Claiming sickness benefit

My wife has struggled with anxiety & stress for a long time. This has an affect on her physically as well, causing fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, etc. This means she has only been able to work part-time. Her last job was over 6 years ago, which was a part-time job as a receptionist.

She left that job when she got pregnant. She had hoped to get back in to work within a few years but her symptoms have just got worse. She has been going to counselling and they advised her she is likely suffering from depression now.

For the past 6 years I have been the sole earner in my household. I am on above average wages but we are just about making ends meet. Unfortunately I'm not entitled to any benefits. My wife feels responsible for our situation, but I don't blame her at all.

She went to see her GP to ask about whether she could have a letter to confirm she is unfit to work, but this was refused. The GP told her she'd need to be on a extended course of anti-depressants or other medication for this to happen.

My wife has adverse affects to most medications and therefore she does not want to go on anti-depressants. Also, she is aware that anti-depressants are basically happy pills and won't fix the underlying issues.

I was wondering if there is anything else she can do in order to claim sickness benefit?
«1

Comments

  • Muttleythefrog
    Muttleythefrog Posts: 19,688
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Forumite
    edited 22 January at 11:15AM
    Sorry to hear this and that the GP sounds quite unsupportive...they can be really hit and miss... as can be anti depressants.

    I presume you've been through a calculator like Entitled To to see if there are any entitlements such as to any Universal Credit. If not do so. 

    Because she hasn't recently worked she will not qualify for New Style ESA (out of work sickness benefit based on contributions prior to claim). Income related ESA no longer can be applied for - instead you'd apply for Universal Credit. So unless there is entitlement to Universal Credit (which you should check) then in my mind pursuing a line of 'unfit for work'/sickness benefit has no value... a sick note would achieve nothing in benefit terms. If there is entitlement to U/C then sick note does become a factor and later a Work Capability Assessment - return to the thread for further advice and give details of any benefits currently received.

    There is a possibility of claiming PIP... the disability benefit. It's not always easy and with mental health issues can be a bit of a battle.. but one many of us win... millions in fact. It really depends how badly she is affected in daily activities looked at as to whether qualification for an award at some level is realistic. Typically people who do qualify given the background conditions you describe do so because across a range of daily tasks such as getting dressed, washed and eating prompting or supervision is required... sometimes dealing with social situations is also a problem and mobilising outdoors due to overwhelming anxiety difficult. PIP is not means tested and is something that can be claimed in or out of work so would not be affected by your earnings or indeed hers should such arise again. CAB website has some good guidance on PIP and claiming it. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/before-claiming/check-you-are-eligible/

    My advice for people new to PIP is to honestly evaluate how many points you should score if assessed correctly... and let that be a guide as to whether applying makes sense or not. There are 10 Daily Living activities and 2 Mobility... only one descriptor (statement of disability) in each activity can be applied. For either component 8-11 points total gives standard award, 12+ points an enhanced award. It's important to understand that in order to be considered able to do a task you need to be able to do it reliably (safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in reasonable time... so for example if someone can get dressed but it takes 2 hours then that's not in reasonable time and so they cannot do it reliably)
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/adviceguide/pip-9-table-of-activities-descriptors-and-points.pdf


    Otherwise.... stuck for advice other than the usual money saving. Strange idea... but things like local community larders if they exist near you... can be good not just for saving money and food waste but can bring together quite an array of people who can be good for short bursts of weekly type socialisation too that could have health benefits.
    "Do not attribute to conspiracy what can adequately be explained by incompetence" - rogerblack
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,290
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    edited 21 January at 11:58PM
    GSTAR said:
    My wife has struggled with anxiety & stress for a long time. This has an affect on her physically as well, causing fatigue, headaches, stomach issues, etc. This means she has only been able to work part-time. Her last job was over 6 years ago, which was a part-time job as a receptionist.

    She left that job when she got pregnant. She had hoped to get back in to work within a few years but her symptoms have just got worse. She has been going to counselling and they advised her she is likely suffering from depression now.

    For the past 6 years I have been the sole earner in my household. I am on above average wages but we are just about making ends meet. Unfortunately I'm not entitled to any benefits. My wife feels responsible for our situation, but I don't blame her at all.

    She went to see her GP to ask about whether she could have a letter to confirm she is unfit to work, but this was refused. The GP told her she'd need to be on a extended course of anti-depressants or other medication for this to happen.

    My wife has adverse affects to most medications and therefore she does not want to go on anti-depressants. Also, she is aware that anti-depressants are basically happy pills and won't fix the underlying issues.

    I was wondering if there is anything else she can do in order to claim sickness benefit?
    Without wanting to venture into medical advice which is against forum rules, they may be happy pills, but they can also give you the headspace to be able to tackle some of the underlying issues. That was my personal experience anyway.
    Where has she been accessing the counselling? They may be able to help with supporting evidence for a PIP claim.

