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SussexLady

Incapacity Benefit cut off/tribunal etc

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Been on incapacity since 2004. Have a yearly medical by one of their docs. It's always a different doc, and I always get at least 15 points.

 

Doc I saw last Oct gave me only 10 points, although my condition had not changed.

 

I didn't know this till I got a letter in Feb saying my benefit had ended as I was fit for work. As I knew this was a mistake I didn't apply for JSA or any other benefits. I was perfectly confident that once I appealed and got another medical examination they'd realise the first dr's mistake and backdate my money to February.

 

In June they said my request for another exam was refused, and was told my appeal had failed. I then asked for a tribunal hearing. Again I didn't apply for any other benefit. I thought that all I could get is JSA, but I cannot bear the embarrassment of having interviews and being rejected for jobs on health grounds. (This was what happened in 2004 and why the DSS staff told me to go on IB instead.) I didn't think I could get ESA because that would mean a medical, at which I had just failed to get the necessary points.

 

Now the benefits office are saying I should make a fresh claim and get a new medical etc. I am really confused now!

 

Right that is the background, now here are my questions:

 

1. I have a tribunal date for a day in September which falls right in the middle of my (already fully paid-for) holiday and I will be on the Isle of Wight. I thought they would be amenable to a change of date but when I rang the clerk was really stern with me, saying that the tribunal didn't take kindly to this sort of thing and she asked me to put in writing to them exactly why I cannot attend. She implied that nothing short of a hospital appt was considered sufficient grounds to change the date and if my excuse was not considered acceptable they will hear in my absence (and that means they will find against me.)

 

Should I admit I am taking 5 days holiday on the IOW? I mean, as I'm not on any benefits currently, surely I am allowed to go away for a few days? If not, what excuse can I make that they cannot catch me out on?

 

Should I cancel my holiday, losing a lot of money, to make sure I attend when they say -- after all if I win the tribunal they will have to to pay me £2,500 in backdated payments back to Feb.

 

 

2. Can I ask my GP to give me a medical certificate backdated to February, and if so what good would that do? I have made an appt to see her Friday, so hope to have a plan by that time. I see that amongst the papers they sent me is a certificate from her dated March 2008 saying there has been no change in my condition and I am unfit for work.

 

 

3. I have just received the forms for ESA. I see they are asking me to prove my savings if I have more than £5,500, which I do. There was no means-testing with IB, I am pretty sure of that. Is ESA means-tested?

 

Should I just lie and say I have less than £5,500? Can they find out? If I tell the truth, will they then deny me ESA? Because if so, there is no point at all in filling in these forms.

 

As you can see I am pretty much an amateur in these matters. Although I was on IB for five years you don't learn anything when things just run smoothly. It's only when something like this happens that you realise how little you know.

 

All good advice gratefully received.

 

Thanking you in advance.

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You need to see a welfare rights advisor asap.

 

try The Directory - Find a legal adviser

 

or the yellow pages/internet/citizens advice...

 

You should be able to claim reduced rate income support (income support minus 20 percent) whilst on a incapacity benefit claim.

 

For some reason the jobcentre have omitted to tell you this (in my case in the past they told me but lied about the amount, they said it was much much less).

 

A advisor could tell you if its best to claim the income support or ESA, as Im not sure how a new claim for ESA would affect things (ie if you win the appeal would you stay on ESA afterwards or move back to IB, as the new ESA test is much worse apparently).

 

They can also advise you with your rights re asking for a change of date for the appeal hearing.

 

I would really advise seeing the advisor, as I find the job centre (well in my case anyway) usually do their best to mislead you when you are at your most vunerable, and try to get you to do what they want you to do, not what is perhaps in your best interest.


Note - all posts are my opinion only, and no action should be taken on any advice given without consulting independant advice from a suitably qaulified advisor.

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Thanks UKBix.

The CAB put me onto an agency in my town that gives advice on benefits and I have just spoken to a guy who seems to know a lot! He didn't have much time as he was manning other phones but his advice was to claim ESA. They cannot supply anyone to come to the tribunal with me. We ran out of time before I could ask about the holiday/change of date but I can phone him again tomorrow.

 

The benefits people (I forgot to say) was claim ESA and if I win the tribunal the ESA will be stopped and I will be returned to IB.

 

Do you know anything about the savings problem? The advisor told me ESA is means tested but IB is not (just as I thought). If you have more than £16,000 in savings you get no ESA whatsoever, apparently. Between £6,000 and £16,000 you get £1 for every £500 deducted from yor your benefit.

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Just to let you know that they cannot conduct the tribunal if you're not there. Like you I was told that they would find against me if I failed to attend a tribunal. However, I missed my tribunal on the 21st July (they'd changed the date 4 times and I'd become quite confused about which date I should be attending. I thought it was the 23rd, but that was the one in June that they'd cancelled) so called up and asked what would happen if I wasn't there. I was really quite upset at missing it as this whole thing has been going on since July last year. I ended up saying, "Oh fine, just go ahead and do it without me. At least it'll be out of the way!". They called me back about ten minutes later and I was told that they were not allowed to go ahead if you're not there.

