Hi,

I would be very grateful for some advice as I have just got a letter stating that I have been placed in WRAG of esa without having to go through the ordeal of an atos medical. I did send in a very detailed esa50 and supporting doctors letters.

I do feel because of the social phobia condition that I suffer from and the distress caused if I am ever placed in a social situation (that I will usually try to avoid at all costs) that I should appeal to be considered for the support group as this is one of the descriptors for it.

As it stands I would loose the ESA after a year because of the 365 day rule and I wouldn't be entitled to any means tested benefit

When reading the social engagement descriptor for support group eligibility it states


Engagement in social contact is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual

My social phobia is such that I don't have a social life and feel very distressed if having to be present in a situation where I have to intereact with other people, even people that I know well.

I sweat heavily tremble and feel humiliated and even feel suicidal afterwards for letting myself down, and these feelings can last for weeks afterwards.

I can though visit my GP dentist and do shopping usually as I feel very little personal interaction is taking place and my Gp is not out to judge me

I would really appreciate your advice if you think there is any point appealing.


Does it mean that a claimant will only fall within the above descriptor if for example is never able to go to dentist, doctor speak to neighbours, or simply that doing so will cause a lot of distress to the claimant?

I do understand that should the decision maker uphold the existing decision and If I want to take it to the tribunal that it can go either way including losing the wrag.

Someone on another forum has kindly posted this case law case,

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CSE/22/2013 — Correct approach to applying ‘coping with social engagement’ descriptor and ‘substantial risk’ provision for ESA support group


[2013] UKUT 152 (AAC)

Background

The claimant suffered with severe anxiety and depression which made him very reclusive. It was determined that he had limited capability for work without the need for an examination by a health care professional for the purposes of his claim to employment and support allowance (ESA), but that he did not satisfy any of the descriptors in schedule 3 to the Employment and Support Regulations 2008 to allow him to be placed into the support group.

The claimant’s appeal was dismissed by a tribunal who decided that neither descriptor 13 of schedule 3 (social engagement), nor regulation 35(2) (substantial risk to health if claimant found not to have limited capability for work-related activity) applied. He appealed to the Upper Tribunal.

Issues before the Upper Tribunal

Was the tribunal’s decision erroneous in law in relation to their application of descriptor 13 and regulation 35(2)?

Decision

Judge Parker decided that the tribunal’s reasoning was erroneous in law and set aside their decision. The appeal was remitted for rehearing by a new tribunal.

Reasons

Regulation 34(2) states that a descriptor applies if it applies for the majority of the time, or on the majority of occasions the claimant attempts to undertake the relevant activity. Descriptor 13 applies if engagement in social contact ‘is always precluded’. The tribunal held that the descriptor did not apply because the claimant had dealt with a health care professional and was able to attend his GP’s surgery and the tribunal hearing. They also decided that regulation 35(2) did not apply because he was able to cope with a work-related interview at the Jobcentre.

The Judge held that the tribunal’s approach was flawed. She made the following points in relation to the correct application of the regulations in this case -
•Descriptor 13 of schedule 3 was identical to descriptor 16(a) of schedule 2 and the decision-maker and tribunal should have made clear whether the claimant satisfied the latter, or had been awarded points under other descriptors.
•There was a tension between the wording of regulation 34(2) and descriptor 13 of schedule 3. The Judge rejected the submission of the Secretary of State that the wording of the latter precluded the application of the former. With reference to the dictionary definition of the word , ’always’, he held that in the context of the descriptor it meant ‘repeatedly’, ‘persistently’ or ‘often’, rather than ‘at all times’. The reference to ‘majority’ in regulation 34(2) had to be construed to take account of this. It therefore required a greater frequency than 50.1% but it was for a fact-finding tribunal to determine whether the required frequency was reached in any particular case, applying the rules in a common sense way.
•The Judge held that ‘social engagement’ for the purposes of Activity 13 of schedule 3 included both informal and formal engagement (e.g. with professionals, including doctors and tribunal members).
•The tribunal’s reasoning in this case in relation to descriptor 13 was flawed because the claimant had not, in fact, seen a health care professional and his GP had confirmed that he was rarely able to attend his surgery (although his attendance and participation in the hearing did constitute social contact or engagement).
Commissioner / Judge: Parker

Date of decision: 26 February, 2013

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Trying to read between the lines in the above the "always" in the social
phobia esa seems to be replaced by a percentage great than 50%

Any advice gratefully appreciated.
many thanks
John