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1st assessment, help appreciated!


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Hi everyone

 

So i've had a letter to go to an Atos 1 on 1 assessment. This is the 1st i've asked to go to, even though my medical issue (anxiety) has been an issue for over 10 years. Just a few questions that i'd appreciate help with.

 

1. I've always sent in letters from my G.P when filling in forms, letters that a doctor writes to say i'm unfit for work, so how is it that i have to attend an Atos 1 on 1?. I see that they are supposed to be health care professionals, but not Dr's so are they undermining what a Dr says?

 

2. Atos's contract with the government is stopping. Is it because of issues they have had with patients, or have they admitted that they aren't good at what they do? If so may appeals are won, there surely is a problem with the initial 1 on 1.?

 

3. Are they qualified to over rule a Dr & how can this be when their contracted has been terminated. I hear that it comes into practice next year, but surely they shouldn't be examining people now!..

 

I am looking through the threads to find info, is there a list of questions that i can expect?

 

Many thanks & regards to you all.

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Can you clarify which benefit you are claiming? The following relates to claims for ESA as I'm guessing you are being transferred from Incapacity Benefit.

 

1. Pretty much all claimants for ESA were expected to have to attend a face to face assessment, though with the current backlogs this has slipped a bit. What your GP says is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to what the ATOS Healthcare Professional (HCP) recommends - they are simply saying whether, in their opinion, you meet the criteria for an award of ESA. HCPs may be doctors, but are more likely to be nurses or even physiotherapists.

 

2. Supposedly, it is entirely ATOS' fault that the assessment system is in meltdown due to backlogs and that the rate of successful appeals is actually increasing. ATOS say they are giving up their contract because of the abuse their staff have been subjected to, DWP say they are letting them go because of the backlogs and poor quality results. However, the basic problem is the assessment and the ESA criteria simply do not do what they are supposed to do and to a large extent whether or not someone is found 'fit for work' is a complete lottery.

 

3. Anyone who has already been referred to ATOS will have their assessment as if nothing had happened, and new claimants will also be assessed. They had already stopped doing repeat assessments and it's not yet clear if any more Incapacity Benefit claimants will be referred for assessment.

 

There are many, many threads relating to ATOS and the Work Capability assessment, so have a really good read around the forum. You will most likely be shocked by what you read but do please remember that those people who have had no problem with their assessment are unlikely to have posted. Also, in the stickies in the Benefits forum you'll find some more information about ESA and the work capability assessment. Finally, many people ask for their assessment to be audio recorded so that they have a permanent record of what was and was not said. If you ask for a recorded assessment, it may delay matters considerably. Also if there is any question about whether you can attend an assessment centre you should consider asking for a home assessment. You will need your GP to write a letter saying you need a home assessment and it's likely to delay things even further, however if your anxiety would normally preclude you from attending a potentially stressful interview, it will go against you if you manage to get there 'just this once'.

 

Once you've had a read around the forums, come back and ask as many questions as you like.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Thanks realymadwoman

 

I appreciate your reply & will read a lot of threads on here.

I know for sure i will score low as my illness is invisible. I went once with a friend who had PTSD & were visibly distressed & they scored her 8 yet when her & her gp did the scoring, they thought she would get around 70.

 

My biggest concern is losing my flat. My flat is where i feel safe & is my sanctuary. I am on housing benefit, please can anyone say if i will lose housing benefit if they score me below the required amount & before i am able to appeal?

 

It's a total disgrace that they can keep going on evaluating people.

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Housing benefit is entirely dependent on income, not on which benefit you are awarded, so if you 'fail' the WCA then you just tell them you're on nil income and they continue paying your benefit.

 

However, it is entirely possible that you will score enough points. Familiarise yourself with the descriptors where you feel you should score points and then you can tailor your answers accordingly during the assessment. Also having the assessment recorded seems to mean you score more points, though there is no evidence to support that, it's just anecdotal.

 

If you don't score enough points then you will immediately ask for mandatory reconsideration, and if the decision is not overturned you will then go to appeal. Once the appeal is lodged you can be paid ESA at the assessment rate if you submit 'fit notes' from your GP. As you are already aware, many decisions are overturned on appeal.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Thanks very much for your reassurance towards my housing benefit concerns. I am worried that if they know i am in a flat & not living at home as before, they will think i am better but being at home was creating anxiety within me as it wasn't a pleasant place to be.

