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Thread: ESA Form Agoraphobia/Social Anxiety/Depression - GP Letter

  1. #1

    Question ESA Form Agoraphobia/Social Anxiety/Depression - GP Letter

    I am in the process of completing my ESA50 reassessment - have been in the Support Group of ESA for around 4 years now. Fortunately in that time I had one face to face assessment which was a home visit in early 2012 and as I say was put in the Support Group. When I renewed my ESA50 in 2014 I was awarded SG again and no face to face assessment was carried out so decision made on paper evidence. My GP included a letter with a brief statement stating that "This lady suffers from anxiety and depression for many years combined with agoraphobia and social phobia. She avoids social contact as this causes her distress and puts her mental health at risk of deteriorating. She is on medication for her condition."
    Can you please advise if this wording would still be found appropriate for Maximus Decision Makers or would my GP have to go into much more detail and make reference to specific descriptors ie no.35? I am one of those lucky people who has a supportive GP but I would feel very awkward having to ask her to write something more specific and detailed as it would feel like I am telling her what to write if that makes sense?
    I would really appreciate your advice as I have an appointment to see my doctor on Monday 17th April 2016.
    Kind regards.

  2. #2
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    Not sure if this would be helpful for you, but I used this formprovided by Rethink Mental Illness (my doctor completed it) along with other evidence as I suffer form anxiety and depression combined with agoraphobia and social phobia.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenai66 View Post
    Not sure if this would be helpful for you, but I used this formprovided by Rethink Mental Illness (my doctor completed it) along with other evidence as I suffer form anxiety and depression combined with agoraphobia and social phobia.
    I am always wary of these forms as many of the questions expect an understanding of the daily life of the claimant which actually can only be given by the claimant themselves.

    Did you see the answers the doctor gave? I would have expected the doctor to have written either ' my patient tells me.......' or ***** (the descriptor point) is an expected(?/usual outcome/experience(?) of someone suffering at the degree of ***** that my patient has'.

    Not saying the form isn't useful but a lot of doctors might refuse to complete it unless they used phrases such as these.

    Sorry about the vocabulary - am sure the medical terms are better than mine!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmlindyloo View Post
    I am always wary of these forms as many of the questions expect an understanding of the daily life of the claimant which actually can only be given by the claimant themselves.

    Did you see the answers the doctor gave? I would have expected the doctor to have written either ' my patient tells me.......' or ***** (the descriptor point) is an expected(?/usual outcome/experience(?) of someone suffering at the degree of ***** that my patient has'.

    Not saying the form isn't useful but a lot of doctors might refuse to complete it unless they used phrases such as these.

    Sorry about the vocabulary - am sure the medical terms are better than mine!
    I can see where you are coming from with this. My doctor is very supportive and understands my issues as I see her fairly regularly. She wrote a supporting letter and completed this (my family spoke with Rethink and they advised using it in addition to doctors letter) without me actually being present - she did however call me regarding two of the questions to confirm they kind of didn't apple to me.

    Its basically an additional resource to use. I was placed in WRAG group after WCA, obviously I can't "pin down" whether it was mostly evidence based or fitting the required descriptors, I need to look at my ESA85 when I receive it.

  5. #5
    Thank you pmlindyloo and kenai66

    I still feel extremely awkward about trying to ask my GP how to word her supporting letter of medical evidence and unsure as to how most GP's are able to go into enough detail to show how their patient's illness meets specific activities and descriptors unless they were fortunate enough to have extremely lengthy medical appointments whereby the patient could go into graphic detail explaining it all. Do the DWP expect GP's to have an in depth understanding of the ESA process and the ESA50 questionnaire, I am pretty sure my GP doesn't! I am sure that if I even attempted to explain REG 29 exceptional circumstances and REG35 substantial risk she would not understand what I was going on about!!
    Unfortunately I haven't got a copy of the ESA85A or LT54 from my previous assessment to refer to (but have just made a SAR for this information) but I am assuming that the SG descriptor number 13 COPING WITH SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT may have been met by the level of my social anxiety disorder thereby placing me in the SG? The level of my anxiety disorder means that I even struggle with answering the telephone and I have outlined this in my ESA50 which I assume would have previously precluded me from even telephone based WFIs so would have been exempt from even LWC related activities.
    I am hoping to show the DWP that my condition has not improved since I last completed an ESA50 and that I meet REG 35 in the hope that I remain in the Support Group however I understand that it is not enough for your GP to state that being found fit for work would mean your mental health would deteriorate even further but specific detail has to be provided. How far do the DWP want us to go with describing "substantial risk" in order to meet the Support Group criteria and with regards to mental health conditions? If your GP has stated your mental health would deteriorate even further if found fit for work or fit for limited capability for work is that no longer acceptable to DWP and the only other "substantial risk" remaining is that of self-harm or worse?!

    My life is only manageable at the moment due to there being very limited restrictions/parameters to my lifestyle which enables me to cope/exist day to day. I am in my 50's, separated, live on my own, ESA is my only form of income and have suffered with depression for 12 years and agoraphobia and social anxiety for 6 years. My last ESA50 was completed just under 2 years ago with no improvement in my health is it mis-guided of me to think that the evidence provided in my last ESA50 is still applicable as long as my GP is confirming this?

    Sorry to be rambling on but my appointment has been brought forward to this Friday 15th April and I really do feel unprepared to see my GP and explain myself clearly. Any clarification and help would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ditzee View Post
    Thank you pmlindyloo and kenai66

    I still feel extremely awkward about trying to ask my GP how to word her supporting letter of medical evidence and unsure as to how most GP's are able to go into enough detail to show how their patient's illness meets specific activities and descriptors unless they were fortunate enough to have extremely lengthy medical appointments whereby the patient could go into graphic detail explaining it all. Do the DWP expect GP's to have an in depth understanding of the ESA process and the ESA50 questionnaire, I am pretty sure my GP doesn't! I am sure that if I even attempted to explain REG 29 exceptional circumstances and REG35 substantial risk she would not understand what I was going on about!!
    Unfortunately I haven't got a copy of the ESA85A or LT54 from my previous assessment to refer to (but have just made a SAR for this information) but I am assuming that the SG descriptor number 13 COPING WITH SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT may have been met by the level of my social anxiety disorder thereby placing me in the SG? The level of my anxiety disorder means that I even struggle with answering the telephone and I have outlined this in my ESA50 which I assume would have previously precluded me from even telephone based WFIs so would have been exempt from even LWC related activities.
    I am hoping to show the DWP that my condition has not improved since I last completed an ESA50 and that I meet REG 35 in the hope that I remain in the Support Group however I understand that it is not enough for your GP to state that being found fit for work would mean your mental health would deteriorate even further but specific detail has to be provided. How far do the DWP want us to go with describing "substantial risk" in order to meet the Support Group criteria and with regards to mental health conditions? If your GP has stated your mental health would deteriorate even further if found fit for work or fit for limited capability for work is that no longer acceptable to DWP and the only other "substantial risk" remaining is that of self-harm or worse?!

    My life is only manageable at the moment due to there being very limited restrictions/parameters to my lifestyle which enables me to cope/exist day to day. I am in my 50's, separated, live on my own, ESA is my only form of income and have suffered with depression for 12 years and agoraphobia and social anxiety for 6 years. My last ESA50 was completed just under 2 years ago with no improvement in my health is it mis-guided of me to think that the evidence provided in my last ESA50 is still applicable as long as my GP is confirming this?

    Sorry to be rambling on but my appointment has been brought forward to this Friday 15th April and I really do feel unprepared to see my GP and explain myself clearly. Any clarification and help would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards.
    Hi D
    Just wondering why you are relying on your GP so much. Is there no other qualified person/s who deal with your limitations?

  7. #7
    Hi TanyaG

    No I did have counselling but it came to an end - sessions were thin on the ground but due to my social anxiety and agoraphobia it was extremely difficult to attend these sessions. I only have support of my GP.

  8. #8
    I would have thought your gp would have refered you to a mental health team by now tbh.
    I was diagnosed with post natal depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder last year and after trying sessions with an NHS councillor (useless made me worse!) I have now been refered to the mental health team and see a psychiatric nurse next month for assessment.
    Granted my health issues are also physical which I see a psychologist for, but mental health is still very debilitating and needs appropriate treatment.
    The DWP have been known to not take mental health too seriously unless there is specialist involvement. ATOS even confirmed this to me.
    They like to see you at least try to get well or find better ways of coping. Then if it didn't work it didn't work but they will take you more seriously if specialists are or have been involved.
    Just what I've come across recently.

    Maybe worth asking your gp about your local mental health team as they should at least give you a care plan which then is good evidence for your esa claim and a possible future pip claim?

  9. #9
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    I agree with Fluffy, I got the same kind of feedback from my WCA assessor regarding specialised support.
    I'm afraid I'm not much help to you on this Ditzee as I am also kind of in the same process, I'm awaiting my form ESA50 to consider doing my MR. My illness is similar to your own although mines was due to mental breakdown last September (I had previous issues earlier in my life)
    Luckily my family are very supportive and are at my home daily due to their concern in my welfare, I'm in my early 50s too. It must be very difficult if you are managing this on your own
    I'm sure someone more experienced will be along soon, but in meantime perhaps you could check to see if there are any support groups for your condition in your locality which maybe able to offer advice? And with reference to your doctor - as much as I found it extremely difficult going into detail and opening up my issues with my doc (I'm a pretty proud bloke) it was the best thing I could of done even though it was difficult. My very life would of been in jeopardy tbh if I didn't, but that push I needed came from my extremely worried family.
    Good luck with everything, I am sure you'll get it sorted out. Just don't get too worried about things- it doesn't help your health or state of mind (I know easier said that done)

  10. #10
    Thank you Fluffybunny80 and kenai66. I am seeing my GP tomorrow and have decided to just see what she has to say on the matter. I will take it from there as I don't know what the situation is at the moment as to what the waiting times are for further help and my agoraphobia and the fact that I live on my own with no family makes it very difficult to attend meetings as I need someone to accompany me. It's getting the stage now where I already feel weary of the process and in its early re-assessment stage. I feel like it is all out of my control and will have to accept whatever decision the DWP make. Just want to say a big thank you to the people who have taken the time and trouble to read and respond to my queries as it is much appreciated.

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