The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Caught in the trap between ESA and JSA?

There are now a lot of new rules surrounding disability benefits. Since Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was brought in, a lot of people that would have qualified for the old out-of-work disability benefit, Incapacity Benefit (IB), no longer qualify for the new out-of-work disability benefit, ESA.

As they don’t qualify for ESA, these people with disabilities are told to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). But when they go to claim JSA, they are told that they cannot claim it as they do not satisfy the criteria whereby they have to be available to work Full Time. A lot of people with disabilities can’t manage to work full time.
So, they are ‘too well’ for ESA, but ‘too ill’ for JSA. Bit of a catch-22 there?
Frequently, when the disabled person is told that they cannot claim JSA, they are told to appeal the Department of Work and Pension’s refusal of ESA. The problem with appealing that is that while your appeal is pending – you have no income from EITHER benefit. And at the moment, it is taking upwards of 6 months to process an appeal. That means that there is 6 months or more that a person with disabilities, that hinder their ability to work, is getting no income-related benefits. No ESA/JSA, No Housing Benefit, No Council Tax Benefit, No FREE PRESCRIPTIONS (Think about it – a person with disabilities is likely to need to spend a significant amount on medications), none of the normal so-called passported benefits.
Another thing to think about is the fact that 70% of appeals against ATOS - the company who assess fitness for work - decisions are successful. Which means that 70% of the people who have been turned down for ESA, a benefit for people with disabilities, are people with disabilities that either totally prevent them from working, or people with disabilities that are severe enough to create a HUGE barrier to gaining and KEEPING employment.
There have been people left destitute because of this rule, people so desperate that they have committed suicide. Here are some articles, to illustrate this point: Daily Mail on tragic couple who suicided due to poverty, and Guardian tells how Jobcentre staff are told to expect suicide threats.
There are many other disability awareness groups campaigning about this at the moment, including Scope, Mind, MS Society , and many, many more disability groups.
I could froth about this issue all day and night. This is only in part because I will personally be in this position in a few years time. I am just one of thousands. There are lots of other issues surrounding ESA that I will blog about soon. If, like me and the rest of the frothers, you feel that the Government is financially penalising the most vulnerable in Society, join #frothers on Twitter.

Want to do more?

You may not realise that as well as asking the long term sick to 'prove' their disabilities in 10 minute interviews, the government is also proposing to make cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (which is well known to be a debilitating process) do the same read more at Macmillan's website and sign their petition to stop the changes Related to this is the proposal that the terminally ill (those given less than 6 months to live) should have their benefits removed if they live longer than 12 months. Read more at the BBC

Sign Pats Petition to have the Government STOP and THINK about the impact of cuts on carers and people with disabilities supported by CarersUK, Scope CarerWatch and Afiya Trust

All we want for Christmas is a fair benefits system, petition by Mind.

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  1. Such a stupid issue in so many ways, and so devastating for everyone involved.

    Come on government, THINK about what you're doing!

    1. They ARE thinking, they are thinking how to screw the disabled as well as the unemployed.

    2. i have found myself in this very situation i failed my esa and was put on jsa i recently been referred to remploy and they have now discharged me as physically unfit for work so i don't meet requirements for jsa but fit enought o work by esa so where doees that leave me now

    3. I am just finding myself in this position too. My wife is severely disabled and I am her carer. She recently was admitted to hospital and after treatment discharged to a care home for physio which the home could not provide. Eventually she was admitted to a second hospital to get the physio she needed and may be there for several weeks. My CA ran out after four weeks so I had to claim JSA but because I have lots of disabilities the DWP told me I was not fit for work and must claim ESA instead. As it happened I did have an unpleasant bug (which I didn't realise because I am so ill all the time I do not usually notice supplementary illnesses). So on Friday I will be trying to claim JSA again. Now I know the game: The DWP will tell me I am unfit for work (via JCP) and must claim ESA after getting a sick note from the doctor. If this is forthcoming I will get a WCA and the DWP (via ATOS or similar) will tell me I am fit for work - so I will be disallowed JSA on the grounds I am unfit for work and ESA because I am fit for work. The DWP will be telling me I am both unfit for work and fit for work at the same time - simply to deprive me of any income.

