Clause 99, Catch 22 – The ESA Mandatory Second Revision and Appeals

552733_435687149834152_88095195_nSection 102 and Schedule 11 of the Welfare Reform Act, (Clause 99) – Power to require revision before appeal.

If anyone left in doubt that this Government’s policies are grossly unfair, and are intentionally punishing sick and disabled people – some of whom are amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens – you need look no further than Clause 99 for verification. Currently, claimants who are found fit for work can continue to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) at the basic rate by immediately lodging an appeal if they think the decision is wrong. ESA will then remain in payment until the appeal is decided.

That is all set to change, however, under Clause 99 of the Welfare Reform Bill, intended to be effective from April 2013 – and according to the Department for Work and Pensions, from October 2013 that includes ESA and DLA decisions. Under the new rules, claimants who wish to challenge a benefit decision will no longer be allowed to lodge an appeal immediately. Instead, there will be a mandatory revision or review stage, during which a different Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision maker will reconsider the evidence and, if necessary, send for more information, before deciding whether to change the original decision.

There will be no time limit on how long this process may take. The requirement for a mandatory review/revision before proceeding with appeal applies to all DWP linked benefits. During the review, no ESA will be payable, not even the basic rate. However, once the review is completed, those wishing to appeal may claim basic rate ESA again, up until the tribunal. It’s important that people know to request this continued payment from the DWP, once they have lodged their appeal. 

The ludicrous claim from Government is that this “simplifies” the appeal process, and  “the changes will improve customer service by encouraging people to submit additional evidence earlier in the process to help improve decision making. Resolving any disputes without the need for an appeal will also help ensure that people receive the right decision earlier in the process.”

Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe this is the genuine reasoning behind clause 99 at all. The successful appeals to date provide a growing and substantial body of evidence that the Work Capability Assessment isn’t fit for purpose. People are being wrongfully denied their claims for ESA. Mandatory review will make it very difficult for people to continue with an appeal, since their lifeline income will end for an indefinite period until the review is completed and they can proceed with appeal.

You will also have to appeal directly to HM Courts and Tribunal Services – this is known as “direct lodgement” – as DWP will no longer lodge the appeal on your behalf. DWP has agreed with the Tribunal Procedure Committee to introduce time limits to stipulate how long DWP has to respond to an individual appeal. The DWP is currently discussing what these time limits might be with the Tribunal Procedure Committee. That is assuming, of course, that people manage to circumnavigate the other consequences of this legislation.

From 1 April 2013 you will not be able to get Legal Aid for First-tier Tribunal hearings. Legal Aid will still be available for appeals to the Upper Tribunal and Higher Courts. See appealing to the Upper Tribunal against a first tier tribunal decision here: legal aid act 2012 for more information. So much for the right to a fair hearing.

There are some serious implications and concerns about these changes. Firstly, there is no set time limit for DWP to undertake and complete the second revision. Secondly, claimants are left with no income at all whilst they await the review, and until appeal is lodged. The DWP have stated that there is “no legal reason” to pay a benefit that has been disallowed during the review period. The only choice available seems to be an application for Job Seekers Allowance. (JSA) or Universal Credit. However, we know that people in situations where they have been refused ESA have also been refused JSA, incredibly, on the grounds that they are unavailable for work, (and so do not meet the conditions that signing on entails) or they are unfit for work, because they are simply too ill to meet the conditions.

We know of people who have had their application for JSA refused because they attend hospital for treatment once a week and so they are “not available for work” at this time. Furthermore, the minimum waiting period for a new claim to be processed is 6 weeks. That’s 6 weeks with no income at all.

Moreover, there is some anecdotal evidence of people being told by the DWP that in order to claim JSA, they must first close their original claim for ESA, since it isn’t possible to have two claims for two different benefits open at the same time. DWP are also telling people that this means withdrawing their ESA appeal. However, you have the right to appeal.

Another grave concern is that although most people on income related ESA are automatically passported  to maximum Housing and Council Tax Benefit, from the time that the claim ends, (and for whatever reason), eligibility to housing benefit and council tax also ends. 

However, I would urge people in this situation to contact the Housing Benefit office promptly to explain the situation – the DWP automatically contact the Council to tell them when someone’s eligibility for ESA has ended. It is always assumed that the person claiming has found work when their DWP related benefit eligibility ends.