 

If I were you I'd carry on with my holiday (wish I could afford one!) and get them to reschedual for another day when you're available.

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Fenris: How odd! Quoting direct from the letter in front of me:

 

"If you do not attend, the tribunal will decide the appeal in your absence."

 

Are there any rules about holidays

(a) if you are on benefits

(b) if like me you are living on your own savings and are waiting the outcome of an appeal?

Edited by SussexLady

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Probably a newer version is applicable now, but this is the last 'publicly' available known version of the tribunal benchbook I am aware of (if anyone has a link to a newer version it would be most appreciated)

 

Tribunal Service Bench Book

 

It sets out how they can or can not proceed if a applicant is not present, as well as all the other rules for a tribunal - a must read if you have to attend one.

 

But bear in mind some parts may #posssibly# be out of date now.


Note - all posts are my opinion only, and no action should be taken on any advice given without consulting independant advice from a suitably qaulified advisor.

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Fenris: How odd! Quoting direct from the letter in front of me:

 

"If you do not attend, the tribunal will decide the appeal in your absence."

 

Are there any rules about holidays

(a) if you are on benefits

(b) if like me you are living on your own savings and are waiting the outcome of an appeal?

 

Yup, I know, I've had six of those letters to date! And mine also say that. I can only tell you what I was told and that's that they can't complete the tribunal if you're not there.

 

Perhaps it's different for different courts across the country. I'm in Chavsville, aka King's Lynn, so perhaps it's a rule implimeneted because of the high concerntration of people not giving a smeg and not bothering to turn up? Maybe they implimented this at King's Lynn court because, otherwise, no bugger'd turn up for their tribunals! I don't know.

 

Maybe you should call the court yours is due to be heald at and ask what their rules are on non-attendance of a tribunal?

 

Don't know about holidays. Haven't had one since 2001... Forgotten what one is.

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Thanks for that link I read it and it says they can go ahead, but that was in 2006.

 

I also live in a Chavtown Fenris lol. I will chase it up tomorrow.

 

I am having trouble finding any agency who will send someone to be with me at the hearing. I find it so scary. Three powerful people on one side, little tongue-tied me on the other. I don't have a friend who lives near enough who isn't at work that day.

Edited by SussexLady

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I've decided to live off my savings and NOT apply for ESA.

 

I hope that I win at the Tribunal and get my IB backdated to February and go back on IB.

 

Fingers crossed.

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I think you do right. The bloke at JC Norwich tried to talk me into applying for ESA. He must have thought I was demented or something, 'cause had I applied for ESA I would have lost (at that time) 6 months of backdated IS at the higher rate of £85 a week. D'oh! Depressed, not stupid!

 

If you've got the money to do it stick to your guns.

 

And I know how you feel about the tribunal. I'm bricking it! After the last one I know I have a battle on my hands, but I won't let the smarmy gits upset me like they did last time. See if you can find someone to sit in with you, even if it's just someone you know from work or something. Another person in the room will really help.

 

Did you ring your local court? I'm quite interested to hear what they said about unattended tribuanls.

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Hi Fenris

 

I am glad to have your support on this. I am in fact so dumb that I didn't realise that IB is higher than ESA and so IF I won at the tribunal I'd get more.

 

But IF I lose at the tribunal I won't get ESA backdated to this week, of course!

 

I rang the tribunal clerk and asked her twice to confirm whether their rules say they can hear the case without me and twice she cannot/will not tell me.

 

She said its up to the judge ... but I am not allowed to speak to the judge!

 

So I asked if my reason for postponement was sufficient, or did she needs me to send some documentary proof of where I will be on that tribunal day. (I decided to show the holiday booking, she does not yet know that it is a holiday that stops me) and to my surprise she said no, but then followed this up with "It's up to the judge".

 

To tell the truth all this talk about "judges" and "tribunals" for some stupid reason keeps making me feel that I am somehow being dragged up in front of the beak for some wrongdoing! Is that why they use this language?

 

I also told her -- "I've taken legal advice". I omitted to say this was from strangers on the internet lol

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Once a date has been set, we will do our best

to avoid cancellation. We hope that, in

return, you would only ask for a

postponement in exceptional circumstances,

such as illness or bereavement. Any request

for a postponement should be made in

writing. We may refer it to the Tribunal for a

decision. The Tribunal does have the power to hear your appeal in your absence. Neither

you nor your representative, if you have one, should presume that the appeal will be

postponed, until you have actual confirmation from us.

 

direct from the horses mouth...

 

source - http://www.appeals-service.gov.uk/Documents/may09/HTA_English_Final_rev.pdf

page18


Note - all posts are my opinion only, and no action should be taken on any advice given without consulting independant advice from a suitably qaulified advisor.

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I also told her -- "I've taken legal advice". I omitted to say this was from strangers on the internet lol

 

Ha! That's probably the best thing I've read today!

