Monday 18 March 2013

Ongoing Torment of DWP's ESA50 Form

  1. If you think it is easy to claim benefits/defraud taxpayers then you have never had to deal with an ESA50 form, which is in actual fact a 20-page booklet. Many folk live in perpetual fear of its arrival. Here's the electronic trail of my dealings with it.
    [Image description: front & back pages of ESA50; © Crown presumed]

    The form was sent to me by ATOS, the DWP's agents, on Valentine's Day. My daily anxiety converted instantly to full-blown panic! So I looked on the internet for advice and found support.

  2. Via Nick, @MyLegalForum on Twitter:
  3. Check out interactive guide to all 17 questions on  Very helpful, updated ESA regs coming soon!
  4. Despite much stress, fitful sleep and my usual health problems at this time of the year:
  5. After two-and-a-half weeks & 5,646 words my 1st draft of the ESA50 is complete. Just a brain-dump at moment & needs much emending. But phew!
  6. An activist wondered why more folk were not taking actions:
  7. @edwinmandella @WDAnews @johnpringdns Because we are too busy fighting other actions and filling in #DWP forms, perhaps? %S
  8. Then the great Sue Marsh came along and chivvied us:
  9. "****ESA is the most terrible failure of any developed nation for a very long time. The reasons are numerous and utterly undeniable. The government has failed to implement Harrington with any commitment and is actively increasing the rate at which vulnerable people face a failing and unfair test. We have engaged with a democratic process that has failed us at every stage. We have no choice left but to stop this ourselves. Over 100,000 people now face some kind of ESA assessment every MONTH. We can't afford to wait. ****"

    Nigh on everyone who is chronically sick &/or disabled can get involved with this crowd-sourcing action. Click on the link and get started now... CRH

  10. Colin-Roy Hunter on f/b, Altrincham & Sale West (Graham Brady, Chair '22 C'ttee)
    @criquaer on twitter
    @criquaer50 on storify - (last three months averaged 3,000+ viewings) happy to post there if worth it.

    The Form-Filling followed by The Waiting with no acknowledgement or updates as to how one's claim is progressing. The Waste-of-Money.

    October new DLA form; ATOS doctor visited on New Year's Eve; decision end January; February ESA form. Winter is my worst time. For more than a decade I have been asking them to send forms in summer months when i am most able to deal with them. As I am house-bound this time of year will mean another ATOS visit.
  11. Fellow tweeps try to help each other out wherever we can:
  12. @criquaer Could U please send that link to ESA form again. I lost it copying & pasting!
  13. @criquaer- Colin, I don't think so It may have been one about filling in ESA Form beneficially & correctly, I follow Black Triangle anyway
  14.  OK Finn: think I know the one you mean. Will have a look now... %) 
  15. Sue Marsh's next plea for crowd-sourced input was a request for ESA stats and media tales.
  16. Virtually every last one of us can get involved with this crowd-sourced campaign. Please do. %) CRH

    "You in for today's little task? #ESAendgame
    *Waves at all the #ESAendgame people blushes a little there are so many, clears throat*

    So, most of the public don't have a clue what ESA or WCAs are. For the next few weeks we need to dig out and share some of the best ESA stories or TV programmes or radio debates we remember and share them around. Everywhere.

  17. I've dug out a few links from WOWpetition's facebook page. I believe should have other items as they have been collecting too. %)

    Too well for ESA, not well enough for JSA:

    Ed Miliband/Labour's letter on ATOS/WCA & failure to adapt quickly enough:

    Workprogramme's 0.2% success rate for getting disabled into work; so what point WCA?:

    "The iniquities of the work capability assessment (WCA), which disabled people have to pass in order to continue to receive benefit, have been well recorded. Decisions are overturned in 38% of appeals heard and 14% of GPs say they have patients who have self-harmed as a result of fear of the assessment or actually going through it. A further 6% of GPs say they have patients who have attempted or committed suicide.":