You can still claim for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit because you have a low income, or nil income, but you will need contact the Benefits Section, and will need bank statements to demonstrate that this is true, and also, any other evidence you may have, such as your notification letter from DWP, evidence of your tenancy and ID. If you have no income as a result of your ESA being stopped, ask for a nil income declaration form. (Like this one, for example)

You may also apply for discretionary housing payments if you are likely to become homeless, and if there is a shortfall between your Housing Benefit, and rent costs. It’s also payable sometimes when you have legal costs. It’s certainly worth asking your Local Authority if you qualify for payment. There are limited funds available.

I am informed that when an appeal is pending, providing the Housing Benefit Office is informed of this, there should be some support towards rent and Council Tax. However, this is going to place further strain and difficulty on people who are ill and disabled. Housing Benefit is calculated by taking the work activity or support component of ESA into account, and currently, when basic rate ESA is payable up to appeal, some claimants are not necessarily eligible for the maximum Housing Benefit awards.

It’s therefore possible that Housing Benefit entitlement will be lower, with no basic rate ESA being payable after April 1st. I would urge people to contact their Local Authority as soon as you know your ESA award has ended, because otherwise they will simply close your Housing Benefit and Council Tax claim.

The FOI.

I can confirm that there was no risk analysis or risk register in respect of clause 99 of the Welfare Reform Bill. I sent an FOI to DWP that asked about these issues, together with questioning that Clause 99 contains no reference to a time limit on ESA reconsiderations, although it makes them mandatory. I asked :-

1) When is the intended implementation date?

2) As yet no decisions have been made regarding ESA payment levels
during the reconsideration period which could be indefinite. Can you
give an assurance that this will be announced BEFORE
implementation?

3) What data will you collect so that the effects of this
legislation can be accurately analysed subsequently?

4) Where are the risk assessment, impact analysis and risk register
that show the effect this will have on claimants whose benefit
payments could be affected indefinitely?

The response informed that the planned implementation date is April 2013, and “the DWP will conduct a  formal public consultation in line with the Government’s code of practice on consultation. This does not include publishing a risk register or conducting a risk analysis. This is because all aspects of the proposed changes are considered during the consultation process and in the impact assessment and equality impact assessments related to the changes”. There are no plans to introduce a time limit, or to retain payments of basic rate ESA throughout the second revision and leading up to appeal.

The DWP published consultation document “Mandatory consideration of revision before appeal” that could be accessed via the DWP web site under the heading “Consultations”. The consultation concerned issues relevant to the implementation and operation of the appeals reform provisions in the Welfare Reform Bill and invited comments on the draft regulations. I worked on raising awareness regarding the issues that the Government’s draft raised, as well as prompting and garnering responses to the consultation.

I can also confirm that the Government response to the consultation did NOT take into account any of the concerns we raised collectively, in particular, regarding the lack of a time limit on the DWP to produce the mandatory review, and the withdrawal of basic rate ESA to those awaiting the review outcome .

So, the consultation was evidently a sham, nothing more than paying lip service to an increasingly perfunctory democratic process. Given that basic rate ESA is exactly the same amount per week as JSA, we need to ask ourselves why the  Government have withdrawn the ESA safety net for those wanting to appeal DWP decisions that they are fit to work. Why introduce another layer of DWP bureaucracy to the appeal process, and why is it the case that there is need for a second revision, if the first response is based on robust procedure and decision making, and yields accurate and fair outcomes?

Of course we know that the outcomes are neither fair, accurate, or based on robust decision making. We know that some 40% of appeals for ESA were successful in 2011 and that this percentage rose to around 80% when claimants had representation at appeal. That is pretty damning evidence against this Governments’ claims that the system is working, and that many disabled people “can work”.

It’s likely that Clause 99 has been introduced to make appealing wrongful decisions that we are fit for work almost impossible. Sick and disabled people are effectively being silenced by this Government, and the evidence of a brutal, dehumanising, undignified and grossly unfair system of “assessment” is being hidden.

More than 10,600 people have died following being told they were “fit for work”, and this presents a significant statistical increase (from 310 deaths over the same period amongst incapacity benefit claimants) that correlates with the current system, and it is astounding that our Government have failed to address this. Instead, they have made the system even more brutally punitive, dehumanising and grossly unfair.

Clause 99 is simply an introduction of an additional obstructive layer of Kafkaesque bureaucracy to obscure the evidence of this. This Government is oppressive and certainly bears all of the hallmark characteristics of authoritarianism.

We need to be pressuring the government for the introduction of a time limit (on both legal and humanitarian grounds) as currently there is none. I did enquire to see if DWP had any internal rules or guidelines yet regarding a time limit but so far they have not. We also need to be pressuring for basic rate ESA to continue. That was a major part of the consultation response, too.  

