In theory, and based on the form alone, that is, but not easily, and I might still be summoned for a medical were I still of working age. Based on what I’ve read, and heard, from people who have been through the system, the result of that is very much pot luck.
It’s also fair to say that unless an assessor is expert in pulmonology, cardiology, rheumatology, gastrology, and ME, they are simply not qualified to assess me.
For those who don’t know me,since 1959 I’ve lost every job I’ve had, bar 2, through excessive sick leave. In 1980, a Department of Health doctor told me I should give up work. I should have listened. By 1986, work was impossible and, anyway, with my record I was unemployable. I applied for and got Invalidity Benefit and Mobility Allowance (later to become IB and DLA), and the rest is history. Now, I’m terminally ill, so it’s probably a good test of this form.
In 2008 I was reassessed for Incapacity Benefit, presumably because some jobsworth thought an incurable and progressive illness would magically go away. IB50 was the IB WCA form, and appeared to originate in an entirely different universe to the ESA50. An honest universe.
Without even trying too hard, I racked up 115 points on the IB50, including a bunch of 15-pointers, and that was the end of it.
I’ve just, out of idle curiosity, gone through the ESA50, using the notes published by Durham CC for scoring purposes. I managed 45 points, and 6 of those were stretching a point. And bear in mind that I’m a hell of a lot sicker now than I was in 2008
However, the 15-pointer – inability to “mobilise” for more than 50 metres – should have put me in the Support Group (as should any 15-point answer). That mobilise worries me – most people would assume it means walk as, indeed, would I, but does it really means, as it suggests, moving by any means possible, from crawling to using a wheelchair? It does seem to leave scope for ad hoc interpretation. I doubt it’s accidental.
But here’s the thing, the questions which covered almost every aspect of basic physical functionality in the IB50 are completely missing from the ESA50, hence the low score; the walking distance has been increased from 40 to 50 metres, and those questions that are present differ considerably from what the ESA Regulations say they should be (I have a document detailing these differences. It’s too big to post here, but the following screencaps can be downloaded and put together easily enough).
Aside from the fact that the ESA50 doesn’t even comply with the ESA assessment regulations (a breach of the law, surely – what’s the point of regulations if they can be ignored at will?), the questions, as they stand, militate against a successful claim. And quite deliberately so, too – you couldn’t produce a form of such staggering incompetence accidentally.
Consider this question (the right answer is worth 15 points):-
Engagement in social contact is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual.
It’s garbage. If it had stopped after the word “precluded” it would have applied to vastly more people who, like me, for whom meeting, never mind relating to, others actually is precluded. For example, in the last 2 years I’ve met one new person, and that was because, a few weeks ago, I went to a different pub for my occasional “way too much beer” session.
Well, OK, I meet a few taxi drivers, but as it’s mostly the backs of their heads, it doesn’t count!
Note: I know that question comes under “Coping with social engagement due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder,” I’m just making a point. There is no equivalent in the “physical” section and there bloody should be.
Then there’s the question about how well I can turn on a tap. The taps here are fitted with geared handles, which makes them easy to turn. Whether I can turn on a normal tap depends on one thing – how tightly it’s been turned off. On that basis, the question is meaningless.
Disclaimer: I have no dog in this fight as I’m past retirement age – just reporting the facts.
So, anyway, here’s the document referred to above. They’re in sequence, so just enlarge and copy and paste into Word or whatever. Use the Back button to return :-