    "A poll out on Monday showing that a majority of the public believe welfare spending should be increased or kept at the current level has surprised many people.":

    Now "more and more stories are filtering into the press creating negativity for the Government. Stories of poverty, of starving children, of people dying..." These are "Sign[s] Of Weakness: The Government Are Losing Their War Against The Welfare ‘Scrounger’":

    "If, as IDS says, benefits are being paid as wages for work experience schemes, then ... I suspect that it breaches minimum wage laws. If they are not, as officially claimed by his department, then we have forced unpaid labour.":

    Clause 99, Catch 22 – The ESA Mandatory Second Revision and Appeals. Unfairness. Weeks or months with no income:

    "The figures are pretty stark: out of 68,000 ESA claimants placed on the Work Programme since it began, only 1,000 have found jobs lasting three months or more...":

    Stats counter official ConDems rhetorical narrative, so naturally DWP unwilling to comment...:

    **Trigger Warning** Alas since "not found" altho' listed when searching! Benefits Cuts, suicides and deaths. | Politics UK
    26 Dec 2012 ... Mark and Helen Mullins were found lying side by side in their home after committing suicide together.They had been left destitute after Helen ...
    Not technical enough how to track down. Sorry!

    Hope these are of use! %)
  18. At this point I vented my frustrations with the wretched form...
  19. @kerrypuddled Same for folk w/o MH difficulties: I am mainly bed-bound & asleep at this time of year. Took me 18 days for 1st draft of ESA50
  20. @kerrypuddled Have one week left to revise & emend as well as get it back to ATOS! .... YAAAAaaaaarrrrrrRRRRGHHHH!#ESAendgame #WoWpetition
  21. I certainly did not have the energy as well to do my usual things.
  22. Was very busy with my ESA50 form yesterday, so could not properly update you all. So, some of the following posts are NOT today's news, but I suspect still relevant if you WOWers have not already seen them. Do message us if you have any strong views one way or another about postings. We have very few 'unlikers'; but if the number or type of postings is annoying you, don't suffer in silence, let us know. In fact, feel free to give feedback about anything to do with the page. But be gentle with us, we are amateurs and sick/disabled ourselves! Hopefully, if I get around to it later - which means if I do not forget - I shall post about statistics for the number-nerds out there! Have a good day everybody! %D CRH
  23. Oops! I did forget to post the stats.
  24. Day 22 of . Now at 6,437 words. Almost there. Loads of photocopying to do & several printouts. Oh the joy of  forms!
  25.  Nick I have been using  to complete my form, but mine is ESA50 01/13. Has Part 3: Eating & Drinking. 1/2
  26.  ...(2/2) can you point to advice please. Also, I assume the rest of advice still relevant? Cheers! %)
  27. @criquaer Hi Colin, I have new ESA50 link but can't download at the moment; can you send me (a) another link that may work or (b) more >
  28. @criquaer > details as to what question actually asks? Can take it from there then. You will be ok using what you have been, just want to >
  29. @Mylegalforum p.16 Pt3 Eating & Drinking Q18 E&D: "Can you get food and drink to your mouth without help or prompting from another person?"
  30. @Mylegalforum No/Yes/It varies tickboxes. Then, "Can you chew and swallow food and drink without help or prompting from another person?"
  31. @Mylegalforum No/Yes - now go to *Other information*/It varies. Then, "Use this space to tell us about how you eat and drink, and...
  32. @Mylegalforum ...why you might need help." Hope that's what you required! And also, that you can assist, Nick. Cheers! %)
  33. @criquaer Regardless of what the form says Colin, the regulations (new) here > (number 16) appear to be exactly the >
  34. @criquaer > same on what is a Support Group descriptor. If you go on the new reg question you can't go far wrong. I can't access the new >
  35. @criquaer > form as we speak but the form is always at variance to the regulations anyway. Hope this helps?