Meanwhile, legal challenges to this unfair and totally unacceptable addition to the Welfare Reform Bill will be going ahead.

Government’s response to the public consultation.

The DWP published a short mandatory consideration of revision before appeal – Government interim response to public consultation which stated that the Department did not propose to make any significant changes to the draft regulations included in the consultation document as a result of the comments received.

The Government’s final response to the consultation included the following:

  • There is to be no time limit for the completion of mandatory reconsideration of decisions.
  • No decision has yet been made with regard to paying ESA pending reconsideration but other benefits may be available to claimants where ESA has been disallowed.
  • It was confirmed that housing benefit and council tax benefit will not be included in the mandatory reconsideration process.
  • Where a person makes a late application for revision, the Department will be removing the requirement that an application for revision cannot be granted unless it has merit, and removing the regulation which requires that, in deciding whether an extension of time is reasonable, the decision maker cannot take into account the fact that the individual misunderstood the law or was ignorant that they could request reconsideration.

In considering a late application for revision, the decision maker will look at whether it is reasonable to grant the application for an extension of time, and what the circumstances were that meant that the application could not be made within the one month time limit.

The decision maker will still consider whether an any time revision can be made, or whether the decision should be superseded when considering a late application for revision as they do now.

Where a request for reconsideration is made out of time, and the decision maker refuses the application to revise the original decision, the effect of the draft regulations is that there can be no appeal as the Secretary of State must consider whether to revise the decision before an appeal can be made.

Update: No basic rate ESA will be payable whilst people await the mandatory review, to challenge wrongful decisions. No appeal can proceed until that has been done by DWP, there is no time limit on DWP to undertake the review.

Lord Freud speaking in the Lords about  basic rate ESA an the mandatory review :-

I turn now to ESA. At the moment, if someone appeals a refusal of ESA, it can continue to be paid pending the appeal being heard; this is not changing. What is changing is that there can be no appeal until there has been a mandatory reconsideration. So there will be a gap in payment. In that period—and I repeat that applications will be dealt with quickly so that this is kept to a minimum—the claimant could claim jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit. Alternative sources of funds are available. Of course, he or she may choose to wait for the outcome of the application and then, if necessary, appeal and be paid ESA at that point.”

Later he said:

Under the current position, there is a voluntary process whereby people can go for reconsideration and the ESA is not payable until the decision is taken to go formally to an appeal.”  Lord Freud (Source: Hansard)

GL24  and Appeal information.

From April, you will need to send your GL24  appeal form (DWP leaflet “if you think our decision is wrong”) or a letter directly to HM Courts and Tribunal Services.

How to appeal by letter.

 The appeal must contain:

  • the appellant’s name, address and National Insurance number
  • enough information to identify the decision under appeal (benefit claimed and date of decision);
  • the grounds for the appeal;
  • if late, the special reasons for lateness and/or why the appeal has a good chance of success;
  • the appellant’s signature (or the signature of a person with written authority to act on their behalf).

Update: Guidance on revision and handling appeals for benefits
Note 3: The guidance comes into effect
from 8.4.13 for PIP and from 29.4.13 for
UC, JSA and ESA.

Decision Makers should note that mandatory reconsideration is being
introduced from:
8.4.13 for PIP
29.4.13 for Universal Credit
28.10.13 for JSA and ESA.

However, we are still hearing about cases where the mandatory review is being used already, and this ought to be challenged on the grounds that DWP have provided dates when clause 99 is to be implemented, and so ought to be working to that legal timetable.

The revision process applies to:
1. UC, PIP, JSA and ESA
2. decisions on credits
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/adma3.pdf

Further reading:

Further information from Rethink

ESA – Appeal statistics – before the MOJ spin!

Who is accountable and legally liable for the well-being of those deemed “fit for work”?

Step by step guide to appealing a ESA decision: Good Advice Matters

Sign the WOW petition – a call for a Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.

It’s a call for an  immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.