    Has she thought about seeing a different GP? Although the difficulty is if that she’s not seen a GP regularly (if she hasn’t – she may well have been)  for these issues, then  turning up and asking for a sick note isn’t something they’re necessarily going to have the evidence for. Hence, knowing where she accessed the counselling from.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • Spoonie_Turtle
    Spoonie_Turtle Posts: 8,173
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    The only benefit a fit note would have is if you both claimed Universal Credit - because it would have to be a joint claim - and a fit note would enable her to have a Work Capability Assessment.
    You can check for potential eligibility here
    https://www.entitledto.co.uk/
    https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk/

    The non means-tested benefit people claim is ESA, but one has to have the required National Insurance contributions/credits for the previous two full tax years.  If she hasn't worked for 6 years then she definitely won't meet the contributions conditions
    https://www.entitledto.co.uk/help/employment-and-support-allowance-contribution-based

    Realistically if UC isn't an option, then there is no point pursuing a fit note.
  • fatbelly
    fatbelly Posts: 20,232
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Cashback Cashier
    Forumite
    She should make a claim for PIP, and try to do this with the help of someone used to the forms. Your local CAB may have such a person. There are disability charities and various support workers.

    I can't see any downside to this though there's no guarantee of success

    On the antidepressant issues I agree with elsien - they often work where talking therapies do not. The downside is that you can have a rough first couple of weeks.
  • You say you’re on above average wages but you might still be entitled to UC. If your child is young your wife might not have to do much job seeking. Others will know more than me on this score.

    Check out your entitlement here (it’s for a household).

    https://www.entitledto.co.uk/benefits-calculator/Intro/Home?cid=2cf82a60-41a2-4141-ba5f-31437113bb75
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,637
    First Anniversary I've been Money Tipped! First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    Do you claim child tax credit?

    If you do, any claim for UC will stop the child ax credit
  • GSTAR
    GSTAR Posts: 43
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    Sorry to hear this and that the GP sounds quite unsupportive...they can be really hit and miss... as can be anti depressants.

    I presume you've been through a calculator like Entitled To to see if there are any entitlements such as to any Universal Credit. If not do so. 

    Because she hasn't recently worked she will not qualify for New Style ESA (out of work sickness benefit based on contributions prior to claim). Income related ESA no longer can be applied for - instead you'd apply for Universal Credit. So unless there is entitlement to Universal Credit (which you should check) then in my mind pursuing a line of 'unfit for work'/sickness benefit has no value... a sick note would achieve nothing in benefit terms. If there is entitlement to U/C then sick note does become a factor and later a Work Capability Assessment - return to the thread for further advice and give details of any benefits currently received.

    There is a possibility of claiming PIP... the disability benefit. It's not always easy and with mental health issues can be a bit of a battle.. but one many of us win... millions in fact. It really depends how badly she is affected in daily activities looked at as to whether qualification for an award at some level is realistic. Typically people who do qualify given the background conditions you describe do so because across a range of daily tasks such as getting dressed, washed and eating prompting or supervision is required... sometimes dealing with social situations is also a problem and mobilising outdoors due to overwhelming anxiety difficult. PIP is not means tested and is something that can be claimed in or out of work so would not be affected by your earnings or indeed hers should such arise again. CAB website has some good guidance on PIP and claiming it. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/before-claiming/check-you-are-eligible/

    My advice for people new to PIP is to honestly evaluate how many points you should score if assessed correctly... and let that be a guide as to whether applying makes sense or not. There are 10 Daily Living activities and 2 Mobility... only one descriptor (statement of disability) in each activity can be applied. For either component 8-11 points total gives standard award, 12+ points an enhanced award. It's important to understand that in order to be considered able to do a task you need to be able to do it reliably (safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in reasonable time... so for example if someone can get dressed but it takes 2 hours then that's not in reasonable time and so they cannot do it reliably)
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/adviceguide/pip-9-table-of-activities-descriptors-and-points.pdf


    Otherwise.... stuck for advice other than the usual money saving. Strange idea... but things like local community larders if they exist near you... can be good not just for saving money and food waste but can bring together quite an array of people who can be good for short bursts of weekly type socialisation too that could have health benefits.
    Thank you for your kind reply.

    I have just done a benefit entitlement check, and we would be entitled to a grand total of £0 UC. That's because of my salary (just over £40k).

    I also had a look at the PIP pointing criteria, and basically she would score 0 on that. The fact of the matter is, she is perfectly capable of doing all the things listed on the criteria. But on the days she is really struggling, she can be in bed all day and not even have the energy to get up and make herself a meal.

