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    James1954 wrote: »
    Thanks for the reply and very helpful links which I have had to remove from your quote since as a new user I can't post weblinks. I've never tried to claim DLA or PIP as the process seemed so daunting and invasive. I manage to do most things for myself - including dressing, toilet, showering etc using appliances which have been fitted free in my home by the NHS. Its just very slow and very painful so although movement is not impossible I couldn't do it 'reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner' as part of a job. So my feeling was I qualify for ESA, but perhaps not PIP. Apart from not being able to work, its hard to say what additional costs I incur from my disability.

    The additional costs you incur are amongst other things the extra travel costs to the GP to get the prescription for the painkillers that you are on. I know you said you rang for repeats. You could spend the money on phone calls instead. You may have inclusive calls in your contract but not having to make these calls and you may not have required the tariff you are on so therefore an additional cost.

    Do you really have no issues at all dressing? You could spend the PIP money on devices to help you get your shoes and socks on.

    You seem to have issues walking for a distance. You would need to spend some extra money on taxi's on journeys where most people could just simply walk.
    :footie:
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
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