Consultation between the Depts of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

Help –  potential sources of funding from Charities and Trusts that help people out of poverty and debt:
United Utilities
3000 benevolent funds
Directory of National food banks
Representing yourself in Court

The LawWorks Clinics Network is a nationwide network of free legal advice sessions which LawWorks supports. Clinics provide free initial advice to individuals on various areas of law including social welfare issues, employment law, housing matters and consumer disputes – List of LawWorks clinics

“Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.” –  Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone


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191 thoughts on “Clause 99, Catch 22 – The ESA Mandatory Second Revision and Appeals

  1. My ATOS medical was in Feb 2013. I gave them a whole list of medical complaints making me unfit. The report subsequently stated ‘I looked fine’ I also told them of a pending treatment for a diagnosed condition, not mentioned on ATOS report. ESA then told me I would continue to recieve ESA pending a 2nd assessment in light of said treatment. The same week, my ESA file was closed as ATOS found me fit for work ‘within three months’
    My treatment started in March & was so successful I felt fit to work and went to the local JCP to sign off ESA & aply for JSA. I told ESA and DWP that I would not appeal for the assessment and apply for JSA backdated to end of Feb. They had already told me I could not appeal against ATOS whilst claiming JSA
    Five weeks later & it has taken me 3 different attempts to close my ESA who kept my case open despite writing to me to tell me it was closed and a further 3 phone calls to get them to close it and them telling me they would close it and didn’t. Waiting for a call from benefits processing tomorrow – 7 weeks and no payment so far

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  2. Thank you for alerting us again to the fact that it isn’t possible to have 2 claims open – one for ESA and one for JSA, so it isn’t possible to appeal against ATOS decisions regarding ESA whilst claiming JSA. Now there’s the catch 22: no money up until DWP complete the mandatory review, and if you don’t want to starve, and claim JSA, you can’t appeal against the decision to stop your ESA in the first place.

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  3. I am sorry to hear about the horrible obstacle course you have had, B and that must be worth a complaint and some compensation – 7 weeks with no money to live on.. I am hoping that tomorrow you have some money at last.

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  4. Hi Natasha, thanks for sharing your experiences, which are so sad and must have been so traumatic. Jenny has given a good response regarding some of your problems. With regard to your question about legal aid, well the Bill means we can no longer have support and representation at first appeal against a benefit decision, although you may get support from Citizens Advice or other welfare support agencies. You don’t have to pay to appeal, you can still do so, as you have done before, but you will need to write the appeal out and send it off to the tribunal yourself.

    I wish you healing and peace x

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    1. Thank you so much. I just hope they don’t take too long to ‘reconsider’ my case before they let me appeal. Last time they said I couldn’t claim JSA because my GP had signed a sick note saying I wasn’t fit for work, yet they had stopped my ESA because ATOS said I was, leaving me nowhere. I received the date of my next ‘assessment’ yesterday and its the 7th May. ill keep you posted

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      1. I’m going to get in touch with MPs about this, Lord Freud lied In Parliament ON RECORD and said that people would be able to claim other benefits, such as JSA. This is not right, it’s grossly unfair, dangerous for people who are unwell, at the very least it undermines our well being. It simply cannot be right that people are being left with no income to survive on. I am hoping that you can appeal soon and claim basic rate ESA, Natasha, don’t forget that you will have to phone and tell them you are appealing and that you want to claim ESA, as they won’t offer you that option. But it’s your right. Please let us know how you are getting on x

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  5. I want to wish everyone here good luck and the very best, I hope that each of you finds the strength, courage and support to get through these terrible and difficult times we are living through. None of us deserve this persecution from a government that doesn’t even have a mandate, and the Coalition certainly has no decency, concern for citizens, or respect for our human rights. Every single one of us is of equal worth and equally precious. Never lose sight of that.

    Love and well wishes x

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  6. i just had the tribunal and it lasted 1hr 20mins it was in no way Impartial i was ripped apart and made to feel i was on trail i have had enough and have now got it in my head to kill myself in the job center and i do think i am going to do this,this i what they have done to me i hope there happy i have a letter ready to be sent to all news and tv on the event of my death i think this my help other in the years to come,,./

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  7. Hi Mike your experience was horrible and unfair. You didn’t deserve that. You can appeal again to the second tier tribunal and ask for basic rate ESA to be paid, because you are entitled to. But you will need to gather some energy for that, and some support. I am very sorry that you are feeling so desperate, angry and distressed, and I understand why. You have been treated very badly.

    Please, Mike, consider this carefully. Firstly you won’t be helping anyone if you kill yourself. What happens when people kill themselves because of the distress many of us are going through is it adds to our collective pain, despair and grief. We will all feel it, and the horror. Others will feel the same sense of hopelessness and desperation, and may be driven to do the same. Do you really think that this will change anything? It will hurt those of us who care, and not those who don’t, and who are responsible for this situation.

    No matter how much you publicise your suicide, does this strike you as a government that will say “oh okay, it’s all our fault, because of our cruel policies and the way we treat people?” No, they will deny any responsibility, and your carefully prepared proof and evidence will be dismissed as the “symptoms” and sign of someone who was very ill, and who would probably have killed himself anyway, no matter what his circumstances were (and yes there is a terrible irony here too, having been through such a traumatic and useless tribunal.)

