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Hi all,

 

So after being left alone for more than 4 years despite their view that I'd be fully recovered from my genetic condition in 2 years, the dreaded envelope finally landed on the doormat this morninng.

 

Absolutely perfect timing as it's been hanging around in the ether for 6 days so I basically have 3 weeks to return it with a family reunion event this weekend, my son's wedding the following weekend previewed by various family members arriving and wanting entertaining and followed by a 2 week holiday - we get back 2 days after the form is supposed to be in, and whilst we're away the renewal form for my PIP should arrive.

 

For various reasons, it would normally take me 4-6 weeks to get a form like this done, and DWP know but haven't bothered to tell whatever the tossers are called now that I need an electronic version of the form, though I'm sure I'll be able to locate one online somewhere.

 

I know I'm not going to starve if we end up in a fight over this so I'm much better off than most ESA claimants, but even so I feel sick and I'm shaking. After the last fiasco with ESA then the repeat with PIP, I feel I have every right to be scared about what this will do to me this time.

 

For anyone interested, my previous ESA thread is here :-

 

https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?337937-IB-to-ESA-migration/page16

 

and the PIP thread is here :-

 

https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?452510-Blatant-discrimination-by-DWP-RENEWED-FOR-3-YEARS

Edited by Andyorch
edited

RMW

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

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I emailed a query to the 'new' assessment provider for ESA.

 

The auto response is from the same address that ATOS used.


RMW

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DWP use Maximus now for the assessments, but the IT systems they took over are still ATOS.

 

As this is a re-referral, ESA and the assessors will have the previous information.

 

If you have copies of previous assessments you will know the basis of why you received the award. This is about confirming that you are in the same health situation or worse health condition, therefore the award should be continued.

 

If enough up to date evidence e.g. Full doctors report/letter is provided, they might decide that a face to face assessment is not required and issue their report to DWP based on the documents supplied by you. When you return the ESA 50 form, you should provide details of your Doctors they can contact for more information if they require it.


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Like many people with permanent disability and untreatable conditions, I no longer see any specialists and often only see my GP once a year for my annual review.

However, as it took 10 minutes to put me in the support group last time and the condition which I got points for cannot improve without a miracle, I've got my fingers crossed about the assessment but I'm not holding my breath.

 

Anyone with any sense wouldn't have bothered insisting on an assessment for PIP either, but they did until I made them agree to a home assessment, after which they decided I didn't need a face to face at all.

 

I am slightly concerned that Maximus insist that if you can get to your GP's surgery, you can get to an assessment centre when my surgery is 300m away but their nearest assessment centre would involve a train and a bus that only runs once an hour and only has one wheelchair space. There's also a major difference between visiting a GP, whom you know well, and going to an assessment which could halve your income.

 

I didn't sleep last night.

My brain knows that logically I will stay in the support group even if we have to go to a tribunal to get there, but it's not my brain in charge at the moment.

 

Maximus have replied already, with a copy and paste job from their website.

 

Does anyone know what DWP's rules are for them providing home assessments

- I know what Maximus' rules are

- I have to pay for my GP to write them a letter to confirm that I'm not lying about the wheelchair.

Edited by dx100uk
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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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I managed to get the form back in plenty of time, Maximus should have had it for 2 weeks now.

 

I'm trying not to obsess about it and I can't quite bring myself to ask them how long it might be.

 

Whilst I'm waiting, I'm making a start on the PIP form

- since I can't go out at the moment, I've got plenty of time.


RMW

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As far as I am aware, ATOS operate the Idependent Assessment Services for PIP claims and Maximus do the ESA claims. I have a complaint with the Independent Case Examiner at the moment but the workload must be huge as they are currently dealing with cases from July last year :|

 

 

I have to say that Maximus were brilliant with me but ATOS screwed me over and nobody wants to read the transcript of the recording I made because I did it secretly. I'm hoping ICE will read the transcript or listen to the recording

 

 

No doubt the assessor will twist your responses as they did in mine.


