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Migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA (Read 167 times)
LesleyM
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Migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA
17.02.13 at 20:24:48
 
Hi Everyone,
 
I will be blogging my personal journey as I am migrated off Incapacity Benefit. I am learning new things all the time and I will try to update this blog as often as possible.
 
I have decided to keep this in the Members Only section as I am aware of DWP staff trawling Social Media etc and I would prefer to blog without the worry that they may be reading it!
 
Whilst my journey will be moving from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) some of the things (particulary the form filling and medical evidence) will be pertinent if anyone is just starting to apply for ESA.
 
Feedback is always welcome......
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LesleyM
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Blog 1
Reply #1 - 17.02.13 at 20:27:30
 
Migration from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
 
Background
 
Diagnosed in 1999 at the RVI in Newcastle with Type 1 Latex Allergy and suffering several Anaphylactic reactions, I applied and was granted Disability Living Allowance (following a Tribunal held at home) in 2001.  I was originally granted Low Rate Care and Low Rate Mobility for three years.
 
My health worsened and in 2004 I reapplied and after a two year fight (Including two tribunals at home and the result of both being referred at one point to the Commissioners in London) I was eventually granted High Rate Care and Low Rate Mobility for an “indefinite period”.
 
During this period I was still working, however my health was deteriorating. A very unsympathetic employer (large international bank) paid lip-service to Risk Assessments and the Disability Discrimination Act and with the support of my Specialist Immunologist (who also happens to be the Chair of the LASG Medical Panel) , Irwin  Mitchell Solicitors and my Union I was granted ill-health early retirement in July 2007 and settled out of court for personal injury.
 
Subsequently I was turned down for Industrial Injury Benefit (Probably mostly due to Latex Allergy still being mis-understood and the risk being denied by my employers) but was successful in my application for Incapacity Benefit. It was determined that I did not need to attend medicals for this as my High Rate Care DLA Component meant I was exempt.
 
And so with a very small pension (I only worked part-time and had only 9 years service) Incapacity Benefit (Long Term Rate) and Disability Living Allowance I have managed financially (just), been able to afford to ensure my home environment is Latex Free and to pay a carer when necessary. It has also enabled me to pay for Gestalt Therapy which has really helped my mental attitude and Severe Anxiety.
 
I still suffer allergic reactions. It is my belief (and my Immunologist agrees) that it is only the management of my environment coupled with my drugs that have kept me safe from the severe reactions that I am at risk of over the past couple of years. The last Anaphylaxis I had was triggered in the XRay department of my local hospital. (Not the first time!)  
 
I also suffer from Latex Related Food Allergies, Asthma, Under Active Thyroid, Alopecia Totallis, Megaloblastic and Pernicious Anaemia. These conditions are also Auto-Immune conditions. I am suffering from an itchy rash of unknown cause at the moment. I also suffer migraines and am allergic to Ibuprofen and Aspirin. I have had both my knees reconstructed and osteotomies on both feet, consequently I also suffer from osteo-arthritis. I have had issues with Anxiety since 1999. I tell you this not for sympathy but to illustrate that there are various reasons why I have previously been deemed to be “unfit for work”.
 
At the end of January this year I received a letter to say that my Incapacity Benefit is to end and that I now need to apply for Employment Support Allowance.  
 
Deep Joy.
 
Obviously I have seen the scare stories and read one too many bad experiences from others going through this.  
Selfishly I feel that “blogging” my experience might be cathartic. However, I hope that this will also help others going through this “process”.
 
I felt it might be particularly important to document the process for other Latex Allergic patients given the recent changes to the goal-posts. (Highlighted by Liz in another post)
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LesleyM
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Blog 2
Reply #2 - 17.02.13 at 21:34:18
 
So the letter I received promised a telephone call to check my identity details and that this would happen within two weeks. Exactly one week later I got a call from the DWP.
 
Firstly they asked for me by name. They wanted my date of birth and NI number. As I was expecting the call and they identified themselves as the DWP I did not have an issue with this. At the end of the identity check I was told that I would receive an ESA 50 form within two weeks and that would need to be back with them before the date on the covering letter and that I was likely to be called for a Medical Assessment. They would then take up to 13 weeks to make a decision.
 
I was asked if I had any questions at the end of the call and so, having read much advice online, I asked what would happen if I was to be called for a Medical Assessment as my Specialist had recommended that any Assessment be held at home due to the inability of ATOS/DWP to ensure that any of their offices would be Latex Free. He answered that I would need to enclose a letter with my Form.
 
It should be noted that since the telephone call I have contacted Welfare Rights. My Local Council have taken this “in house” and it’s now about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. However, they were good enough to give me the telephone number of a local advice centre who I subsequently called. They were happy to advise me on the ‘phone. However, like most advice centres for the disabled, they are completely inundated with cries for help and, as I cannot go to them, this seemed like the best option.
 
I have also now read through everything Liz has posted in this Forum. – Thanks Liz!
 
With the changes to the goalposts for “Exceptional Circumstances” I have done a lot of research on the internet. I feel it should be stressed that there is a lot of very very negative information out there. I feel it is REALLY important to understand that those who have had a positive experience of the migration (or first application) do not tend to advertise their successes. Often bad news is the most publicised (it makes a “better” story). I have read and lot, discarded a lot and bookmarked several actually very helpful websites. I will remark on these as I go along.
 
