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hungrydaze
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« on: August 15, 2017, 09:50:14 AM »

Horrible letter just dropped through the front door. An appointment for an "Assessment" with a health care professional in early September. It is 5 months since I sent my Capability for Work Questionnaire back. I sent plenty of evidence as well as detailed answers. Last time(4 years ago) I didn't require an assessment. I have had 2 previously and I am absolutely gutted that my form and evidence wasn't deemed sufficient this time around. My condition has worsened since then. I am already starting to get myself worked up into a state of worry and panic. Just what I don't need. Any advice or support for this would be so gratefully welcomed and appreciated. To make matters worse they require me to be in the centre of Manchester for 9.01am!!
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agapanthus
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2017, 11:47:36 AM »

I feel for you Hungrydaze. It's a new company doing these assessments since your last assessment which would have been ATOS, so maybe they are pushing for more face to face ones. I am retired now but previously I had 4 assessments in 5 years and only the first one was face to face.

I have been helping my son to do his application and await his result with some trepidation as he has not had a face to face for 10 years - his evidence sent always being enough until now. It's been 6 weeks since he sent his forms off so wondering if he will get hauled in too. I am quite concerned for him as he has severe mental health issues, and the assessments for these are particularly bad.

I do know that you can change your appointment if you need to re the time sent - but only once. How severe are you? Are you severe enough that you would find it hard to get to that assessment? If you feel you need a home visit then you would need to get the support of your GP in that though (they have to write a letter stating this or email/fax the assessment people).

I would recommend that you ask for your assessment to be recorded, but if you do and you haven't put it on your form then you need to contact them asap about this. I just think it puts them on their guard and is good evidence if needed at a tribunal. They have to provide the equipment for this (PIP is different). Also I would suggest that you don't go to the assessment alone if you are not able to get a home assessment, as again I think having someone with you is helpful - maybe someone else to drive you there preferably. I had someone taking notes at mine, but if you have it recorded then that's not quite so necessary.

I would suggest that you read guides online on how to tackle the assessment. I think there is plenty of info on the Action for ME site (they have free booklets online there).

If I think of anything else I will let you know.
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2017, 12:06:27 PM »

Hi, thank you ever so much for your concern it is much appreciated. In terms of my severity I am able to get to the centre but only if my father drives me there(he is nearly 84 so not good for him).
I tried to get my appointment changed last time but they were unwilling to do so as they said the time(9am again would you believe)was not a valid reason despite the obvious problem of rush hour traffic. I guess this time with the appointment being a whole minute later will certainly not cut any ice! I will certainly have a look on the Action for ME site.

I am wondering if I need to get a new letter from my GP? She very kindly did one for me to send with my form back in March.

The next 3 weeks will be very unpleasant with the worry of the whole thing - plus of course the time afterwards waiting for the result. I had begun to hope I would be alright again this time. What more can you do on the form? Last time was good enough - this time apparently not.
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agapanthus
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 05:06:49 PM »

Well HD, I would have thought that being dependent on your 84 year old father for transport would be enough for them to reconsider, but I know they are not reasonable about such issues.

The letter from your GP done in March for the form should be sufficient as it's going to be within the same year. How good was it as a letter of support?

I have a horrible suspicion that none of this has to do with you or how well you have done your form. I do hope that you get someone reasonable doing your assessment, but as I said before, I do feel for you. The system itself is broken in my opinion, and sadly sometimes whatever you do it's not enough. At least the tribunal service is still independent of the DWP and the assessors though I hope it won't come to that for you.
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 01:17:31 PM »

I rang the Advisory Service and explained my situation - mainly the age of my father and the logistical nightmare of getting into the middle of Manchester for such a ridiculous time. To my surprise they offered me an alternative appointment 4 days later at a far more reasonable time of 3.15pm, naturally I accepted this.

It was an excellent letter of support from my GP. It explained my situation perfectly and confirmed my diagnosis as well as my ongoing health problems and previous treatments.

I really do hope I get someone who is understanding and reasonable in their attitude. Hopefully changing my appointment won't go against me, but it might go in my favour as I can explain the impracticalities of getting there for such a ridiculous time in my state of health?

I can't do anymore but hope it all goes well. The whole process is taking forever. Well over 6 months by the time of my "medical".
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 01:27:22 PM by hungrydaze » Logged
Anne56
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 02:43:43 PM »

Good luck hungrydaze. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.  Wink
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2017, 02:48:20 PM »

Anne, thank you for your support. I do appreciate it very much.
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Talen
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 08:24:49 PM »

Hi,

Similar history and situation to you.  My face to face letter arrived this week.  I can empathise with you as I am feeling the same stress.