 

I could be wrong, but the way I understand the benefits system is this:

 

If you're on IS/IB for more than 12 months you move up to the higher rate, currently £91 a week I think it is. If you then change the type of benefit you claim, i.e fom IS/IB to ESA, you're bumped back down to the lower rate and you then have to wait another 12 months before you qualify for the higher rate.

 

When I spoke to JC Norwich chappie, I asked if, if I moved to ESA would I still have to attend the tribunal and he said yes. So, what then would be the point in my moving to ESA?

 

You know, I'm not even sure the benefits people understand the system!

 

And I totally understand how you must be feeling about getting the run-around from the clerk. I have to say the one at Lynn was actually very helpful, so they're not all the same. But I also got the "It's for the Judge to decide" brush-off.

 

The tribunal itself is possibly the worst thing I've ever had to do on a legal front. They said it's "informal". Er, yeah, right. Not so much informal as stalag 13! I've seen SS interegations conducted more compassionately than that tribunal!

 

...Er, not that I want to worry you at all... :)

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Well this tribunal is going to happen and all I can do is be warned, prepare, take advice ....

 

I am feeling desperate to get someone to come with me. I have very few friends and of them, none can come with me because they live so far away, are working full time, or are unsuitable (i.e. foreigners with poor English).

 

I've asked at CAB, the local indie advice centre and even at M.I.N.D. for some advocate to come with me, but no one can come. I am racking my brains to think of anyone who could help me...

 

I used to be a union member and now I miss having the support and representation that I had ...

 

I cannot handle stress very well. I clam up, get tongue-tied, then blurt out the wrong thing, sometimes the opposite of what I mean!

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Email arrived from them this moment saying that the hearing has been postponed!

 

That is GOOD news.

 

Now, how to prepare myself and my case?

 

Will there be a doctor on the tribunal?

 

Will there be a medical exam?

 

Will they ask me questions to try to trip me up so they can try to "prove" I am fit for work?

 

I feel very intimidated by them!

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Judging by what I see on these boards these tribunals are horrible. Eeek! Apparently they deliberately try to rile you up and when you get really cross and tell them to eff off, they say you are perfect for a job on PCWorld's complaints hotline!

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Hi SussexLady, I was at a tribunal on Monday with the Mrs, and it really depends on who you get on the day, some can be quite nice and understanding as was the case with my partner, or you can have complete a**eholes who think you're fit enough to return to work.


Be good to yourself, when nobody else will

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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Hi,

 

I have had several tribunals now, and so far, thankfully all of them have been ok, although its only a matter of time before I get one with some people on the board who have already made their minds up before I go in.

 

But to be fair, all mine so far have went well, they put me at ease, and listened, and were easy going with the questions, unlike a medical by atos.

 

There is usually, from my experience 3 people present, you sit at a table, you on one side, them on the other.

 

One is a doctor, one a laywer/solicitor/legal type person and the other the chairman.

 

They will ask you questions, but all my previous ones have tried their best to allow me to answer properly, with no pressure or intimidation to date.

 

If you read the link I gave earlier to the benchbook that will give you a good understanding of what they can do with regards to medicals/questions etc, even though its a little old, not much should have changed.

 

The worst part of the tribunal I have found so far is the wait for it, the nerves and anticipation, but so far, I have always left the actual trbunal thinking, that was not as bad as I imagined it would be, and have always been given the decision on the day (but that does not always happen, sometimes they need further investigation and will tell you later what they decide).


Note - all posts are my opinion only, and no action should be taken on any advice given without consulting independant advice from a suitably qaulified advisor.

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Thanks for the responses.

 

Because we don't know if we are going to get a nice or a nasty, we have to prepare in advance. I will write down all the things I have wrong with me (is there enough paper in the world?) and read the list over and over on the train journey there.

 

During the medical I was so taken up with standing and sitting and raising my arms up and down like a semaphore signaller that I forgot to tell her about my stress, depression, anxiety, social phobias, sporadic sleep apneoa, unstable blood glucose leading to sleeping fits, weeping fits, etc. On top of that I now have carpal tunnel syndrome and am waiting for an operation so my wrist is in a splint.

 

The reason I went onto IB in the first place was that I was on JSA and applying for jobs and constantly being turned down either because of my physical mobility problems, which are obvious as soon as they see me (I walk with a stick), or once I had filled in the medical disclosure. Repeatedly applying, being interviewed and being rejected shredded my self esteem and left me feeling worthless and depressed. The JSA clerk said "this is stupid, you should be on IB". That is how I came to be on it.

 

Unemployment in my area is especially high and so employers always pick the cream of the crop not someone like me who is probably going to take time off sick, be unreliable and be a zombie part of the time, etc. They have plenty of able bodied to choose from.

Edited by SussexLady

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hi,can anyone tell me what i should take to a tribunal hearing appart from drs letters

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No worries tracie, if you start a new thread [benefits forum, button at the bottom left] that'll save people wading through other posts to find you. :)

Rae.

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