 

When you say 'descriptors' does that mean there is a list of questions on the forum as i can't find them. I'm assuming it's the same set of questions for everyone. Can you give me a link please?

 

If i don't score enough & i'm denied mandatory reconsideration, would i be put on JSA before the appeal is lodged.?

 

Many Thanks

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This is the forum sticky about medicals http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?287253-esa-medicals. There is no standard list of questions as such but a common complaint is that questions are often indirect and seem to be designed to trip you up. You've mentioned anxiety problems so the absolute last thing you should do is consider going to an assessment on your own as the simple fact of arriving on time at the right place will most definitely go against you but turning up with a companion will lead the HCP to assume, even if it's not mentioned during the assessment, that you don't go out alone due to your anxiety.

 

As a fairly extreme example during my assessment two weeks ago, which was at home, a pair of crutches were standing in the corner throughout. I wasn't asked about them, I didn't even have to get out of my chair and they're a fairly recent acquisition so they're not mentioned on my ESA50 form, but the assumption was made that I can only walk with crutches. It is essential to remember that the HCP will make assumptions, often illogical and based on limited information, so try to use it against them and make their assumptions go in your favour.

 

The official descriptors for ESA are in the schedules to these regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/228/contents/made. You need to score at least 15 points from any of the descriptors in Schedule 2 to be 'unfit for work' or meet at least one of the descriptors in Schedule 3 to be 'unfit for work related activity', otherwise known as the support group.

 

If you don't score enough points then your IB will cease. Whilst you ask for mandatory reconsideration you can sign on for JSA - when told that a claimant is awaiting mandatory reconsideration of a 'fit for work' decision, most advisors at the jobcentre effectively 'park' the claimant. Once the mandatory reconsideration decision is made you can if necessary proceed to appeal and then claim ESA at the assessment rate until it's heard.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Yes i shall be going with my dad who is in his 70's but the type of person who i'm sure can help. The appointment is for 10am which isn't good for me as my anxiety is at its worst in the morning, or maybe it is a good time, i'm unsure.

 

Did you mean my incapacity benefit will be stopped, i didn't think i was on that & it was ESA. Sorry i';m just confused.

 

In a sense, its good to lay it on thick.

 

Schedule 2 questions look quite like what is in the esa50 form

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You've not said what benefit you're claiming. Since you've mentioned problems for 10 years I guessed it was Incapacity Benefit, but the process for transferring to ESA is no different from the process for ESA claimants so it's not particularly important.

Is this a new claim or have you been on ESA for a while?

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RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Sorry, i was on income support which changed to ESA. I have been on ESA since it started. When i first got the esa50 & filled it in along with letter from GP, i never needed to go to an assessment as i gave enough evidence, as i was told! I filled another one in, sent another GP letter & heard nothing until now!

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I have an appointment with my GP on Wednesday. I will show the letter & ask about a medical report although i do have from my GP a letter saying that i'm not fit to work & medication etc, i'm unsure if this is the same thing.

 

I still suffer with bad anxiety although i'm not with a CPN anymore or worker. I just rely on my gp.

 

I'm wondering whether to add one thing. My flat is very dear to me as it gives me an independent feeling but atos may see this as 'if he can live alone, he must be ok' the same with a bit of voluntary work i did, but had to stop. My disability adviser at Jobcenter+ has been great & she says that these things are good & part of my rehabilitation, but would atos see that? Would you mention these things?

 

thanks

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So far as your GP is concerned, ATOS are not really interested in a diagnosis or what your GP thinks you are fit to do, they are only interested in whether you meet the descriptors. Why not take a list of the descriptors where you think you score points and ask your GP to give his opinion on whether you meet them? It probably won't apply to your GP, but you should be aware that some GPs will no longer write letters to help claimants.

 

ATOS will ask about your living arrangements, so make sure you don't just say 'yes' when asked if you live alone, but say 'yes because I find living with other people too stressful'. Regarding the voluntary work, don't mention it unless the reason you stopped will support your claim - remember they make assumptions.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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The letter sent from 'Medical Services' does state that i should bring medical report from GP, consultant or social worker. I guess if the interviewer asked me if i was under a GP & i said no, that wouldn't help, so i guess it has some clout!

 

I will ask my GP on Wednesday as they must be familiar with what they usually give people. When i sent in the ESA50 a year or so ago, i never had to have an interview, with that one & the most recent,i sent the letter from my GP saying about her oppinion on whether i'm fit to work & my meds etc.