Does anyone know what the face to face actually entails?  I can see me being extremely annoyed if they start asking me to verbalise every piece of information I have already provided.
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agapanthus
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2017, 09:30:51 PM »

Talen - the face to face (and I have to admit that my last one was more than 5 years ago now when I was on ESA) is not precisely the same as the form but in one sense they are checking out that what you wrote ties up with what they ask you. From memory they go through your day, and ask you things that can trip you up e.g. about getting up, washing yourself, dressing, getting meals, going out for shopping or socialising, what you do at home (e.g. TV), looking after pets. Everything is scrutinised and conclusions are reached on what you say.

I was pretty careful about most things, and said I did not go into supermarkets and that my husband did most of the shopping. Going shopping in a supermarket can indicate for example that you can walk a good distance. With ME then you have to point out that if you do things then you will struggle to recover afterwards. I slipped up once re pets.... said I didn't have pets, but that I had a wormery. It was supposed to be a sort of joke, as i was nervous, but even that got written down in evidence.

Watching Tv they will assume that you can follow the stories, and therefore your concentration is OK. So many wrong assumptions....

Then they will do a physical exam of you at the end and ask you to do some movements if you are able to. I was reasonably mobile at the time, so my exam showed no problems. I think it was only my very good evidence that got me through the ESA at the time into WRAG. Somehow I persuaded them next time that I was ill enough for the Support Group again with the evidence I think I sent them.
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Wits_End
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2017, 11:08:46 PM »

Agapanthus is right: they will make assumptions.  So you need to shut those assumptions down as much as possible by expanding on everything, which can be really tiring.  So you may sit in front of the TV for an hour, but you may need to stress that you aren't actually watching/concentrating for the whole time, for example.  Do take someone with you who's familiar with your condition and can help by prompting you and filling in where necessary.  And remember that you are required to be able to do whatever activity it it safely, to an acceptable standard as often as you need to and in a reasonable length of time.

Action for ME has been mentioned, but don't forget the ME Association as well: they have links to ESA and PIP guides on their homepage: http://www.meassociation.org.uk/me-association/

I've managed to blot out most of the memory of the ESA assessment: not sure if we still have the tape recording to go over, or not.  I certainly think there was overlap with what the forms had asked, but am not sure how much.

If you can, get hold of a copy of the WCA Handbook - it will give you an idea of the sort of thing the assessors are looking for, even if it is long!  Also - and this is really important - the benefits and work handbook on ESA.  Also try this page: https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/start-the-esa-test.  The other thing that's useful is the two publications shown on this page: https://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance - I managed to download a partial sample copy of them, which was VERY helpful (you have to pay for the whole thing). Not sure whether that's still an option

Finally, I'm going to finish with some advice I was given:

"The assessors will be making all sorts of assumptions from very innocent looking questions, so any question must be answered with caveats and explanations. Any pain or discomfort during the examination, even minor, should be reported. Insist they write down what you say and not just yes/no responses.
The trip to the assessment and even where you park and how you get into the building and to the waiting area often forms part of the test and can count against you. So you should never push yourself to do things you wouldn't normally do in order to attend.
I realise that XXX probably is by the mere fact of going, but the effort should be minimised as much as possible. Someone should drive her, they should park at the entrance or she should be dropped off there and she should either be helped to walk in there or borrow an aid for the day.
You may also be observed while sitting in the waiting area, so do be aware of this. Ironically if they run late and you've waited a long time but you don't complain, they may decide you can sit long periods without discomfort/fatigue. Similarly if you sat there without appearing to be in any pain etc... Something as simple as picking your bag off the floor could also count against you depending on what you had said on your form."
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agapanthus
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 07:05:46 AM »

So pleased HungryDaze that you have a much better time for your assessment. Also good that your Dr's letter is helpful!

Everything that Wits_End has added is useful for anyone doing the assesment. Good luck to you too Talen.
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Talen
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 10:40:07 AM »

Thanks for taking the time to type this advise agapanthus and  Wits_End.  They did try to trip me up with my PIP face to face several times a few months ago but I caught them all. Do I need to take my PIP assessment with me which gave me 10 points on self-care.  Also my recent blue badge award, after a walking assessment with an occupational therapist, although this didn't really help with the mobility component I got 4 points).  Some the assessor decided I could walk 50 - 100m by simply asking me to raise each knee in a sitting position ie non-weight bearing.

