Would I pass the ESA WCA? Barely…

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 :-


23 thoughts on “Would I pass the ESA WCA? Barely…

  1. “For those who don’t know me,since 1959 I’ve lost every job I’ve had, bar 2, through excessive sick leave… 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…. 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.”

    I find it very sad that an obviously erudite individual should be condemned to such a life… His mind is sharp but his body has failed him.

    In what is alleged to be a modern country, with enlightened ideas and values, some of the ‘Red Top’ newspapers would still label Ron a serial benefit scrounger, a low life, worthy only of contempt and an example of much of what is wrong with our society, with an alleged ‘underclass’ choosing a life of benefits and hand outs over an honest day’s toil. We do not know Ron and the true extent of his disabilities and yet we collectively condemn all such people without bothering to find out the true facts.

    This, however, sells the situation short. Look at the tremendous example of those dealt an unfair hand in the Lottery of Life who go on to make something of themselves – like those incredible Para Olympians, geniune unalloyed heroes and heroines, like David Weir and Ellie Simmonds, who have fought incredible adversity and won through.

    Not everyone has the opportunity to excel in such a fashion but we must never forget the example shown to us by these stars.

    This should not be a seven days wonder. I find it incredibly humbling to see and hope that one of the benefits of this ‘period of enlightenment’ will be that we (and by ‘we’ I mean those who enjoy robust health, have a job etc) will perhaps understand finally that there are no ‘absolutes’, no defined definitions of what is, or is not a chronically disabled person (taking Ron’s examples above) or what is, or is not an athelete.

    • Cheers Frankie.

      And as I said this morning on Twitter, the able bodied community tends to forget one major point – the wrong bug, the wrong accident, or accident of birth, and they, or someone in their families, can so easily join us.

      We’re not separate communities – we’re two sides of the same very thin coin, and the future is so very unpredictable . . .


  2. For quite a number of years i have been involved in disability groups and we have tried to get people more involved-go to meetings-join clubs but it is very restrictive for disabled people. First there is the travel expenses, pay someone to support/help get ready etc-it is not easy to sort this out even for doctors/hospital appointments/shopping etc never mind any social gathering. It has now become impossible due to loosing small grant from council-all voluntary groups are folding-it has got really bad.

    • For me the killer is taxi fare. Once the hospital arranged 5 visits in quick succession. Aside from the fact that they were at impossible times, the £100 taxi fare was out of the question.

  3. “Without even trying too hard, I racked up 115 points on the ESA50, including a bunch of 15-pointers, and that was the end of it.”

    At the risk of being labelled a pedant :-), did you not mean to write IB50 in the above sentence?

  4. Can I correct you on one point Ron? You state that, and I quote, “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 15 point answers mean you are automatically entitled to go into the Support Group, is a common misconception. In fact, you have to meet certain descriptors, as detailed here http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-glossary/1353-support-group-descriptors I think this is why there are so many people out there, who think they should be in the SG but aren’t, hence your thinking that it’s pot luck. I met a few of the SG descriptors, and was, thankfully, put in the SG (and yes, I also had quite a few 15 point answers too).

    From what I can gather, the new PIP Form questions are to be even more ‘stringent’ than the ESA50. Something else to look forward to – not.

      • Maybe so, but when you say “should have put me in the Support Group (as should any 15-point answer)” people will assume that if they get 15 points, they will be put in the SG, which is wrong.

        • Any 15-point answer should get the support group.

          I don’t mean an accrued 15 points, but 15 for a single answer – which is what I made clear.

          • That’s just the point though Ron. Any single 15 point answer doesn’t mean that you will get put in the SG. And that’s where people get confused.

            You only get put in the SG if you meet the descriptors. ATOS or the DWP don’t take the points into account for the SG.

            The points you score are only used to decide if you go on Job Seekers or WRAG.

              • Not correct. The Support Group criteria are a set of descriptors, similar to those that are the 15 pointers for the ESA50, but not necessarily identical. For example, if you could manage to mobilise 30 metres, but not 50 metres, you’d get 15 points, but wouldn’t meet the Support Group descriptor for mobility.

                • OK – been checking – there are some sub-15-point descriptors that get you on the support group, but my basic premise – that the 15 points for being unable walk 50 metres would have got me there is actually correct – nothing I’m seeing contradicts that. It’s just the WCA as it would affect me and me only, and on that basis I stand by what I wrote. Other people would doubtless get different results – or even the same. I’m not talking about the WCA in any general way at all, but quite specifically as it relates only to me.

                  • In your particular case, yes, you should be put in the SG. I just wanted to clarify that it’s the descriptors, not the points, that define who is put in the SG.

  5. Thank you for this post Ron.
    It is extremely interesting to me because I have had the “pleasure” of filling in 3 ESA50 so far before complaining of harassment and being left alone for the past 18 months or so.
    In that time the form has changed. (The last one I filled in was a week before the new ESA50 form was introduced).
    For one thing it is now available in electronic format, a great thing for people like me who cannot write and campaigned on this issue.
    However it seems they snuck in other changes, removing things which helped people fill it in “properly”. For instance in manual dexterity I am pretty certain they used to mention books as an example as well as a range of other things including using an unadapted mouse and keyboard. There were also slightly more “intermediate” questions. Not many, admittedly, but certainly more than there are here.
    Now while the ESA50 is only one step in the procedure, given that medical records cannot be taken into account and that the medical assessment is often such a bad experience it is clear there is a big problem here.

  6. damned stupid not taking medical records into account. why do they think we are disabled/or ill for gods sake? who told us,we were and classed us as such? those who keep our medical records updated. how can anyone say we can do tis that or tother with no records to prove/disprove it?

      • i was brought up to be honest. as were most people. we are supposed to be a God fearing country. our parents must be turning in their graves at how we as a country are being treated now.. but this ..sorry…these … morons are making it impossible for people to BE honest. if they are they will be penalised.if they exagerate its tantamount to lying. dunno if your religious Ron. but wether or not, if there is such a thing as the devil, then hes really running amok in britain.. and his names are cameron,lansley,IDS,osbourne,clegg ,hunt among others.

        • Hugo-I could not have put it better myself. I have got to 70yr of age (25yrs Lyme disease, chronic asthma) and cannot believe the corruption that exists in government-shoot them I say cos they are nothing but traitors to country and people that have died fighting in their name.

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