ESA feedback urgently needed…

ESA feedback is urgently required.

Do you suffer from COPD, any form of asthma, especially brittle asthma, bronchiectasis, or other respiratory illness? And do you, alternatively (or even as well), suffer from ME/CFS?

If you do, then I and my readers are in desperate need of information, so how would you like to share your experiences with us? We’d love to hear from you, so if you can, please come and talk to us – post a comment and tell us how you got on. Please watch your language, or I’ll never see your comment – it’ll be filtered.

I’m trying to collect this information for the benefit of others with these conditions, particularly those currently receiving Incapacity Benefit, to try and establish how well the system is working for those people, specifically with the above conditions, who have already experienced it, and to share the information.

If you want your name kept out of it, that’s no problem – just tell me and your confidentiality will be assured (no comments are shown until I’ve seen them, so your name won’t show by accident).

And please – ESA only – there are many other posts concerned with other benefits.

Thank you in advance. . .

Ron.

ESA – a few thoughts…

Just checking out Employment and Support Allowance. As I’ll become a pensioner in October, I’ll be extremely unlucky to get sucked into it, changing from Incapacity Benefit to ESA, but it’s not impossible.

Interestingly, unlike the IB50 form, the ESA form has no questions relating to disability at all. You may, apparently, be sent a medical questionnaire. Equally, you may not. The whole affair rests on the medical assessment – effectively Continue reading

Employment & Support Allowance Information

You will find a selection of ESA-related downloadable PDF files on this website . Some are for healthcare professionals, and benefits advisors, and yet others are for patients.

My advice – download the whole shooting match (on each Continue reading

Claim DLA without ESA or IB…

Turned down for ESA, can I get DLA?

The two benefits aren’t linked, so yes, you can apply for DLA by all means (unless they’ve moved the goal-posts and I haven’t noticed – DLA is for help with mobility and care; it’s purely a disability benefit, nothing to do with your ability to work, as ESA is), so if you qualify you should get it no matter what. Getting it awarded is something else altogether! Find the link to the downloadable DLA form on this page.

When the time comes to reapply for ESA, you’ll find some advice on filling in the old IB50 for here. Although it doesn’t apply directly to the ESA form, the advice is still sound in general.

Poverty and benefits…

This evening, on BBC News 24, poverty was officially defined as an income less than 60% of the average wage – this equals about £14,400 (assuming an average wage of £24,000 – it’s probably a bit more than that).

So, pretty much anyone depending on benefits is so far below the poverty level, it’s obscene. Based on my own income, my Incapacity Benefit and DLA amount to £7,373 a year, so I would need an increase of almost 100% to actually reach that level! OK, there’s my DLA mobility too (£2,418 a year), but I don’t see that in hard cash, it goes to Motability (and having a car isn’t a luxury, it’s essential – I’d be totally housebound without it as, for a variety of reasons, I can’t use public transport, and even taxis are iffy) – if I did it’d give me a total of £9,791 a year, and I’d need an increase of about 48% to bring me up to the poverty level.

All I’ve heard on the news tonight, though, is a lot of bitching and whining about poor old pensioners! Isn’t it time we heard about those of us struggling to live on state benefits, and not in a position to provide for our old age, as many pensioners can but often don’t? We don’t have a choice – we simply don’t have enough money to save or invest. We experience just as much poverty as the average pensioner, quite possibly more, and as we get older that’s not going to get any better – where the fuck is our publicity?

It’s time, people, that we made our presence felt, and made the general public – and the politicians – aware of our situation, and move the focus out from the pensioners to include the rest of us. Most pensioners of my acquaintance are a damned sight better off than I am…

By the way, this is not an ageist issue – I’ll be a pensioner myself in 16 months!

Incapacity Benefit – some figures…

Here’s an interesting statistic from the Disability Alliance’s Employment Support Allowance Briefing document “…there are some 550,000 current IB claimants who have been receiving IB for more than 5 years…”.

The total number of IB claimants is about 2.4 million (2007 figure), which means that almost 2 million claims date from the last five years, which rather gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that the Thatcher government shoved people onto Invalidity Benefit (IVB), in droves to keep them off the unemployment stats in the eighties.

It also poses the question, bearing in mind that the figure of 550,000 embraces claims from 5 years ago right to the inception of IVB, and maybe even further, as to why there has been such a massive boom in the last 5 years – almost 2 million claims having been generated in that period.

