Thank you for the reply worried33.
So originally I was changed from the Support Group to WRAG in that you are correct, and that is what I am appealing against on the grounds that my health had not changed from the first interview to the second and thus one year to the next. I was healthwise in the same position so to change me is in direct contrast to the letters and evidence that I have placed before the court from healthcare and professionals agreeing that I had indeed not improved.
The two major mistakes DWP have made were in reference to the second interviewee was that they wrote in the notes at the time that I had never have or has never had suicidal intentions or thoughts which was noted at the first interview and was mentioned as 'has suicidal thoughts and intentions'. As I responded to the Judge during the tribunal the first interview took nearly two hours to get through and the second one I was in and out inside of twenty minutes, and talking to a stranger who is neither empathetic or sympathetic is very difficult when you are already anxious and distressed. My legal advisor bought this before the court, but I don't know if this in itself grounds for the decision to be changed. The second being that after being moved to the WRAG there should have been a follow up interview or they should have had me in to put me on somekind of WRA.
The decision made at the second interview led to the change of group and only the 365 days more of ESA. At the time of the decision I didn't understand the implications of being changed from one group to another. After the change of group I wasn't called in to speak to anyone regarding Work Related Activity, and the one time that I went in at my own motivation the helper behind the desk couldn't explain the change in a way that I could clearly grasp and how it was going to affect me moving forward.
Thirteen months after the decision to change groups and multiple phone calls to the DWP I was informed that there was indeed an appeal system and that I could lodge a mandatory reconsideration, which I did even though I was told that it should have been put in 28 days after the initial decision to change my group. The DWP accepted the lateness of my appeal but still turned the appeal down. I then went ahead and put in for a tribunal to look at my case.
The Judge adjourned the case asking for further response from the DWP to answer the questions, (i) DWP must explain to the Court what work related activity if any I was required to undertake since the change of groups and if not so required why was he not expected to undertake any activity, (ii) DWP had supplied a list of work related activities in my area explaining the difference between easier and harder tasks. DWP should clarify to the court whether there is any activity within this list that I was not expected to undertake and (iii) in the DWP submission I atttended interviews for JSA. In evidence I stated that I only attended one interview and my claim was refused. DWP should provide comprehensive details of all activities undertaken by me in respect of the claim for JSA.
In respect of the first question I stated that I hadn't been asked to take part in any WRA and wasn't contacted at all, and the only time I went in was at my behest.
In respect to the third question I applied for JSA around 2 months after ESA stopped, I went to the Job Centre to fill in the forms with a JC helper, and at that time stated that my wife was working 21 hours a week, because JSA is income based that meant that I was never going to be able to receive any JSA. So my claim was cancelled either on that day or two weeks later at another interview (I wasn't sure if it was one or two interviews but I did acknowledge that to the tribunal), the helper said there was no point in having me do any activities because I wasn't going to be in receipt of benefits because of the income.
I phoned the clerk of the court yesterday and the evidence from DWP should have been in by the 19th of November, and the clerk said that they hadn't had anything from them yet.
As I understand it now, the Judge will be asked for further instruction, the tribunal will be relisted, and I will get another date slightly quicker because it will be prioritised.
As far as how strong my case is, my legal representative seems to think that things are in my favour but obviously would not go as far as to say yes you are going to get the decision overturned.
In respect of what you wrote about DWP having chances to turn down your case and not, the Judge just could not get his head around the fact that DWP accepted my appeal so late in the day, in his words he said 'If they had turned it down on the grounds of it being late which they could quite rightly have done, we would not be here today, I just can't understand their reason to allow the appeal so late in the day.'
My legal rep also said to me well before the tribunal stage that it was highly unusual for DWP to take on such a late appeal when they had no need to go through any of this. Having spoken to them yesterday as well to fill them in that the papers have not so far been lodged, they also said that just because it was an error that I wasn't called in and that I just slipped through the cracks so to speak will not be reason enough to not have called me in for WRA. (Even if that was the truth of the matter), legal rep said that if I wasn't asked or expected to take part in WRA there was no reason to not leave me in the support group.
I don't take the DWP's actions personally I understand that they are probably snowed under with all the changes and that I am not the only one having to go through this.
Again thank you in advance for your comments, sorry it is such a long post, if there is anything that I have not made clear please say.