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DWP: Health Assessment Face to Face


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Dear All,

 

It's 10 months (actually to the day :-D ) since I had my SAH, and I'm still not back at work. I am fortunate to have some income protection through work but part of it I have to claim from the DWP (department of work and pensions). Though initially they approved my claim I have now been requested to attend a face to face assessment (this was after completing a written health questionnaire). I am a little bit concerned about this as the limited experience we have of this via my brother in law who had a severe stroke is that they are not empathetic to brain injuries and the impact on our ability to work. 

 

I just wondered whether anyone else had been through this assessment recently, and had any advice or words of encouragement?

 

I've been advised to audio record the session so I have a record of the discussion. Also my GP said not to be disheartened if my claim is rejected and that I should appeal as for a lot of folks this has a positive outcome.

 

Wish me luck!

 

Cheers

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The advice to appeal is very good as is the advice to record the session.  The scoring is done on a points basis and the criteria have recently been tightened up I believe.  Nevertheless, the assessments are done by doctors or nurses working to a script.  A letter from your own doctor detailing your inability to work will be a help - make sure you keep a copy of it for yourself.

 

The doctors and nurses will not likely be experts in mental health but they will say they are merely asking you the questions DWP wants answering and it is DWP who will make the decisions about whether they will find you fit for work. Demand a copy of the assessment when DWP have made their decision using Data Protection law as the reason you are entitled to it.  They should then release it to you if they haven't already.

 

These decisions are made by Decision Makers who are not medically qualified either which is why it is advisable to appeal and let a tribunal decide.  However, if you now appeal, they 'review' their decision before they let you before a tribunal, to see if any actions or decisions require changing. Time limits are strict and you should make sure your appeal reaches them within time limits - send by 'recorded delivery.'

 

If you are tempted to ring them up, don't.  Insist on everything in writing, tribunals love documents. If you do call, record the telephone conversation if you can and the date, time and who you spoke to.  Demand to know what legislation they are using so it can be checked to see if they have applied them correctly - you'd be amazed at how many times they get it wrong and at how many times they can't retrieve phone calls or deny the calls actually took place.  Many of the questions are contradictory, especially about lifting and bending.  If the doctor wants you to change seats be careful, it isn't out of pleasantness, it's to check your mobility and ability to transfer on your own.

 

All of this will take time I'm afraid, and there is no guarantee you will win, but to have a chance you must be meticulous in presenting your case if the decision goes against you.  You only have to keep your eyes on the press to see some of the horrendous decisions they have made. On the positive side they were losing over 60% of cases, so there is hope and they weren't even turning up to some.

 

It's not about your welfare or your ability to work, it is about cutting the benefit bill to the state.  Medical opinion from your doctor is advised as 'professional medical opinion' is a useful tool from a person of equal or superior qualification to combat their side's opinion.

 

Good luck

 

Macca

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Greg, your Gp is correct in that if you fail to be awarded ESA then you can ask for a mandatory consideration and if you fail that you can go on to a tribunal.

 

Be aware though that it is not the person with whom you have the face to face interview who says if ESA is awarded or not, it is the Decision Maker at DWP and the assessors are notorious for putting the opposite to what you say. When you arrive at the assessment centre you will be watched all of the time, even from leaving your car. Just like Big Brother

It is advisable to take someone with you too.

 

Regarding the recording, you have to book it with the assessors in advance and their own equipment is used. Covert recordings are not allowed and should you be caught will invalidate the assessment. Covert recording cannot be used as evidence.

 

Look at the top of this forum and there are stickies with links to forums that will give you more information about this. One of them I strongly recommend you join for free http://www.youreable.com/forums/forum.php  where there is a wealth of knowledge. Have a look round that forum and feel free to ask any questions

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Hello Greg- I am in u.s. but Macca's and Super's explanations and personal experiences sound remarkedly like what happens over here. First let me get this off of my chest= Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy! Don't get me started. Wait! I started it myself.

 

My request for financial and medical assistance took 3 appeals before it was approved. I was glad since my 8 weeks stay for SAH was 1.4 million dollars - sorry my head won't let me do conversions this moment.
The most important thing is that you do not give up. Appeal as much as possible.you don't need to add this to your recovery. I have a feeling things will most likely to work out for you ☺

 

Take care. Remember your health and piece of mind are way and beyond any bureaucracy they throw at you.

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Hi Greg,

 

Like you I had my SAH around 10 months ago and have been off work since. I am fortunate enough to get quite good sick pay as I work in the public sector, however I started claiming contribution based ESA when I ran out of statutory sick pay. The contribution based ESA is the one you can get from having paid full National Insurance - I can't claim the income assessed one as my husband works full time.