Perhaps, then, the DWP fraud investigations should focus on all the claims for bad backs, dicky knees and “stress” (not to be confused with mental illness, as the Daily Mail is fond of doing), and similar difficult to disprove claims from the last five years – with such a massive increase in claims even I find it hard to accept they can all be genuine – and leave the rest of us lifers alone. Anyone surviving on IVB/IB for decades deserves a medal, not harassment…

Employment and Support Allowance – screwed again?

First of all, there is a load of ESA information here.

Anyone who thinks that life will be better when Employment and Support Allowance is probably in for a nasty shock. The government really has no interest in making your life – or mine – better. Quite the opposite.

The government’s stated aim is to get people off IB and, by extension, DLA, and into the employment market (and if you’re moved to UB you’re “officially” not disabled, and you can bank on your DLA claim being put at serious risk).

In reality they are fully aware that this will mean people now claiming IB will be shifted to Unemployment Benefit and, subsequently, Income Support, where they will remain as they will be unemployable (there will be an appeal process, presumably). No-one who has been on IB/IVB for, say, 2O years+, as I have, even if they were suddenly to become perfectly fit and well, will ever be employable – no employer in their right mind would take the risk, but the government cares about this not one iota. They don’t care about you, or me, all they care about is the numbers – and sucking up to the Daily Mail and its brain-damaged readership. If you think that’s a bit harsh, I suggest spending some time on their website, reading the comments from readers, especially in relation to articles concerned with disability benefits.

If you – or me, or anyone – is unemployable in the real world, that will matter not at all if they decide you should be employable, even if only theoretically. It’s all about reducing the number of disability benefit claims, and that’s all they care about – why else would they be disseminating all the disinformation about us, like two-thirds of us are perfectly able to work, or claimants under 35 are frauds? What about disabled kids then? They know it’s bollocks, we know it’s bollocks, but it makes them look ‘ard and it impresses the rabid readership of the Mail, who lap this stuff up – and you underestimate their influence at your peril.

Most, if not all, political commentators believe that Brown & Co. are vigorously and actively cultivating the Mail and its readers, as it’s the only friend they have left in the press – everyone else is backing Cameron (but don’t get the idea that the Conservatives will be any better – they won’t be). Impressing the Mail was the sole reason for upgrading cannabis recently – everyone else knows it’s nonsense – the only effect will be to create more criminals, grist to the Mail’s mill.

By the way, I’ve read that some people have been awarded hundreds of pounds a week extra on ESA, but my understanding is that ESAis not due to be introduced until October this year. Anyone out there know anything different?

There is one thing, more than any other, that makes me doubt the government’s honesty over ESA – where are all these jobs supposed to come from? They simply aren’t there – it’s merely a ruse to shift us onto cheaper, and less politically-sensitive benefits.

My personal view is that it will be harder to claim ESA than IB, and that’s hard enough, as the “capacity for limited work” criteria are savagely stringent, and almost anybody is capable of doing something at some point – god help anyone with ME if they’re assessed on a good day, because I seriously doubt that will be taken into account. See here for an overview of the criteria.

Personally, I’m relieved that I’ll probably be drawing my pension before I’m caught up in ESA, because there are days when – in theory at least – I am capable of work. The fact that travelling to a job would render me incapable of doing it will, I suspect, count for nothing. Nor will being unable to know, today, just how ill I’m going to be tomorrow (I mean, right now, typing this is a massive challenge, and there’s a risk I might puke all over my laptop, thanks to migraine). Hell, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get out of bed until I try, so how can I plan ahead for stuff like going out to work? I can’t even be sure of being well enough to go and visit my doctor. Indeed, I haven’t been, and I really need to. The capacity for limited work assessment is very unlikely to take account of any of this.

My opinion, when ESA arrives, is that most of us are in danger of being seriously screwed, as the only people safe from its depredations are those who meet the following conditions:-

1. You are suffering from a severe life threatening disease in relation to which there is medical evidence that the disease is uncontrollable, or uncontrolled, by a recognised therapeutic procedure; and in the case of a disease that is uncontrolled, there is a reasonable cause for it not to be controlled by a recognised therapeutic procedure.

2. You suffer from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and consequently there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if you were found not to have limited capability for work.

Consider clause No.1 – My ME, yours too, probably, is totally uncontrolled by a “recognised therapeutic procedure”, because there isn’t one, but seriously, how much ice do you think this will cut with DWP-appointed doctors who are probably completely ignorant of the condition? Bloody good luck with that!