Now my regular readers (both of them) will be aware I have long been suspicious that the cutbacks in benefit spending would hit genuine cases of ESA and DLA claimants as well as, and worst case scenario, instead of the alleged benefit cheats we hear so much about. Well this week my suspicious mind kicked into overdrive when my own dear wife Mrs Disability Expert, got her papers through regarding her appeal against ESA being refused, and the ensuing phone call to the Department of Works & Pensions. This is following on from her medical examination where her original claim was turned down.
Don't get me wrong, when you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (as she does) you do spend most of your time justifying your condition and you are not just a lazy git, so this is not the bit that concerns me most. The half a tree worth of paperwork that arrived for her to go through in preparation of her appeal hearing, was my first concern, having read the paperwork I barely recognised the description of her condition and her abilities and her difficulties that was declared in the assessors report and to compound all of this she was informed in this report that she only had 6 points of the 15 required to qualify for ESA.
Now I have worked in this arena for over 20 years and my wife is also a qualified social worker, so have both done our fair share of assessments over the years, but of all the paperwork she did have, she wasn't sent a copy of the assessment criteria that points are awarded for, so she phoned up and asked for a copy only to be told it was available on the internet but they didn't have copies of it. Now I have found this at:
I will leave you to make your own judgements on how useful that is but I once I had navigated my way to the required bit of the website and compared it to the assessors report I couldn't believe that 6 points was her result. I will add that I'm not sure how accessible the website is for people with disabilities.
Having moaned about this on twitter I have been contacted by people who have similar issues with trying to claim ESA, many of whom have hidden disabilities, as in many cases Chronic Fatigue can be. Another worrying trait I found in the report is one particular line of text and I quote 'enclosed was a letter from her Doctor stating that he believed she was not fit for work at present, this is irrelevant'. WHAAAAAAT?!?!? Sorry Doc all those years of study and your PhD is irrelevant. The supporting report from her physiotherapist has been conveniently cast to one side too.
So we have an assessor who has shall we say 'recorded inaccurate information' on the assessment report, has disregarded completely a letter from a doctor who has seen her and treated her condition, not just seen her once and has been given a raft of paperwork to sort out while the assessor has an entire department to assist with his report. This smells and it smells big time and the more I start digging the greater the stench. I'm beginning to wonder who are the real benefit cheats?
Feel free to contact me on twitter @disabilityxpert or on my Disability Expert page on Facebook if you are having similar issues.