 

I have a flat, but i'm not always there, just the odd day. I stay with my family a lot as they help me, but need to think about becoming independent at my age & slowly adjusting when i'm on the mend!? something like this? I recall filling in the ESA50, i'm quite good at talking a lot & being in depth. :|

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Please remember , when you are at the assessment try to give your answers for the bad days , it is human nature to try and appear strong but all that will do is give them an excuse. Also remember that you may be being watched from the moment you approach the building although I saw no CCTV in leicester last week.

 

You say that you spend a lot of time at "home" . When you answer the questions try to think of when you are by yourself, i.e how do you shop, go to the Dr's , cook meals, bath, get out of bed etc. For example , I am very different when I am staying with my mother or my partner than I am when I am by myself. When someone else is around they encourage me top get up etc etc. Today I have been to intraining so if I said that they will assume I am ok to get up and go out, what they wouldn't know is that when I get back, after being out for 1 1/2 hrs I shut the door, make a brew and crawl back into bed and that is the next few hours taken care of.

 

I also made notes to remind myself of things I wanted to get across, maybe things I hadn't explained well on the form . I also had a letter with me that stated some things that I didn't want the person who was with me to know, that might be more so having your father there...if it had been mine I would not have said half of how I really feel .

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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I saw my Dr & she said that i will most likely lose the assessment & therefor its best to concentrate on winning the appeal & thats where she will help.

I recall going to an assessment with my partner some years ago, she had issues & was visibly shaking & crying infront of the guy & yet he only scored her 8.

 

Can i ask about the mandatory consideration. Will the oppertunity to do this come with the letter telling me whether i have passed or failed the test?

 

Thanks

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I saw my Dr & she said that i will most likely lose the assessment & therefor its best to concentrate on winning the appeal & thats where she will help.

I recall going to an assessment with my partner some years ago, she had issues & was visibly shaking & crying infront of the guy & yet he only scored her 8.

 

Can i ask about the mandatory consideration. Will the oppertunity to do this come with the letter telling me whether i have passed or failed the test?

 

Thanks

 

Be careful about asking for a mandatory consideration which you have to give them notice within 4 weeks if it's past the 4 weeks you've sent them nothing, you'll find yourself claiming Jobseekers allowance because if you do not get in touch with the dwp within that 4 weeks the mandatory consideration can go on for ever because they don't have a time limit on it, another clever way the dwp cut benefit and get sick people on job seekers.

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I am going to make no comment whatsoever about your GPs remarks since it won't help at this point.

 

If you don't score enough points in the assessment (and since you've not even had to attend an assessment before I'd think there is a good chance you will) then you can ask for mandatory reconsideration as soon as you are told the decision. You have 4 weeks from when you receive the letter telling you of the decision, which will be plenty of time to seek more help if you need it.

 

Easier said than done, I know, but try not to worry about the outcome for now and just focus on the actual assessment and what you want to get across to the HCP - I would even go so far as talking it through with your Dad so he's prepared as well. I did this with my husband - even with physical problems your nearest and dearest don't know how it affects you unless you tell them, and with mental health issues it's even more important to talk it through.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Hi everyone

 

So i've had a letter to go to an Atos 1 on 1 assessment. This is the 1st i've asked to go to, even though my medical issue (anxiety) has been an issue for over 10 years. Just a few questions that i'd appreciate help with.

 

1. I've always sent in letters from my G.P when filling in forms, letters that a doctor writes to say i'm unfit for work, so how is it that i have to attend an Atos 1 on 1?. I see that they are supposed to be health care professionals, but not Dr's so are they undermining what a Dr says?

 

2. Atos's contract with the government is stopping. Is it because of issues they have had with patients, or have they admitted that they aren't good at what they do? If so may appeals are won, there surely is a problem with the initial 1 on 1.?

 

Atos contract has stopped, Atos and DWP are avoiding each other, Atos because they have now have a bad reputation and they cannot employe proper genuine medical doctors to carry out the medical assessment. There won't be any medical assessment until further notcie, please visit benefitsandwork website for more info, dwp was trying to hide that little info from MPs and claimants but benefitsandwork website go that info from the dwp via Freedom and Information Act.

 

3. Are they qualified to over rule a Dr & how can this be when their contracted has been terminated. I hear that it comes into practice next year, but surely they shouldn't be examining people now!..