 

I also had to complete the medical questionnaire and was then sent a letter saying I had to attend a meeting at my local jobcentre to discuss my return to work as I had been placed in the 'work related activity group' (I am not sure if this is the same as what you are having to go to?). In my case I believe this was because I do have a job to go back to and my currently working with an occupational therapist to achieve this.

I went along to this meeting with my husband and all documentation I had about what had happened to me. The meeting actually went fairly well and the man I saw was sympathetic. You are meant to attend the job centre once a fortnight on the work-related ESA but he was willing to simply ring me at home instead (to be fair this is also because I am currently still banned from driving and therefore can't get to the jobcentre). He approved me to still get the ESA whilst I am working on returning to work.  

 

I think your GPs advice to record the session is a very good one - then if you don't get the outcome you want you have the evidence to appeal. My husband and I always discuss what outcome we want from these things beforehand so that when we go along we are both clear on what we want to achieve - this also helps me with my memory issues and slow speed of though processing.

Make sure you have all your evidence together and know what you want as an outcome from the meeting. As far as I am aware you can claim the contribution based ESA for a year regardless of circumstances etc. so you ought to be able to get that. If you are working towards returning to your previous job also take along any evidence of that as well.

 

I hope it all goes well for you and you get the outcome you are looking for.

 

Good luck!

Gemma x

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Thanks All (Macca, Super M, Carolyn and Gemma) for your advice it is all appreciated. 

 

Don't worry I'm not going to covertly record the meeting, I will ask them for this to be done (a job for tomorrow), and will request a copy of the report if it doesn't automatically get sent to me. 

 

Carolyn, my god, when I hear things like that, your medical bill, despite some of the flaws in our NHS I am so grateful we have it. 

 

It is so frustrating to know, as Macca highlighted this is all about trying to reduce the budget of the DWP. I am just a little surprised that they are bothering with me as I am still technically employed, I am as Gemma is, working with a number of people including OT to get back to work. It is just the contribution based ESA that I am receiving but in there days of financial crisis, I guess any money that can be saved.

 

We started doing some other prep and research today. Thanks, there was some good advice there to go in knowing what you want to achieve, and how you are going to do it. Anyway, I'm not having the assessment till the 4th of December, so some time to prep and worry probably in equal measure!

 

Thanks all again

 

greg

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Greg, I think I am correct in saying, if you get contribution based ESA, which you should as you have been working, it will be added to any other income you have and the full amount of income is taxable, less your personnel allowance of course. You will have to inform the tax office and your tax code will be amended accordingly as tax will not be taken off ESA but your other income. 

 

If you don't inform the tax man then you will get a bill for a lump sum after the tax year ends.

Just makes life easier to pay as you get the money.

 

Just keep that in mind when you get the award or tell HMRC now if you are on the assessment rate.

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Greg,

 

I know nothing about claiming, the only thing I can remember is when 14 and epilepsy had reared it's ugly head, at 16 I had to go to the employment office and see their Doctor.  They said to me "epilepsy are you sure it isn't a tantrum fit you are having"

 

I asked them do I have to tell employers that I have them as then they only occurred when upset or stressed out.  The Woman who I thought was a Doctor said we have to tell employers as you might scare someone.  I started to cry and said "how do you think I feel".

 

Well I went home to my Dad crying and he marched down  there and said "You have got your Bleeping layabouts and my daughter is a genuine case and you treat her like dirt.  My brother in law who was with him was telling him to calm it .  But Dad went on and said "All the good the Docs have done you have undone you bullies,  everyone in there was trying to calm my Dad but he wanted to see the woman who wasn't even a Doctor and he said I demand you apologise to my Daughter he said other words also lol.

 

That's the last time I heard from them.  I got a job and they never knew I had Epilepsy and when I left they said we are going to lose the best clerk we ever had all for 5 bob a week xx

 

So what I am trying to say is do not let them intimidate you, and lay it on thick, not that you have too,  but you can get some officious staff there, anyway sorry about my bleeping lol Good Luck

Win xx

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Thanks Win, I will heed your advice, and I'm sure it will work out.

 

As a fall back position I had my OT session with Headway today and they said that if I need to appeal they will support me with the appeal, which is a great comfort. Headway are turning into a little bit of a life line right now, I have a very good and supportive OT lady.

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After waiting a very long time and hearing horrendous stories on TV about the assessment I finally got called in April to say I was worried and nervious was an understatement but it was ok and nothing like I had imagined..

 

No sure about the audio recording, & I don't think you'll get an answer there and then they have to asses it, & yes if you happen not to get it then you can appeal.

 

Take any letters or medical stuff with you, always point out 'fatigue' and like filling in the forms us your worst sanario as answers.

 

oh and if possible take someone along with you...

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