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ESA Medical - Pregnant with cancer


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Hi everyone, I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and have re-occuring thyroid cancer. I was diagnosed after my first pregnancy over 8 years ago but the blinking thing keeps coming back.

The treatment I require now is having to be delayed until my baby is born. I have been called for a medical assessment in 4 weeks time so I will be 24 weeks pregnant.

In all seriousness what can I be expected to do workwise? My GP has ruled me unfit to work indefinitely, my current sicknote takes me until September when I will be able to claim Maternity allowance.

I have read the points system for the assessment and its all about walking, cooking, sitting, standing etc. Well I will fail on all this because I can do them.

The main problems I have is extreme tiredness as a result of both pregnancy and cancer, stress, poor sleeping pattern, neck and shoulder pain as a result of 4 surgeries to remove the cancer, recurrent throat pain and hoarseness and back problems.

None of these things will be scored at the assessment so if I fail I will lose my ESA and have to claim jobseekers - am I right?

I am really worried about all this. frown.gif

Can anyone give me any advice?


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Hi hunni,

Presuming you completed your ESA50 and declared that you were both pregnant and have cancer, I'm a little surprised you've been called for a medical...

First of all, don't worry about it. Concentrate more on yourself and the forthcoming little one :)

Let's assume you have to attend the assessment with ATOSH. I'd be surprised if you didn't score 15 points or more. But, as I like to say, I've been surprised before!

So let's further assume you score 14 points or less. DWP will notify you and you then put in an appeal. This can take up to 9 months to resolve during which you keep sending [un]fit notes and you keep on ESA at the assessment rate.

So don't even think about JSA. Not that you should anyway.

Take care

Best wishes


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Hi Claire, I'm not a doctor but I would have thought that your life-threatening illness would automatically entitle you to go into the (highest) support group anyway, why they would require you to attend a medical is beyond my comprehension. Maybe you should try to challenge the DWP Decision Maker's referral of your case to Atos as wrong.




I'm not a qualified welfare rights adviser, but I'm planning on becoming one. I'm no substitute for more competent advice from trained CAB and welfare rights workers - [URL="http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/benefits-tax-credits-minimum/127741-benefits-advice.html"]see this post[/URL] by Joa, great advice and links! I've been running a Crisis Loan campaign and help since Jan 2007 . See my annotations c/o "theyworkforyou". I'm also currently interested by the recent DWP Medical Services reform and the effect this is having on valid claims, seriously - someone needs to be keeping a suicide count.

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Hello there, so sorry to hear about your problems and I hope you get the DWP to change their minds.


If they stick with this, I had one thought. Do you have a Macmillan nurse helping you? At least that way, you could have a home visit.


Please let us know how you get on, we'll do what we can to help you.


My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum




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In regard to cancer, a person is only fast tracked to the support group when the disease is in its terminal stage.


You can get ESA when pregnant but I'm fairly sure you can only get it for this sole reason when you are at or beyond 34 weeks gestation.


I'm going to ask someone with inside experience of ESA to have a look at this thread for you, as I'm not 100% certain about the gestation length and don't want to misadvise you.

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.



Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)





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Erika asked me to check in on this thread, as I used to process ESA in a large processing centre. I didn't work on the medical side of things so much, but here are my thoughts.


Pregnancy on its own is not considered to be an incapacity until well into the third trimester. Erika may well be correct in saying it's 34 weeks; if not, she's not far out. Complications in pregnancy can, of course, be considered to be an incapacity, depending on their nature.


This is of secondary importance, I would say, since thyroid cancer clearly is an incapacity.


Also, the decision to award or refuse ESA is taken by a Decision Maker in the processing centre, and while they'll usually go with the medical result, I have seen cases where the DM has overruled that result and awarded ESA to a person who failed the medical.


If the worst happens and you fail the medical, don't claim JSA. Immediately appeal the decision using form GL24 which you can get from a Jobcentre or ask them to send to you. You can also write your own letter of appeal instead of using this form. If you do this, make sure you include the words "I wish to appeal your decision..." and sign the letter. Once an appeal is received your ESA will be reinstated until the Tribunal hears the appeal and hands down a decision.


Before the appeal is sent to the Tribunal it will be passed to another DM for a reconsideration, and for this reason you should include as much evidence about your incapacity as possible - supporting letters from your GP and/or specialists. The DM will be looking to see how your incapacity affects your ability to work, so if the doctor can say something like "on 3 or 4 days a week on average, Claire1976 suffers from extreme fatigue as a result of her cancer and the treatments thereof. The surgery limits her ability to move, and persistent hoarseness and throat pain can be a barrier to effective communication. Because of these things, she would find it impossible to meet the demands that would be placed on her by most employers."


This is just an example, of course, but it's worth doing this because the DM must consider the totality of evidence presented him or her, and the ATOS medical is only part of this.


Any more questions or comments, just post again here and I'll do my best to answer.

Edited by antone
Removed rogue apostrophe. Damn things get everywhere.
  • Haha 1




The idea that all politicians lie is music to the ears of the most egregious liars.

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Thank you for all the help and advice everyone. I have an appointment with the DWP this week so I will discuss the need for a medical and what I can do to get through the process.

I do have extreme bouts of fatigue caused by pregnancy, cancer and sleep problems due to my neck and shoulder pain.

From what I have heard ATOS virtually fail everyone and since my problems are not neccessarily physical mobility I feel sure I will fail. Also thyroid cancer is very rare and most GP's have never come across it so therefore will be unaware of the effects it has on people. And I have not been the average thyroid cancer patient, most people respond to treatment immediately and only require 1 surgery. I have had 4 surgeries and radioactive treatment with more to come as it keeps coming back which is also extremely unusual.

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