 

Atos are not qualified to rule over a genuine medical professional DR they were told in a court case to stop their medical assessment and the judge said that all their so call Medical professionals were not fit to carrying any medical assessment and to employment genuine medical professional.

 

I am looking through the threads to find info, is there a list of questions that i can expect?

 

Question they may ask you at the medical.

 

1. do you watch tv, read books, go to the shop to buy something and do you come back with proper change? that is a very tricky question be careful how you answer to that one. it's not about returning back with the right change it's about coming back with the right item, for example if you went to buy a loaf of bread but return home with a lighter that is if you remember at all what you are doing by the time you are in the shop. that mean you are not capable to remember or understand what you are buying that being you are a mentally ill person.

 

2. do you have a pet, do you go out and about, traveling, do you cook for yourself, wash your clothes, bathing, needing help to go to the toilet, using a telephone, setting up an alarm clock, preparing a meal if you say you cannot prepare a meal because you may cut yourself that is not a good answer because they would say you are aware of danger, if you are aware you will get zero point. The thing is not to be aware of danger that would get you 15 points again this is under the Mental illness descriptors.

 

By the way please do record your medical, you must let them know in advance, I didn't I just lay my ipad on the table turned on record and got the medical recorded, atos people tend to extremely nervous about recording they'll be more nervous than you are because it won't be a genuine medical professional that you would see, they could be midwife, medical student anyone, my friend had a gynae nurse seeing to her mental health medical assessment she didn't even existed or have a medical number from the general medical council when I rang the general medical council and asked about her.

 

hope this helps.

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thanks, so it's best to forget about the mandatory consideration & go straight to the appeal.?

 

"Atos are not qualified to rule over a genuine medical professional DR they were told in a court case to stop their medical assessment and the judge said that all their so call Medical professionals were not fit to carrying any medical assessment and to employment genuine medical professional".

 

If this is the case, should i hand over the letter that i have from my gp saying i'm not fit for work? Do i call them the day before & ask for it to be recorded & then after the medical, ask for the tape? I am going to be a state on the day, it's 10 days away & i can't say how bad i feel. I tell them this too.

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You can no longer go straight to appeal, you have to go to mandatory reconsideration first.

 

As previously stated, whilst a letter from your GP won't hurt, ATOS aren't interested in his/her opinion of whether you can work, only whether you meet the criteria for ESA.

 

If you phone the day before your assessment to ask for it to be recorded, the chances are they will say no. They have a limited number of machines available which have to be moved from centre to centre so the chances of them having one available are very slim. You could insist on a recording but it will almost certainly mean your assessment is postponed, sometimes for a very long time. Since you will continue being paid your benefit in the meantime it's up to you if you want to potentially delay things for some time or get it over with. If you must have your assessment recorded, phone and ask tomorrow and they may be able to arrange it in time.

 

You could keep a diary from now until the day of the assessment and list everything that upsets you and how. If you hand that to the HCP at the beginning, they are obliged to read it.

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Ok, i will ditch the recording as i do want to get it over with. The thing is with my ilness, it's anxiety, worry, catastrophizing, physical stress when anything like this crops up. I am generally ok in my own walls what i do, its when i'm pushed out a comfort zone. My partner was having issues over unresolved things like bereavement & when she was raped, but only got 8. Her & her gp scored her 94.

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so its this friday, am really worried. The reason my condition worsens is because i've got to go to the assessment. What if they ask how i got there, i can go on bus with my dad, but how will they see that, what if they ask who does my shopping, i mean i do it but that's different than working full time & not being in charge of what i do.

 

Do i have to notify housing benefit if i'm put on jsa uintil i do my appeal?

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You wait for the letter.

 

If you go on the bus with someone you make sure they know that the only way you could travel on the bus is with someone helping you. Remember that the medical is only a snapshot so talk about the bad days rather than the good ones.

As for shopping, when you go, how far is it, how do you get there, do you need a list

An example for me is that I have a convenience store over the road from my flat, I shop there when I know it will be quiet and at times I walk in and have to walk out again

 

Another question they might ask is how do you get to the Drs and get your prescriptions. Well I order mine online and the chemist picks them up . The chemist is literally downstairs, I could drill a hole through my floor and be in the shop. My ex wife used to get her prescriptions delivered , they did it all for her

 

Lots of things to suggest but try not to get too stressed, if you need to make a list , do that and refer to it

 

I am still waiting for my outcome and have been waiting nearly 4 weeks but my last lot of money was paid as normal

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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