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I have no experience of Maximus, but I've had complaints about ATOS go to the ICE twice now, and be at least partially upheld.

The last one took 15 months from when the complaint was accepted to when ICE started investigating, but I believe the wait is getting longer.

The increase in their workload is apparently mostly down to ATOS/Maximus complaints.

 

ICE refused to investigate the standard of ATOS' report as they said I should have appealed even though DWP told me I couldn't appeal as I'd got the maximum award anyway so all the errors and omissions were irrelevant.


RMW

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the fight begins.

After waiting 10 weeks I was sick of the sword hanging over my neck contacted Maximus to enquire as to the current position.

Immediate reply is that it was decided 6 weeks ago that I need another face to face and they'll send me an appointment as soon as one is available at an assessment centre within 90 minutes travel time of my home address.

 

When I pointed out that I would need a home visit as none of those centres are wheelchair accessible (the nearest is on the 1st floor of a DWP building they won't let me in, the next nearest is on the 3rd floor of a DWP building ........, been here before, the nearest genuinely accessible centre is over 40 miles away with no reasonable means of getting from here to there via public transport) out trotted the 'you must have a letter from your GP specifying why ...'.

 

I pointed out that this was included with my form, however I am already absolutely certain that no one has actually even looked at the form.

I deliberately stapled 8 copies of a statement which specified why I needed a home visit and what was likely to happen if they messed up as badly as ATOS did over the bits that I was fairly sure would be most likely to get read - e.g. the list of conditions, medication etc - to try to prevent the same fiasco from happening again.

 

Whilst I am reasonably confident of staying in the support group, I do not need that sword hanging over my neck for months on end whilst they make appointments at places that won't let me in then eventually relent and book a home visit only for that to be (at best, most often they just don't turn up) cancelled at the last minute.

 

Hubby and I have decided that this really is the last time that an assessment provider will do this to me and it's unfortunate for Maximus that they will be bearing the brunt of ATOS' negligence, but so far they appear to be no better. It's discriminatory to make me jump through hoops to get a home visit (not least the £35 my GP charges for a letter, many won't provide one at all) because I'm too disabled to be allowed in to their assessment centres and it's discriminatory to make me wait months longer for a home visit because so few of their staff are willing to do them, again because I'm too disabled.

 

For anyone that thinks I'm over-reacting, the last ESA fiasco took near enough 2 years to conclude after 12 failed appointments, the actual assessment taking less than 10 minutes and consisting of me verbally confirming information that was on the original form.

 

The PIP assessment also carried out (eventually) by ATOS caused such stress that I ended up in hospital with a serious flare that has permanently damaged my digestive system.

The fact that I'm facing another PIP assessment as well at the moment is just the icing on the cake.

 

I meet at least 2 different support group criteria, short of a miracle my function is not going to improve and the only people benefitting from repeatedly putting me through this are the assessment providers - it's certainly not benefitting me and DWP are paying for assessments with no hope of reducing the amount they pay me to offset the cost.

 

The text of the notice applied liberally to my ESA50 form is

 

'This notice has been deliberately positioned so that anyone reading this form cannot deny that the likely consequences of asking me to attend an assessment centre have been brought to their attention. If you are intending to recommend that I be subjected to another face-to-face assessment, you must first read the relevant sections of this form relating to xxxxxxxxxx and all of the information in the ‘face-to-face assessment’ section, including dates when I cannot attend.

 

Please also be aware that a well-known disability campaign group will be supporting me in a claim of disability discrimination and negligence should the aforementioned information be disregarded again, which may include action against the specific HCPs involved if they should have failed to have robustly justified any decision regarding the necessity for and location of any face-to-face assessment.'


RMW

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

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You just couldn't make it up, could you!