If you can cope with the negative stuff Facebook has a page called “ATOS Miracles” which is a tongue in cheek title, pointing to the supposed Miracle Cures for Incurable diseases that ATOS have come up with.
 
So, what am I hoping to achieve with this forced migration from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance? Well, quite simply the ideal will be to be placed in the “Support Group” with no need for a medical.  
This would mean that my level of benefit on Incapacity Benefit would remain unchanged and it would be unlikely I would need to be reassessed for three years. I am unable to go anywhere unless I am chaperoned and have been unable to work since I was retired, therefore, given that there has been no recent miracle cure for my Latex Allergy or other conditions, this is the best I can hope for with a Life-Threatening, Life-long and incurable condition.
 
It is possible that I might be placed in the “Work Related Activity Group” (although how they would expect me to go on a Training Course or attend a Work Focused Interview, given that they have confirmed their inability to provide a Latex free environment for me, could prove interesting!) I would also only receive Contribution Based ESA for 365 days whereupon it would become Income Based and, as my husband works more than 24 hours a week will equate to a big fat zero.
 
Worst case scenario is that I am placed in the “Fit for Work” category whereupon I will only be eligible for Job Seekers Allowance. This would be for 6 months whereupon I would lose all benefit due to my husband’s salary. (However, as I would be unable to “sign-on” every two weeks I would probably not be eligible anyway!)
 
Having now read all I can about the different groups I can determine where I want to be. Also, because of the type of person I am and because I know that if my Specialist and GP are believed I should fall into the Support Group with no need for a Medical Assessment then I am resolved to do my best to get this “Right First Time” and do my utmost to ensure that the DWP/ATOS understand my conditions and the relevancy of them when it comes to my ability to work.
 
If I do not get placed into the Support Group I will appeal. However, the advice centre I spoke to told me that this is taking up to ten months and from many online Forums in some areas it is taking even longer than this.
 
My first fight may well to get the Medical Assessment held at home, if they decide that I need one.
 
Apparently from 1st April the DWP don’t have to pay you anything whilst your original decision is being looked at again and this can take them as long as they want.
 
We are already looking at how we can make £420 worth of savings to our expenditure every month. (We can’t! Well, not without losing our home.)
 
The Form arrived exactly one week after the telephone call.  
 
I have since seen my Specialist and asked him to write me a supporting letter and have sent him the information he needs by email. I have an appointment with my GP (also very supportive) tomorrow in order to ask for a letter from him too. Both will be confirming that I cannot attend a Medical Assessment anywhere other than my own home.
 
Did you know that even though they ask on the Form for your GP details and your Specialist they do NOT (as a matter of course) contact either of them?  Your letters of Support and a Medical Report need to go to ATOS/DWP with your Form.
 
I will keep you posted.
 
 
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Liz944
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Re: Migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA
Reply #3 - 18.02.13 at 10:28:30
 
Leslie if you are hoping to avoid having a medical make sure that you include lots of medical evidence and any information that backs up what you say. If you are called for a medical ask for a medical assessment in your own home. You will be asked to fax a confirmation that this is necessary from a medical proffessional you see. On your ESA50 form make sure that you cover the reasons why you want a home medical in the section "Tell us about any help you would need if you have to go for a face-to-face assessment". I always mention in this section I am not able to use public transport or a taxi as you do not know if someone will get on the bus with latex items. I also mention that the interior of a taxi may have latex inside or latex gloves been used during serving etc and that my GP would not be aware of these restrictions as they can't get in right in the surgery so have no chance of understanding that I do not use public tranport...  I have had issues with home visits as the Doctor came into my house with paperwork that had previously come into contact with latex and this set my brittle asthma off and caused an anaphylactic reaction. So I included this information to the DWP/ATOS and have stated that in the event of them causing my health to deteriate or lead to a fatal reaction I have instructed my family to take legal action against the DWP as I am fed up with them making me ill. On numerous occassions they have posted information with rubber bands on,  when asked not to!
 
Also some assessment centres are on the second floor of buildings and if you have mobility problems mention it in the above section as ATOS will have to change assessment centres to one that is on the ground floor or grant you a home visit if requested. As in emergancy situations there could be issues with getting out of the building if you are unable to manage steps.
 
Be carefull when filling out the ESA50 to make sure that you have the current form as on the 28th January 2013 the legislation and the DWP/ATOS are still sending out old forms until the stock has been used up.
 
www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/.../dg_195544.pdf
 
The form should be dated 1/13 and have cancer questions on the last page.
 
If you have been sent an old form, either use the correct new form or fill in the old form but make sure that you complete it using the amended desriptors and new assessment criteria.
 
If you need any help, please feel free to PM me... I am currently a similiar situation as my ESA50 went back to ATOS in December and I am waiting to see if I am called to a medical. I managed to get into the support group last year so it is possible!
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Re: Migration from Incapacity Benefit to ESA
Reply #4 - 18.02.13 at 11:23:10
 
When Paula was called in for an assessment a couple of years ago, I insisted on inspecting the premises to make sure there was no latex present.   The room stank of latex and I discovered that it had just been refurbished and that the carpets and desk tops had been stuck down with a latex based glue.
 
I requested a hearing at home and they refused.   I attended on the day with loads of ammunition and told them straight that there was no way she would be attending.   They heard my evidence and we won the case.
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