    My understanding is, the PIP criteria has to be true on a consistent basis, as a result of a medical condition you may have. It doesn't apply if you are struggling with fatigue or low energy levels. So, as it stands, with PIP ruled out as well, I would have to accept she isn't going to receive any financial help.
  • HillStreetBlues
    HillStreetBlues Posts: 3,097
    Photogenic First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    edited 24 January at 12:12AM
    GSTAR said:

    My understanding is, the PIP criteria has to be true on a consistent basis, as a result of a medical condition you may have. It doesn't apply if you are struggling with fatigue or low energy levels. So, as it stands, with PIP ruled out as well, I would have to accept she isn't going to receive any financial help.
    PIP can and is claimed by people with fatigue or low energy levels, but normally being honest it's a battle.
    With it varying from day to day, it will be based on a average day. So if the average is over 6 months in 12 months period then a person would qualify if meeting criteria. 
    Let's Be Careful Out There
  • poppy12345
    poppy12345 Posts: 17,729
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    GSTAR said:
    Sorry to hear this and that the GP sounds quite unsupportive...they can be really hit and miss... as can be anti depressants.

    I presume you've been through a calculator like Entitled To to see if there are any entitlements such as to any Universal Credit. If not do so. 

    Because she hasn't recently worked she will not qualify for New Style ESA (out of work sickness benefit based on contributions prior to claim). Income related ESA no longer can be applied for - instead you'd apply for Universal Credit. So unless there is entitlement to Universal Credit (which you should check) then in my mind pursuing a line of 'unfit for work'/sickness benefit has no value... a sick note would achieve nothing in benefit terms. If there is entitlement to U/C then sick note does become a factor and later a Work Capability Assessment - return to the thread for further advice and give details of any benefits currently received.

    There is a possibility of claiming PIP... the disability benefit. It's not always easy and with mental health issues can be a bit of a battle.. but one many of us win... millions in fact. It really depends how badly she is affected in daily activities looked at as to whether qualification for an award at some level is realistic. Typically people who do qualify given the background conditions you describe do so because across a range of daily tasks such as getting dressed, washed and eating prompting or supervision is required... sometimes dealing with social situations is also a problem and mobilising outdoors due to overwhelming anxiety difficult. PIP is not means tested and is something that can be claimed in or out of work so would not be affected by your earnings or indeed hers should such arise again. CAB website has some good guidance on PIP and claiming it. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/pip/before-claiming/check-you-are-eligible/

    My advice for people new to PIP is to honestly evaluate how many points you should score if assessed correctly... and let that be a guide as to whether applying makes sense or not. There are 10 Daily Living activities and 2 Mobility... only one descriptor (statement of disability) in each activity can be applied. For either component 8-11 points total gives standard award, 12+ points an enhanced award. It's important to understand that in order to be considered able to do a task you need to be able to do it reliably (safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in reasonable time... so for example if someone can get dressed but it takes 2 hours then that's not in reasonable time and so they cannot do it reliably)
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Global/Migrated_Documents/adviceguide/pip-9-table-of-activities-descriptors-and-points.pdf


    Otherwise.... stuck for advice other than the usual money saving. Strange idea... but things like local community larders if they exist near you... can be good not just for saving money and food waste but can bring together quite an array of people who can be good for short bursts of weekly type socialisation too that could have health benefits.


    I also had a look at the PIP pointing criteria, and basically she would score 0 on that. The fact of the matter is, she is perfectly capable of doing all the things listed on the criteria. But on the days she is really struggling, she can be in bed all day and not even have the energy to get up and make herself a meal.

    My understanding is, the PIP criteria has to be true on a consistent basis, as a result of a medical condition you may have. It doesn't apply if you are struggling with fatigue or low energy levels. So, as it stands, with PIP ruled out as well, I would have to accept she isn't going to receive any financial help.

    For PIP, you do not need to be affected every single day. It's how you're affected for the majority of the days, so at least 50% of the days over a 12 month period.

    I can do all the activities but i can't do them regularly or reliably so i'm treated as not being able to go them at all (the ones that apply)


  • Spoonie_Turtle
    Spoonie_Turtle Posts: 8,173
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Forumite
    edited 23 January at 11:48PM
    Just adding my voice to the chorus of PIP definitely not being limited to literal physical incapability.  If someone can physically do something but needs prompting or encouragement, for instance, then they are not classed as being able to do it.  People most certainly can qualify due to fatigue, whether that's for a physical or mental reason.

    This might help: https://www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/pip-mental-health-guide/help-with-your-pip-claim/how-to-fill-in-the-pip-form/

    But please do have a read of the link poppy posted because it is thorough and especially the section about Reliably - if you weren't there, how would your wife manage realistically?  Not just for a day or two, but long term - months, years.  It can be distressing to really think about and be confronted with the reality, but if she does qualify then the monetary benefit will probably outweigh that.


Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.1K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards