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Thread: ESA Telephone Assessment

  1. #1

    ESA Telephone Assessment

    Hello Everyone,

    New here and many thanks for adding me! New at claiming benefits too, so please bear with me if I might have certain things/terminology wrong!

    My ESA (cont-based) payments have already ended (365 day limit reached), but I was never put into any group. DWP recently sent a letter telling me to lodge an ESA MR if I disagreed with their decision to end the claim. I rang the DWP to tell them that the ESA (cont-based) might've continued had I been placed in the SG. They said even if I lodged an ESA MR there was nothing they could do and to wait for an assessment (WCA?) date in the post. I ignored this verbal information, went with what they put in writing and lodged an ESA MR.

    Since lodging the ESA MR, they've written to say that I have to attend a telephone assessment and, admittedly, I'm terrified. I originally sent the ESA50 back with a letter from one of the CMHT who are supporting me. Then, I sent another supporting letter from a different member of the CMHT, along with a referral letter to a Consultant for a severe and debilitating skin condition, with the ESA MR.

    What else do they want from me? Does this mean that they've already made up their minds that I won't qualify for the SG? Is it worth putting myself through this assessment? This has been going on for almost 15 months and I've provided fit notes this entire time (even my GP is annoyed).

    Apologies, but I just haven't been able to sleep or calm down since I got the letter about the telephone assessment. Any advice would be gratefully received.

    Kind regards,

    Amy
    Last edited by AnxiousAmy; 28-02-21 at 03:12.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Hi Amy,

    Yours is a problem that we are now starting to see because Covid lockdowns have gone on for so long.

    Because it's been going on so long the 365 days limit has started to be reached for some New Style ESA claims, and so payments stop if you have not yet been assessed as being in Support Group.

    It's not something that the DWP can reconsider because it's what the law says, and the DWP can't change the law.

    But you may have noticed that the DWP don't explain things very well.

    Only the government could change that law. (You could complain to you MP if you feel up to it).
    Some of the big welfare organisations are already complaining to the government about it.

    The law as it stands, combined with covid lockdown, is now leaving some new ESA claimants such as yourself in a kind of limbo.
    But there is something that you should be able to do to help yourself.

    To get back to what you should be doing now:

    Your ESA claim has not been closed, nothing has been decided yet and it's just waiting until you can have an assessment, which will probably be by telephone.

    So yes, it is important that you still have that telephone assessment.

    We know that assessments can be stressful especially the first time, but they are important, so grit your teeth and do your best.

    Remember that they are not a medical - they are about why you are unable to work, not about what conditions you have but about why those conditions stop you from working.
    Don't try to make out that you can cope better than you can, tell the truth, and don't be embarassed to tell things as they are.
    (As a gross example: if you shit yourself every half hour then say so; you are never going to meet the assessor anyway).

    If that assessment finds that you are in Support Group then you will start to be paid ESA again, and get backpay from when it stopped being paid.
    If it finds that you are not in Support Group then that's it and the ESA claim ends. (You could then appeal about that).

    What you need to do now, if you haven't already, is claim Universal Credit to get some money coming in now.

    Let them know when making the UC claim that you are unable to work for health reasons, and that you are already claiming New Style ESA, but that ESA has stopped payment after 365 days without any assessment/decision being made yet.

    Claiming UC will not stop the New Style ESA claim from continuing.
    If your ESA assessment does find you to be in Support Group then you will also get extra money added to your Universal Credit. (but what you then get paid as ESA will be deducted from the UC payments).
    If your ESA assessment does not find you to be in Support Group then the UC will just continue to be paid as it is.

    Overall though you will be better off claiming UC now as well as doing the ESA assessment, whatever happens.

    Just to check that you can claim UC: Do you have a working partner, or savings/capital above £16,000?
    Last edited by nukecad; 28-02-21 at 15:49.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  3. #3
    Hello Nukecad,

    Many thanks for your detailed response it's very much appreciated. Please excuse my delay in replying (I've been very unwell of late and couldn't muster the energy to go online). To answer your last questions, unfortunately I don't qualify for UC (no partner and savings/capital above £16,000).

    I had the ESA WCA telephone assessment over a fortnight ago and haven't received any written response regarding the outcome yet. However, I submitted my 14th fit note the other day and received a text message response from the DWP. It states that they received the fit note, received the details of my WCA, told me not to send any more fit notes, that payments will continue as normal and that there's no need to contact them.

    As per my original post, the ESA (cont-based) payments already ended in January 2021 (365 day limit reached). I still don't know whether or not I've been put in the ESA SG (so that payments can restart and continue), or that the claim's open but no payments. Should I contact them to find out what's happening, or wait for something in writing in the post? It's just so stressful telephoning them that I avoid it at all costs.

    Thanks again,

    Amy
    Last edited by AnxiousAmy; 23-03-21 at 15:01.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Hard to tell, but as they have said they don't want anymore fit notes that's usually a sign that a decision has been made.

    The bit about 'payments continuing as norma'l is just standard phrasing because they never expected anyone to be in the situation where payments stopped after 365 days without a WCA decision.

    You could grit your teeth and ring them to ask what's happening, but I'd probably leave it a week or so to see if a letter turns up.

    As you know if you are awarded Support Group (LCWRA) then your ESA payments will start again and you'll get a wodge of backpay.
    I don't know everything. - But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.

    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here for information.

  5. #5
    Really can't face ringing them, I'll leave it a week or so and see if anything arrives in the post.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond, means a lot, especially to someone who's never dealt with the DWP before.

    Best wishes,

    Amy

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