 

They should have read everything you sent before but I bet they didn't read your letter, just relied on the form instead. A home visit should be a matter of routine rather than a problem for them. Assuming they have assessors that have certain knowledge of certain conditions should dictate who comes to assess you.

 

By the way, ICE have said they will listen to my recording and read the transcript so ATOS should get a severe slapped wrist over my case.


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They haven't read anything beyond my name and NI number because I put copies of that notice over the bits I thought they were most likely to read - the list of conditions, medications, GP details etc. There were 8 copies at various points in the form, and they were stapled on both sides so would have had to be physically removed to read what was underneath.

 

It's very clearly the case that everyone is put in the assessment queue regardless of what is on the form, and only if you protest will anyone (possibly) actually read any of the information sent in. I suspect that it's far more profitable to do a face to face assessment than anything else, my only hope might be that it's so expensive to do home visits that they decide not to bother.

 

Excellent news over your complaint, fingers crossed that it has some effect.

Edited by honeybee13
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RMW

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Well I know they read the bit under one of the notices as they've contacted my GP.

Amongst other things her reply confirmed I've been in a wheelchair since 2012 and there is no prospect of any improvement.

 

She included a comment from the specialist made nearly 3 years ago saying despite the wheelchair I still needed to keep as mobile as possible for as long as possible.

This is the only comment that Maximus have picked up on and they have misquoted it as 'your specialist has recommended you be more mobile' to justify asking me to go to an assessment centre.

 

Is it me or is that actually offensive?

I can't work out why they would make that comment unless they're suggesting the wheelchair is a lifestyle choice rather than a medical necessity?


RMW

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We all know that ATOS bend to the Goverments will and will pick up on any 'technicality' to refuse a claim. ATOS claim they have no say on the final decision as that is made by a DWP decision maker. The decision maker relies on an accurate assessment and based on what you have said here, this should have been a purely paper exercise, not making you go to an assessment.

 

Offensive? Don't know but in my opinion taking one small part of a statement and not including the whole statement is misleading at best.

 

 

As I said earlier, ATOS screwed me over. This was on mobility grounds. Strange that I have now been awarded a blue badge from my council on mobility grounds??


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I suppose it depends on how you interpret 'mobile', RMW. Could your GP be more specific to Maximus?

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Both my GP and I interpreted Maximus' comment as meaning if I tried harder I could manage without the wheelchair so they could let me in to their non-ground floor assessment centres. We could be wrong, so I've asked them to explain what they meant by misquoting it.

My GP is pretty annoyed that they've asked her to fill in their form then pretty much ignored everything she said and has made that quite clear in the letter she gave me to pass on to them, which she didn't charge for!

The long-awaited PIP review forms finally arrived yesterday, dated 7th December. Unless I pay my own 1st class postage, to get them back on time I need to get them to the post office by 1st January according to Royal Mail, which gives me less than 2 weeks. Luckily, I've got a nice PDF with all the evidence I sent for ESA plus I'll include a copy of the GP's letter and form plus not that much has changed so far as function is concerned so it shouldn't take long to edit what I sent in last time. I'm ingnoring the review form, I don't trust them enough to risk not providing a lot of details.


RMW

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Update

I asked Maximus who asked DWP for all the data they hold relating to my most recent ESA claim since Maximus wouldn't just give me a copy of the file. The time limit under GDPR runs out tomorrow. I expect DWP will blame the Christmas holidays for the delay when I complain.

 

This will of course be used as evidence against them in my complaint about them not giving me extra time to complete my PIP forms which were even more badly delayed by the Christmas holidays. I can almost hear the sound of them shooting themselves in the foot as they scramble about deciding which of the two complaints is likely to be most damaging to them.


RMW

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And I do so hope they say the month I've allowed them for a full response to my complaint isn't long enough when they expected me to complete their stupid form in half that time.


RMW

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More hassle - DWP cant send me the data I asked for because Maximus haven't sent it to them, but Maximus won't send it to me direct because 'they're not allowed to'. You really couldn't make this up. I also got told off for calling an email a letter.