    The only way we make any changes here is by standing together, supporting each other, and fighting the bastards. It’s the difficult choice, but way I see it it’s not like we have many other options here. Your death will help no-one, it will only cause more grief and pain. We have the option of getting rid of this government in the next election, and sure it’s a while off, but they can be gone and things can be put right. That’s the truth and it’s worth hanging onto whilst things look so bleak.

    This is a psychic battle as much as a physical fight.

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  8. Mike, if you want me to remove the posts, let me know and I will, and if you prefer to talk privately via messaging I can do that. There’s a little more I would like you to do. Please read this:-

    Here in England things have been bleak for many people, and I’ve seen a steep rise in depression amongst friends.. I know that situations elsewhere in the world are very similar, too.

    Here is a safe place to talk, please don’t ever feel you are alone. Some of us here have felt suicidal, and some have also worked with others that have felt suicidal. There’s a wealth of experience here, and that is an invaluable resource for supporting each other. That’s what the group is for. During these difficult times, many of us need support from others the most, but it’s often a time when you don’t feel you can share. But you can. Really. 🙂

    Please read this: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

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  9. I hope it is okay to comment here about this Mike, and I hope you read it, and I hope you are okay. I just felt I wanted to say, I have also experienced and am experiencing a situation very similar to yours, and have just failed a tribunal hearing. It was even in the notes the tribunal were given about my case that I have suffered from suicidal ideation, along with depression and anxiety. They didn’t care. But I just wanted to say Mike please don’t do it, people like me, and others I have seen on this site and elsewhere need you to stay alive and be a part of the groundswell of opinion and outrage that must turn the tide of the outrageous injustices that are being implemented by this Government. I know it might not be much just this writing from a stranger on the internet but I just wanted to say you are not alone and that things will get better and that Kitty is right, that we need to stick together and not let these evil people destroy us. I’m sorry if what I am saying might not be of great help but I know when I have felt like you seem to, it was heartening to know others were in the same situation got through it and are still here and care about it.

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  10. Mike,
    Please do not let this ridged vile Authoritarian Government drive you to despair and do something you will regret, Kitty is right the Hostile government will not acknowledge you. There are many people in the same dire situation, all fighting for their rights and their life. Do not give up, your life is worth fighting for. You are not alone with this. Do not bottle it up, find someone to talk to if you are alone. There are people with empathy and that do care. We can not help it if we become ill, and are unable to work. This government will never acknowledge this I am afraid. We are not robots, we are only human. They will have to get stuffed!!! your health comes first Mike. Hope you feel better soon.

    The same goes to you too Luke, I really feel for people who suffer depression and anxiety. Suicide is not the answer. When we become sick or have an accident that changes our life, we tend to look at life in a different way. It is not materialistic stuff that is really important is it. Lets put our own health first, we all deserve to be kind to ourselves. We are not useless, we are unwell, or disabled. People will not understand until they have had their own good health snatched from them. They too will find they are up the creek without a paddle, under this harsh, critical and controlling regime.

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  11. Mike, and others. I have depression and anxiety and I am just at the beginning of this whole process, having been “migrated” to ESA this week, and am awaiting the Assessment. I have read what can happen and fully expect to be without any income at all for a while. First thing, for you guys, though, DO NOT EVEN THINK OF KILLlNG YOURSELF BECAUSE OF THESE CREEPS. Sometimes, in a war situation, survival does go down to the line and we are battling a mean and vindictive foe. If they are SO desperate to get people off benefits, would it be beyond them to implement caring policies/give people counselling so they are more able to go out into the world, earn their own living and live up to their own potential? You do not do this through taking all their money away and leaving them with nothing. Caring policies would be beyond any Tory government though, who probably wouldn’t know what this meant. (They would object on monetary grounds, yet they are willing to pour millions into putting people through obscene interviews/assessments.)

    Also, people, try and remember life is meant to be about living, not just worrying about vile Government policies. If you let them dominate your life and drive you to the point of suicide, they will win. (I know that is so hard, as I am battling now, but I’m not going to allow them to stop me enjoying the Spring, the flowers in my garden, fresh air and trying to get fit. The Tories would probably want to ban all people on benefits from being able to enjoy these things, but unfortunately for them, they are free. Even the Tories can turn the sun off, or stop flowers growing in the gardens of people who are on benefits. Grab these things with both hands and refuse to allow these scum to ruin everything.

