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.
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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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