 

On the plus side, since they've finally accepted that I can't get into their assessment centre, I don't need an assessment after all.


RMW

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What data are you looking to be sent to you ?

 

If this is the current assessment data, then ESA won't have the assessment reports and current file information. It will just be a file note on ESA system that an assessment was requested.

 

Maximus will hold the current file at their regional admin centre and would need ESA to agree to release this to you. So if you make a complaint to ESA, they will no doubt contact Maximus on your behalf to get the current file data released to you.


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I've got sick of being passed between DWP and Maximus and made this a formal complaint. I originally asked for one piece of information in connection with the original complaint which Maximus refused to disclose unless I made a formal SAR request to DWP. I thought it would be easier to just do the request rather than argue about whether it was appropriate to insist on one in that situation.

 

As Unclebulgaria has pointed out, as the assessment process hasn't yet been completed, DWP can't give me the information because they don't have it yet and they appear to be incapable of telling Maximus to either send it to DWP or (more reasonably) send it to me direct. This has now been going on for 2 months and so far as I am aware there's no exemption from the GDPR time limits for this sort of situation and it shouldn't be up to me to repeatedly chase after two different organisations. This has so far involved 3 letters to DWP and countless emails to Maximus and to be frank I have much more important things to do at the moment.

 

I'll update if/when I get a response.


RMW

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As Unclebulgaria has pointed out, as the assessment process hasn't yet been completed, DWP can't give me the information because they don't have it yet and they appear to be incapable of telling Maximus to either send it to DWP or (more reasonably) send it to me direct.

 

The DWP will be the Data Controller, and Maximus, merely the "data processor". As such, the DWP will be entirely responsible for supplying data requested via a SAR. A formal complaint to the ICO would be in order, and copy it to your local MP (although most of them are pretty useless).


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Maximus have now provided extracts from some of the information I asked for and have 'reviewed the file'. Despite this they insist they no longer have the information as it was all passed to DWP on 2nd January so either someone has a very good memory or they're lying.

 

They've also effectively admitted to negligence (asking me to attend an assessment centre) and disability discrimination (insisting on a GPs letter to get a home assessment regardless of what other evidence they have) and made a derisory offer of compensation.

 

I'm happy to take this to Court if I have to. I can draft the Particulars of Claim and deal with all the paperwork, however I am seeking support from an interested organisation as I would like a legal bod with experience of discrimination claims to check the particulars over and I will need assistance at Court. If anyone knows of an organisation that might be willing to help, please let me know.


RMW

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Is there a charity that helps people with your condition/s, RMW? They often have welfare rights type people and other contacts, I would think.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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I've messaged a few possible sources of help.


RMW

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I am receiving help with the court claim against Maximus, however I have just been provided with some of the information I asked DWP for on 4th December and I now have yet more issues.

 

The decision maker admits he/she didn't have my ESA50 form or any evidence other than a very brief report from Maximus, but still though it OK to make a totally ridiculous decision based on a MED3. The last time I had to send in a sick note was in 2005, and I don't think they were even called 'Med3' then. The decision, though made over a month ago, hasn't actually been communicated to me. Can I do a mandatory reconsideration request anyway?

 

The advice from Maximus was on a form 'ESA85A'. There's no space for any details of what conditions I have or what medication I take etc, just two paragraphs saying what points I score for one descriptor, no mention of any others and the prognosis given in the 'prognosis' section differs from the prognosis in the 'justification' section. Is this normal? Shouldn't there be more pages (it does say page 1 of 2, the second page is blank apart from a signature and date).


RMW

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You can certainly put in for a mandatory reconsideration. If they say "out of time", there have been more than one tribunal ruling knocking back the DWP time limits. You have solid grounds for a MR as the decision has been made without having any evidence to hand. Quite shocking that they should make a decision based on a single paragraph form a (poorly) qualified "health worker".


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