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  12. Last July I was placed on ESA Assessment rate due to Contributions. I had an ATOS medical in September and was subsequently found fit for work. I appealed and last week was placed into the WRAG but my GP says that I am unfit for any kind of work due to new evidence that has since come to light from the Hospital. My question is can I now appeal again on a GL24 to be placed into the Support Group without any penalisation and my money stopped altogether? It took me since last October to get placed into the WRAG group.

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  13. Yes you can appeal without worrying about your money being stopped because you have already been put in the WRAG and so are entitled to that rate of ESA anyway. Notify the DWP that you are appealing, and ask if they will reconsider the decision in light of the new evidence you have.

    But if you are running over a month from the decision from DWP, then get your appeal in now. You are doing the right thing in notifying the DWP that things are worse than was originally thought. It may be that they will place you im the support group without the need for appeal. That does happen sometimes Good luck with this, I hope you don’t have to wait for the appeal, and the DWP do the right thing Christine

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  14. this has just happened to me no explanation of what is happening or about appeals my wife told that ime no longer on esa and that she must make a joint claime enquired about this yes its true but not only do I loose my dla but also my pip and carers allowance yet my specialist at hospital state that I can not walk more than ten meters and have several heart complaints any one of which could kill me at any time then thay state that because it will be a joint claime that my wifes j s a payment will be reduced I e two people one claime i loose every thing my wife looses£17 a week so even less money to live on I e £105 per week now think about this £98 per month duel fuell bill £32 pm house insurance £27 pm phone /broadband £12 tv licence £38 pm water rates and other billsleving not enugh to survive on I put in an appeal told it will take up to30weeks before its heard so organising a suicide party to say good by good luck to all family and friends

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  15. hello,
    in nov 2010 my brother gave me the gift of life,a new kidney,iam not back to my best,but its
    better then dialysis,my brother suffered for his kindness and after receiving esa for 6 months
    after the operation,he went for a atos medical and was told he was fully fit for work,18 months later after applying to appeal to the upper tribunal with evidence from doctors at addenbrookes hospital that my brother has a trapped nerve,his apply was set aside,the 1st tier tribunal looked at his appeal again and gave him 6 points,not enough to get esa,he has not had any income since nov 2010,i feel so guilty it has left me depressed,,,,,dont know what to do.

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  16. i have not received any money for 6 weeks now after an atos examiner said i was fit for work. everytime i contact the benefits section i am told it is the royal mails fault.
    in december 2011 i sent a medical certificate by recorded delivery ,as they kept saying my medical certificates had’nt arrived. when i phoned them to see why i had’nt been payed they used the same excuse , that it must be lost in the royal mail sorting office, so i told them ‘that’s funny because i’ve got it tracked on my p.c (recorded delivery) to your address.

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  17. I attended a atos interview this year 3 times only to be refused on each occasion. they said I was drunk.ermm I am alcohol dependent (and would admit that yes I was drunk on one occasion the other two I was fine) along with other medical issues.so after 3rd time i get a letter a day later stating that I am fit for work without actually having been examined. I was previously declared unfit for work by atos 12 months earlier and if anything my condition has worsened in the 12 months.but now they have told the job centre/dwp? I never attended the medical which I have proof and witnesses to say I did.when I challenged them and told them I had witnesses (two people took me there) and parking tickets it then changed to refused to participate which again is untrue.so my question is can I be declared fit for work by atos without been medically examined.as that is exactly what they have done.i have had not a penny from anywere for over 3 months as I am appealing the decision.and still waiting on the letter of them about wether or not the appeal has been granted.

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  18. I have been waiting for over a year for my Tribunal re my appeal against my atos medical I have been getting the lower rate of payment while waiting but have now had my payments stopped because my claim is over 365 days .
    My wife works full time so I cannot claim the Income based allowance .Where do I go from here

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  19. Eddie I have the same problem as you. I now face another ATOS medical. My money comes to an end in July this year. My husband works 29.5 hours a week and I am not entitled to anything after July. Where do we both go from here? I fear straight to hell as long as we ave ATOS and this government. I am sick to the teeth of my illnesses and it gets worse for me.

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  20. Eddie I have exactly the same problem as yourself. In July my money comes to an end because I have been on ESA for 365 days. I had an ATOS Medical in September 2012 and it was peppered with lies about me and I appealed on a GL24. I subsequently won my appeal and got put into the WRAG in April of this year, only to be told that in July my money ends. I have now asked DWP to look at my case again as I want to be placed into the Support Group due to a change in my circumstances. My husband works 29.50 hours a week and therefore I am not entitled to Income Related ESA. I now have been asked to fill in another ATOS Medical Questionnaire and face another Medical. I have also been called to the Job Centre for an Interview with them. I don’t know where to go next. But please don’t give up hope Eddie as I won’t and will fight this all the way. Please keep us all informed too.

