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Thread: Word of warning ATOS assessments

  1. #1
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    Word of warning ATOS assessments

    Just wanted to forewarn others who are due to go for their assessments with ATOS especially.

    I filled in the initial PIP form, returned this, got sent a new PIP2 form, filled this with help from welfare advisor, returned this and got an assessment a week later.

    I was aware of the main aim of ATOS and that they are target driven to force people off the new disability benefit. The assessors apparently get awarded a bonus if they can find anything (I mean anything at all which I will go into in a bit) to assist the decision maker to use against the claimant to get them off the benefit.

    Cutting a long story short, I went with my mother to the assessment. I took my medication with me along with the appointment letter and ID. The assessor rolled up 25 minutes late as we could see her walking in the room whilst there were many of us waiting in the very small waiting room in this building on the Wirral. Receptionist scurried in after her and came out a few minutes later, then another 10 minutes passed before I was called into the room. She claimed she had some sort of hearing loss (80% hearing for 2 weeks) and this was 2 years ago and that she's on a nebuliser portable tank. (I have profound hearing loss and wear a cochlear implant, anxiety, asthma and so on). I found it unacceptable how she thought she knew what I would be talking about especially with my life long profound hearing loss to her 20% hearing loss she had for two weeks due to an ear infection. Laughable really. But continued with the assessment as I wanted it to be over.

    I always answered truthfully to her questions and she was typing that quick, I don't think she took it all in. Even my mother repeated and added a lot throughout and reminded me of things (and she said I didn't need promoting at all in assessment ha!) She asked very open probing questions. As a result of this, I mentioned I am at University however this was used against me in the decision reasoning. I can understand how this can be used against you but the fact that me and my mother said I had continuous support from the disability support at University, note takers, meeting with a one to one disability tutor weekly, meeting my tutors to go over what was said and so on was not considered. But I am able to go to University, they assumed I can do certain activities... I knew she would not understand my disability at all from the word get go. She was not capable or suitable to conduct this assessment.

    Not to mention her mobile phone went off under a piece of paper and I didn't hear it but she waited for me to look in the direction as this means I heard it. Unprofessional again.

    Decision maker said that I had engaged well throughout the assessment, maintained good eye contact, this was again used against me big time. I didn't maintain eye contact, I lip read. Again, for someone to have 20% hearing loss, I would have expected her to consider I would lip reading in order to communicate. My mother added a lot to what I said throughout. I needed a break however I wasn't allowed one but I can use the toilet and my cochlear implant broke 9 times in the assessment (as its faulty at the moment and cannot be fixed).

    I don't know how, but the decision maker said "evidence shows you got a grade C in English" was also used against me to make the assumption I can do the activity unaided. I just about obtained a grade C in English 7 years ago with a lot of help and support from the school. I thought the assessment was about here and now, not 7 years ago? Clearly another poorly educated assessor who thinks she knows what she's talking about when she really doesn't.

    I could go on and on but the point of this thread is that I wanted to warn potential claimants who would have to go through this ordeal. In hindsight, I wish I could have secretly recorded this. Even though its not allowed but not illegal. My mother phoned DWP and complained and asked for the assessment report and I am dreading on what she has put on it.

    THE ASSESSORS ARE NICE AND FRIENDLY AND CLAIM TO HAVE "SIMILAR" DISABILITIES OR IMPAIRMENTS AS YOU BUT THIS IS JUST TO GET YOU TO OPEN UP MORE.

    To finish, my claim form or medical evidence was not clearly considered in the decision reasoning. The whole lot is an absolute joke and extremely unfair. Not to mention how corrupt the process is for the disabled and vulnerable people.

    If I have helped at least one person and forewarned before going in the assessment, thats a job well done. All the best.

  2. #2
    I agree with your sentiments, based on my own experience. I have heard of some pretty straightforward assessments but usually done by nurses.

    No hard and fast rules but they can be unfair and profoundly uncomfortable experiences. Mine was triggering enough to cause a relapse and we filed an official complaint.

  3. #3
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    Its disgraceful. I was awarded pip for mental health illness but i had an agency with me looking after my interests. I have mixed bipolar. Some days it wouod be normal for me to say something to an assessor like, 'im feeling brilliant. on top of the world. Im goijg home to paint my flat, thrn my neighbours flat, make lunch for thr street, then get ready for a weekend on the town'.
    My doctor made sure i had a supporting agency attend assessment with me, as what assessor would be bothered to understand symptoms of bipolar when their like this?
    They score you on what comes out of your mouth at that particular time. Even my own doctor predicted this!
    I truly believe thst even if an assessor understood bipolar, they would view it as a gift finding me in an 'up cycle'. Regardless of the fact its a symptom of my condition, is not positive and completely exhausting.
    As it happens i was very ill at the time of assessment. It worked in my favour. But i know 100% id be in the appeals process now if my symptoms had been different that day!