      The practical reality of my situation is that there is no chance of me getting a job as it is likely my wife will be back home before any such possibility arises. I am "lucky" in this respect. The system doesn't take practical realities into consideration however.

      The whole claims process has been a nightmare as it is. The DWP computer first lost my claim for JSA and then lost my subsequent claim for ESA. After that it then lost significant amounts of data so the DWP couldn't pay me. I have spent about £40 on phone calls to various DWP departments trying to sort out their problem and repeatedly prompt them to sort it out.

      Anyway my next claim for JSA will go in on Friday morning just after midnight. If they do not lose the claim this time I will have an interview at my local JCP next week. They (the DWP) will tell me I am unfit for work. This is practcally realistic but their diagnosis will not be about practical realism. It is about depriving me of benefit.

      I have already warned my GP about this. I have told him I would do my best to convince the JCP I am fit for work but that I am not optimistic about being successful. If I am not then I would make an appointment in which I would do my best to convince him I am unfit for work in support of an ESA claim!

      Note that it is NOT me doing all this. It is the DWP who are spending a fortune in taxpayers money blocking up the WCA process with claimants they full well know will not succeed by insisting they are unfit for work and then doing a volt face and telling them they are fit for work - and thereby implying that they are scrounging fakers.

      I am unlikely to get to the end of this expensive wasteful process and so the outcome will likely be unknown to me. As it is attempting to claim benefits is a full time job in itself, especially when the DWP has computer systems which are unfit for purpose and have been for many years since they first became operational.
      Their sick warped perversion of a benefits system doesn't work in the offensive fashion it was meant to without the constant interventions on the part of DWP staff - and I thank them for that..

    4. I don't think they can think! Anyone with half a brain can see what this is doing to people, causing over 7000 suicides for a start.

  2. A quick reminder to people that you can use to easily find & email your MP :)


  3. This does my head in. I'm going to be in this position in a few months (assuming my health improves a little as I'm hoping it will).

    It's ironic though. My health is made worse by stress. The more hoops I am given to jump through, the more stress I feel, and the more likely my health is to deteriorate. It's a vicious circle I want out of. All I want is a freaking job, is that so much to ask? (Apparently, yes.)

  4. I don't know what to say, J.Hill. It is becoming even harder to find facts or even actual policies on this - everything's now done behind closed doors (illegally) and FOI requests are being (illegally) refused.

    Like you and many others, I have a variable condition that becomes debilitating under stress. There aren't any sensible answers to this - I thought the old New Deal was a great and sensible plan, but that got hacked about in what we can now see was the build-up to the horrors ahead.

    I just don't know what to say.

  5. Actually you can claim ESA at the assessment rate while you're appealing. That's about the equivalent of basic JSA I understand. I'd advise anyone facing an Atos test to join as there's shedloads of good advice there. Facts, for example. Go see.

  6. I went to ALL the organizations, charities, etc that offered advice & help - so much so that I ended up exhausted and guess what? It was a complete waste of time!

    It doesn't matter what the law is or what you're entitled to, the government do not care and will just sh*t all over you anyway - they are nothing more than a bunch of sadistic power-hungry criminals - period.

  7. I went to my atos just before Xmas and was told I was well enough to work and put in an applie which I did when told to get a sick note I went to see the doctor and he told me im now well to work. So I told esa this they said that they would close my claim and I needed to go ob jsa which I have done and been to sign on but jsa have told me that they can't pay me till esa close my claim so I keep ringing and asking esa to close it and they say that they will send a email to who ever to tell them to close it and then they would call me back which they don't and it's been like this for two weeks now I spoke to them today and they said that they rang me and told me that they wasn't a answer then told me the number they were calling which wasn't mine what do I do? Any help would be great thanks

  8. BEEN THERE,it is not true that if you appeal against your failed original assessment you wont get any benefit....You will get the lower rate of esa (£70) while you wait to be judged...!
    use the word appeal because you can easily be misled into "asking for a reconsideration"
    which is an all together diferent thing..i.e..(politely asking "i think your'e wrong")
    should you be successful you will be awarded a backdated payment to make up to what you would have had in the meantime and continue as before.(big reason for them to fail you) as this proses takes a long time.. should you be unsuccessful jsa looms.....more own doctor?

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