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    1. You can still appeal once you get the second decision, but you cannot claim any ESA until you do appeal. Once your decision has been made, you can reclaim. BUT if you have been claiming JSA in the meantime – and that’s fraught with difficulty, too – you may find that the DWP have closed your ESA claim as you cannot have two claims open at the same time, so they are saying.

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      1. Thanks.
        I was hoping at least this wouldn’t kick in till october.
        I had always suspected that having two claims would be frowned upon. I am also willing to be that if you do reclaim, after that second decision, you’ll have to undergo another medical ‘assessment’.

        The people’s assembly met last week. Don’t seem to be doing much in repsect of all this.

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      2. I thought this wouldn’t come in until 28 October for ESA. If I don’t pass the WCA I am applying in writing for a reconsideration and saying that I will appeal should the new evidence be insufficient. Is this still the right way to do it? If the DWP argue that I am not entitled to assessment rate ESA while waiting for appeal, are they wrong to do so as I am officially an appellant?

        I am surprised at the lack of discussion of this outside user led websites and blogs like yours. Thank you so much for what you are doing. I shall definitely be seeing my MP on this issue (having had to whittle down my concerns so I am more likely to get an appointment). Unfortunately she was a blairite minister and I believe served as a whip and in DWP.

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      3. Yes, they are wrong to apply the mandatory review now as it isn’t to apply to ESA until October, and that information is up on the DWP’s own website. YOU are still entitled to basic rate ESA whilst awaiting your appeal,

        You will be after October, but not during the review stage. Once that has been done, you can claim basic rate ESA again until appeal, if you disagree with their review decision

        Good luck with your appeal and with your MP. I hope you get some support

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  21. Your fig. for ESA related deaths is for the first 6 wks after a decision, I believe.
    If I’m still found ‘fit for work’ after my appeal, I wouldn’t starve after only 6 wks. My savings would keep me going rather longer.
    Is there anyway of telling what the longer term effects of adverse ESA decisions has been ?
    Thanks for all your excellent wok, by the way.

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    1. Thanks ireallymeanthis. I know that the DWP claim they don’t have that data, but it would be worth finding a way of gathering that information ourselves. Ideas?

      The figures came from an FOI, from DWP. The people we are talking about are ILL It’s not just about the impact of going without food, risk of homelessness, it’s the fact that these people were also put under enormous strain, repeatedly – “The revolving door process” of continual assessment, benefit ended, entitlement for free prescriptions ends, Housing benefit ends, appeal…then usually within months, reassessment, and it all starts again.

      That level of constant strain will most certainly exacerbate existing health conditions, and certainly will result in some very ill and vulnerable people dying.

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  22. I know some of you told us that your GPs said they cannot help with your appeals. The claim is that a lack of time and resources is an issue. However, the underfunding of the NHS is a political issue and it is certainly NOT fair and right that patients should be made to suffer and go without support from their GP.

    Doctors have a duty of care and that includes ensuring the well being of their patients. That would extend to ensuring that their patient is not placed in a situation that would be harmful to them, by providing medical evidence that they hold.

    This order also contravenes human rights, article 6 of the ECHR – the right to a fair hearing.

    “The applicant must have a real opportunity to present his or her case or challenge the case against them. This will require access to an opponent’s submissions, procedural equality and generally requires access to evidence relied on by the other party and an oral hearing.”
    http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/human-rights/the-human-rights-act/what-the-rights-mean/article-6-right-to-a-fair-hearing.php

    GPs are being told they should not be policing the benefits system – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-23353623

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  23. I’m beginning to think that suicide will soon be the only option. I’m absolutely scared witless by the thought of being without money. There’s just no way I’d survive.

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    1. I know that sense of hopelessness, and the heartbreak that follows the realisation that we live in a society that has let this happen to us. But we CANNOT let them win, Ian.