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    I had an ATOS assessment back in March. My claim has been disallowed. I finally got a copy of the report this weekend and while the reporting of what I said at the assessment is reasonably accurate, the conclusions drawn and the stupid assumptions made beggar belief. I was awarded zero points for every single category.

    As it's election time you would think some politician somewhere would highlight this scandalous process. It's an absolute disgrace and I agree wholeheartedly with you.

    I am putting together a detailed document explaining why I disagree with their decision and I shall use their own ridiculous "activities" and "descriptors" against them. If they still won't budge, then it's off to a tribunal. I am sure an unbiased judge could be relied on to look at ALL the evidence fairly.

  5. #5
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    (I was meant to say prompting, not promoting. If only ha ha).

    It seems that from reading a few comments that there is a common thread that the assessments as they are, are not fit for purpose for many people.

    I'm sorry to hear that girlalmighty,I hope you get to the bottom of this.
    At least you know you're not the only one or few that this has happened to. Many of us are in the same boat and only the odd few are lucky enough to be listened to in assessments and that fair conclusions are drawn. Good luck sorting it out.

    Sandyp196 I'm glad in a sense it worked out in your favour although you had to go in on your worse day for the assessor to take note. It shouldn't be like this. But as we know, the chances are if you went in on a good day, you would have probably scored 0 for everything. Seems like they base the points awarded on how you are at the assessment. Even though they're 1 - 1/12 hour long, it's unsuitable to solely base judgements and conclusions on the persons ability to do whatever activities.

    I agree daviddsh, they must think they can get away with making conclusions out of context that you can do whatever activity. Their limited description of activities are pathetic. For example, cooking a simple meal. I've been told that activity is for people with mental or physical impairments. Although I don't have mental impairments as such, I honestly believe because I have to wear my cochlear implant to cook safely, I should score under "using aids" 2 point descriptor at least. I've had occasions where my mother had to intervene or rescue me in the kitchen because without using my aid, I usually forget that a pan over boils, the alarm is going off, the oven left on after I've finished etc. I genuinely do find this activity plus a few others difficult to do safely.

    If one says that certain activities are for people with certain impairments, then what happens to the reliability criteria in the law? Safely, repeatedly, timely manner and acceptable standard should always be considered when assessing each activity for the individual. They seems to forget this, certainly in my case.

    Good luck for those who are in the process of getting it sorted out.

  6. #6
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    did you ask for a MR chrisg11, my recent assessment sounds similar to your description. i got 0 points for all. being able to drive to asda alone and shop alone was stated as something i said in meeting. except id told assessor at start i had change in circumstances, i no longer had a car after that day as it was repossessed, and this affects my ability to get out house. and i havent been able to go shopping at all for months and even longer since going alone.
    that alone was in reason for denial in every question, as was, current medication suggests can do safely ect, but in part where medication is described he states, IBS medication partialy effective, and mental health medication not effective at all. ive sent in a MR with my reasons with a letter from gp using a template off internet describing the way to word thing,

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    My mother did scotgaz. I'm still waiting on a copy of my assessment report. We're also getting further detailed reports and graphs etc from my audiologist, counsellor, etc in the meantime whilst waiting for the assessment report to arrive.

    Just goes to show of the assessor's lack of understanding about your condition despite you having to repeat yourself at assessment, on the form backed up by evidence from GP. Its as if no matter how disabled one can be with a lot of needs, they're likely to be classed as able to do the activity. I think that some assessors would start to listen if go in totally famished, starved or whatever for them to listen. I'm sure there are a few good ones but where are they? The majority are incompetent to do the role.

    Best of luck with your MR, if that isn't successful, appeal it. If DWP want to waste even more taxpayers money and allow such legitimate claim like yours backed up with medical evidence, then what choice do we have. Money is being wasted on using ATOS and possibly Capita. But then again, seems to me that DWP have used the firms so that if or when it goes wrong, they can pass the blame on to them.

  8. #8
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    Also from what you said about not having a car and that it affects your ability to go out. I don't think they consider that as a reason for your limited ability to get out. If as you say, you have limited mobility, it would have to be as a result of your medical condition/impairment.

    You say you take mental health medication, if you have mental health impairments, that may be the reason for your limited mobility? My understanding is that the impairment/condition limits your mobility would score you points. I may be wrong but anyone even healthy people can say that not having a car means they can't get about as much. If you have an impairment or condition, how are you disadvantaged from getting out and about as well as others.

    If people go to asda, it's not as simple and straightforward as that for some people. What gets my goat is that they have not even bothered to consider everything in relation to going to Asda. The minute you say you go to asda, you've pretty much wasted your time and energy as they will just assume and draw silly conclusions that you can many activities.