 38
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agapanthus
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 08:35:00 AM »

Not a bad idea to have the PIP stuff and Blue Badge with you Talen in case you want to refer to them, or copy them and ask them to include with your other evidence. They should have access to your PIP - but do they look for it? I doubt it......don't forget that you can always copy these things and send them with your original paperwork, or on afterwards, or do both even to cover all bases! Sorry to hear that the Blue Badge assessment didn't help re the PIP mobility - sounds as if it was ideal evidence.

I always write a letter, not too long, entitled Dear Decision Maker which I put right at the top of all the paperwork with some points that I want them to know, or pointing to specific evidence - me being a cynic and thinking maybe that's the only thing they will bother to read! (now done for my son, rather than myself being retired).
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Talen
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 09:39:39 PM »

Thanks Aggie.  A letter to the decision-maker sounds like a good idea.  It looks like hungrydaze's face to face will be before me.  I hope they post their experience here.

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hungrydaze
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« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2017, 02:58:36 PM »

Thanks everyone for their wonderful advice and support. It is extremely useful and I will be following it during my planning for the meeting.

Good luck to you Talen, I will certainly post my experiences on here, so hopefully a few pointer for you.

I wonder, as well as my letter from my GP, if it is worth taking previous correspondence from my Consultant - including my discharge letter(only discharged due to pressure on resources and lack of any progress in my condition after 5 years of care). I did send this along with my ESA form but I doubt they read it? I also have my Tribunal Certificate from 2011(held back as a last resort).

The countdown has begun.
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Talen
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« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 05:19:28 PM »

The more medical evidence you can provide the better in my opinion.

Were you discharged by the consultant recently?
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 05:42:32 PM »

Not particularly recently.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 05:48:44 PM by hungrydaze » Logged
Talen
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 06:52:04 PM »

Presumably it was after your last assessment.  I gave them all my medical letters since my last assessment.  I can understand why you might be cautious about submitting that discharge letter.  I am fortunate in the sense I am currently undergoing CFS therapy.

My face to face was supposed to occur last week but they telephoned me at midday (one hour before my appointment) to inform me they had delays from the morning so all afternoon appointments were being cancelled and rescheduled.  I was unable to sleep the night before my appointment as I had worked myself up into a right mess.  I was so angry with them cancelling at short notice.

I received the rescheduled appointment in the post today.
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2017, 11:21:56 AM »

It was after my last assessment. However, my consultant told me when I saw her for the last time not to worry about ongoing assessments/claims as I am clearly not well as is stated in the discharge letter. So fingers crossed.

Glad you have a rescheduled appointment- just a bit longer to wait I guess. I can fully appreciate your stress the night before and being angry at the delay, not nice.
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Talen
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« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2017, 07:53:44 PM »

Good luck and fingers crossed for you.   I will  post my experience of the face to face as well.
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neptuno
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« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2017, 06:35:25 PM »

Good Luck to you both.  fingerscrossed
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Talen
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« Reply #21 on: September 10, 2017, 11:09:17 AM »

Thanks nep
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Talen
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« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2017, 10:44:18 PM »

Just to feed back, my face to face on Monday only lasted 5 minutes.  Well I say 5, I pent 30 minutes waiting and the chair was extremely uncomfortable causing pain.  I told the assessor this and she apologised saying she had been reading my notes and that she didn't need to keep me.  No questions or tasks.  In fact she was a really nice lady.  I had prepared myself for another assessor like the horrible lady that did my PIP a few months ago.  I feel so lucky.

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agapanthus
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 08:33:36 AM »

That does sound very hopeful Talen.  fingerscrossed

If not then you would have good reason to complain at such a short assessment.
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hungrydaze
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« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2017, 03:54:47 PM »

Fingers crossed for you Talen.

I have just returned from my own assessment. I was kept waiting for 1 hour and 20mins! Luckily I was able to spend some of the time in the car(parked right by the entrance). I was offered the chance to rebook, again, but declined as it would have been my 4th different one in the space of a few days due to time and overrunning issues. The extra stress wasn't worth it.

Anyway, the lady doing the medical(who by the way was an actual nurse) was very understanding of the time delay and of the consequences to my health. I was in approximately 30mins. At the end of which she said she wouldn't do a physical due to me being overtired after waiting for so long and the aftereffects it would have on me over the next few days. Hopefully it went as well as it could.

So now the waiting begins again.
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