      The numbers of people seeing the truth are growing. I am hopeful that soon there will be enough of us to demand change. Governments serve us, not the other way around. Keep some faith that it won’t stay like this forever. In the meantime, we have each other X

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  24. Ian I too have been stopped of my ESA and am appealing at the moment to be placed into the Support Group. I have won one appeal to get more than 0 points at my ATOS medical last year in September and was placed into the WRAG group but sadly since then my health has deteriorated and because of the new laws or whatever my money has been stopped pending on whether I win my appeal. I do feel for you but please keep on fighting as I am because I CANNOT let them win and WILL not let them win, because I have rights like everyone else that is ill in this country, good luck and please let us know how you get on as will I. x

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    1. Sorry you’re having to suffer all this hell. I’m actually having to reapply for disability benefits after living on the money from an inheritance for the past year or so. This is stressful enough, but the thought of the Atos assessment I’ll eventually have to undergo is filling me with dread. It seems inevitable that I’ll be found fit for work [I suffer from social anxiety] and end up having to appeal. The whole thing is a total nightmare and if it wasn’t for the internet I don’t know what on earth I would do. Good luck to you as well.

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  25. It is not a surprise that the “consultation” is a sham. The bereavement proposed changes was subject to a “consultation”. Every organisation’s comments were basically saying to much to soon. – these were ignored as were the opinions of individuals. The organisations were told what the government plan was, no changes were made effectively condemning widows/widowers with or without children into poverty. Widowed Parents Allowance has been cut by 90%. This government is detached from he citizens of the uk and have all but declared war on all of the most vulnerable in the UK. The extreme right wing shift, the confidence tricks and the shameful treatment of soldiers and their families is unforgivable. The deluded Tories think they will get re- elected. I would sooner cut my arms off rather than vote for any Tory. I want to stand against this tyranny and hope when the time comes I will we able to stand as an independent.

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  26. I find this to be very frightening . In the past every time my DLA has come to a end and I’ve reapplied it has always been turned down. I’ve had to go to appeal to get my DLA and have my doctor write a strong worded letter to get the decision over turned . I can’t believe they are now trying to make it more difficult for anyone to appeal. Their taking away our human rights. I hate this government so much for the way they are treating the disabled. They are picking on the most vulnerable people in society . Cutting their benefits making them go through so much stress to claim again. They make me sick they should try living off Employment Support Allowance and have their DLA cut and be told you could be waiting up 10 weeks or more while they decide if you can claim the new PIP benefit.

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  27. your a cad mr smith your father if he is still alive must be very ashamed of you he an ace pilot and hero and if he has passed away (naturally i hope,unlike many of your victims)he must be doing sommersaults in his coffin not just rolling as the adage goes you how can you do this to the most vunerable of our society you will rot in hell you no morals ha this man even claimed for his wife wages for writing his diary,FRAUDSTER,his boss claim dla motorbility for his disabled son before the mite passed away may the rest in peace and im grateful that boy cannot see what his father and underlings are doing to the disabled of our nation..who was it that said you can tell how civilised a country truely is by its care the those whom are weakest thev scum in office do nothing but line their stinking pockets

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  28. i can see so many more dying suicide will be the only option left where they can have dignity i want you out of office cameron clegg n id smith (hmmm they remind me of an old tv program last of the summer (instead of wine )bread
    pure evil …i cant get my head around that and have well above average intelligence

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    1. We vote them out. The only option is vote labour. They have called for the WCA to be scrapped, and are prepared to sack Atos. Atos were re-contracted by the Tories to remove benefit from 7 out of 8 of us. Clause 99 is another way of silencing us, and hiding the evidence of what they are doing,

      I campaigned hard to stop clause 99, now I am writing to the International Human Rights Commission about this. We have to see this challenged, it contravenes Article 6: the right to a fair hearing. And pa#eople are suffering and dying

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  29. About time we got educating the so called Famous people..In the music business..actors etc…then a lot of them will speak out and spread the word of the unjustness on the sick and disabled.
    We need to bring people together fast. And spread the word of how the government are behaving unjust. There’s no quicker way than FAMOUS PEOPLE….
    We need them to speak out people who are respected and people who are seen by the public as being ordinary just like us.
    This is possible if you draft a letter and send it to them if we all donate stamps or monies towards it. Some can be done via twitter and FB.
    Sorry if this is so black and white to me and I haven’t considered certain obvious things. I just want the silence of the oppression on the disabled and sick to stop.

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  31. xmy dad is on esa but has been under appeal since July and recently he was told it Will go to tribunal But he still isn’t receiving any money which is putting a strain on me as I am supporting us. both.

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      1. From next month (22nd) , people won’t be able to claim this if they are going through second review – called a mandatory review, And people won’t be able to appeal until they have had that second review completed. But once DWP have done that, then they can claim basic rate ESA again until tribunal , if they still need to appeal a decision

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      2. justto let you know I rang up dwp soon as and they didn’t understand why m dad wasn’t been paid. payment center rang up oh yeah all sorted payment next day and getting the back payment tomorrow 🙂

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