    Best of luck sorting it out.

  9. #9
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    thanks for comments a support chris, mobility or lack of it is due to mental health issues, diagnosed with stress related anxiety issues, agoraphobia, long term chronic depression and social anxiety. telling the guy about no longer having car was when he asked how i got there i said id driven, he said something about getting out and about with no problems, so i quickly followed by saying i wouldnt have car after that day due to it being repossessed. then mentioned disgnosis of issues that relate to my mobility. so its not that not having a car affects mobility, but having a car helps me be able to leave house, if that makes sense.

    anxiety and agrophobic issues are with or around strangers and groups, more than 3-4 people even family and i need to leave. getting on a bus used to feel like being in a coffin, trapped, extreme panic attacks only thing in head is how to escape. havent even attempted public transport in over 5 years probably. when i had it , once in car, i feel safe, doors are locked, its same as i feel in house really. if there was group of kids between me and car from my house for example, id wait till they had moved before going out. and when driving im focused on one thing, the other million crap that goes round head is suppressed, not just driving that does that, if i get totally focused on one thing in the house a bomb could go off i wouldnt notice, im usually obsessed if im that focused, which aint really that good either.

    ive had all this crap since teenager, meds i was on were making IBS worse, and finding it hard to find new ones that dont aggravate it. like most people on here i would think, i/we know what triggers attacks or can feel if ones coming on long before it blows, so i/we dont put ourselves in that situation or leave situation quickly.

    check your report as soon as you get it, ive only just noticed pages 26 to 28 are missing from mine, and ive no idea what would be recorded on these pages. and take note of contradictions and answers that make no sense. apparently i can engage face to face with anyone because i can go to a one to one GP appointment??????

    to others as well be careful in the way you are asked questions, he asked me if i ever go outside in my pyjamas, i dont wear pyjamas, before i could say i sleep on chair in living room every night, if i sleep at all, and can have same clothes on for days and days, usually not changing till someone points out to me that i really need to get washed and put clean clothes on, he had written that he puts clean clothes on everymorning, and didnt record the rest after i got chance to say it.

    asked if i could go to a local shop to buy things, my answer was that i couldnt walk as far as local shops, and even if i could anxiety stuff would force me back home as soon as i started being around people. this changed to says he walks round local area but shops in supermarket.

    topping it al off the assessor, a physiotherapist, states i can eat and drink anything without help or aids, safely etc.etc.
    the IBS diagnosis is because they find no underlaying causefor all symptoms weight lossect, i havent eaten proper food, anything thats basically not liquid in a year and a half, top specialist in the country was asked to go over all evidence , he set up more tests and a final CT scan. final diagnosis notes its one of most extreme cases he's ever seen. but after an hour a physiotherapist decided that i can actually eat whatever i want.

    sry mate ive hijacked your thread for a rant, keep me posted on your situation and i hope youve got a good GP who will back you to the hilt, good luck bro

  10. #10
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    Hi Scotgaz, no not to worry you haven't hijacked my thread. I don't know much into IBS or mental health but from what you've said, its clear that you have some difficulties in doing some activities. I'm sorry to hear that you've got the conditions and I can honestly say I don't know how you've not been awarded anything. It seems that especially in the case of transitioning from DLA to PIP, you get automatically rejected like I did. Despite mine and my mother's protests in the assessment and claim form and medical evidence backing up my points under some activities, they've ignored and disregarded this then make some wild random conclusions that are out of context on the basis I can do the activity.

    I've been in contact with a deaf blind organisation called Sense and I've been informed that I should be scoring more points and getting at least a standard award for both components. If its not safe to do something, explain it. You should be considered as unable to do it. That's it. Nothing more or less.

    I am still waiting for my assessment report which was requested well over a week ago. Then I have around a week left to look at this, write a report/document on how I should meet the activities criteria and supply further evidence before the MR deadline. Not enough time really as I need longer to process information and to type this up in a word document. DWP are disgrace with the way they've handled this, allowing the majority of assessors to get away with murder literally, the time taken for MR (which is another 8-12 weeks of worry) not to mention the appeal process (although this is independent but only DWP can play ball or just carry on messing you around if you really should score more).

    I just want to get my entitlement so I can try and continue to live my normal daily life and that the extra costs of my disability are covered.

    With so many disabilities and health conditions around, it's hard to empathise however like yourself and I, we've explained as much as we can in a different ways (face to face, forms, reports etc) and they still turn down claims. I was very upset last week when I was informed of the decision that my DLA will be stopped soon and I won't be awarded PIP as I had DLA for such a long time. It was a shock to me as well. Oh well, I will be taking this all the way as this is unacceptable although it is causing me a lot of stress and worry.

    Good luck with yours well.

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