  36. @Mylegalforum Thx Nick. Smashing! You're a sweetie. Can finish my form now - having just sucked up my very milky porridge! %D#WhoMasticates
  37. Sue Marsh requested feedback on how ESA might be improved.
  38. Day 4 of #ESAendgame and the third task: positive reactions & constructive criticism. Your chance to have your say, fellow WOWers! %) CRH
  39. Colin-Roy Hunter on f/b
    @criquaer on twitter
    Altrincham & Sale West
    Folk on ESA + DLA/PIP should not have to answer the same Q's and the information should be shared with SS so no need to repeat again. Forms should take proper account of fluctuating conditions. Supportive guidance should be sent out with forms giving e.g.s and explanations of terminology. Q's should not be worded to catch one out but to accurately assess one's needs. %)
  40. Meanwhile, some bad news broke. Whilst the DWP and their agents, ATOS, require of claimants' absolute punctuality, they are finding it increasingly difficult to keep to their deadlines.
  41. "The performance suggests that over the course of the full year around 260,000 people were not assessed within the target time... of 13 weeks [for ESA]."
  42. And by this point I was just totally exhausted with it all.
  43. Well folks, sorry I've not been as on the ball (for me) as usual; but I am just totally knackered. The bleedin' ESA50 is exhausting, draining, stressful. Hope to get it finished and sent off over next couple of days. Hopefully then normal service will resume. %) In the meantime: our page now has 632 likers - you are all just lovely and thanks for following. The petition at the time of posting tallies 25,941 so only 59 signatures to 26K. Thanks for sharing folks. We are still #18 in the e-petition chart out of 6,121 petitions or page 1 pf 307 pages. We are doing just great due to everyone's hard work, co-operation and mutual support. Many thanks, bless all you fellow WOWers & good night! %) CRH
  44. And the stress was getting to me...
  45.  Thx for  RT, Jane. I should be doing  form, but on here delaying... %S
  46. @criquaer Well good on you, but bad on you 2! Switch off lovey, fill in the dreaded form & metaphorically speaking "stick it where the.....!
  47. Bl**dy H*ll! Why is when one needs to print off important documents (this time my #ESA50 claim), the printer ALWAYS runs out of ink! %/
  48. @criquaer Am curious, where is the form and where is the printer and how is your mood and should I shut up? *preparing to duck* xxxx
  49. @BolshieBear Succeeded in p/c'ing 75 pages of docs & evidence, incl. SS care plan & medical health-care plan. Done 2X in case#ESA50 strays!
  50. [p/c = photocopy; SS = social services]
  51. @BolshieBear Now about to siesta. Still need to type up list of all docs & label them accordingly. Then I need to find s/o to post.#ESA50
  52.  completed: spell-checked & spaced at 19 pages; a mere 6,697 words; plus 11 attachments amounting to 78 pages; so 97 pages in total!
  53.  - on check through, realised I hadn't printed off one whole document. Will have to do later this morrow now, assuming not bed-bound!
  54.  - I anticipate being awarded something like 158 points and being placed in 'support group' (15 points required) by/.
  55.  - Thankfully, I've been able to cut&paste most of the latest form from other sources, incl. last  claim. Why so much duplication?
  56.  - In Jan  put me on indefinite after  Dr visit in Dec. Wish they'd used the info to save this aggro & cost!
  57. @criquaer Just sent men off today Colin not feeling to confident, quite worried
  58.  Well, given number of points I'm entitled to, I ought not to be worried, but I am - don't want to have to fight at tribunal! 
  59.  It's all the horror stories of ridiculous decision-making & being laughed out of Court, even rebuked. Negligent & cruel!
  60. @criquaer amazing how they just carry on as if it doesn't matter though isn't it.
  61.  It's the ethos & culture created & permitted by the politicians in charge. I don't blame the bureaucrats: have to do as instructed.
  62.  The DM has 1 hr to go thro' my 97 pages of evidence. Will take him/her the hour just to read the 7,000 word letter!
  63. [DM = decision-maker]
  64. @criquaer Well done Colin that'll teach the bastards!!
  65.  Well that was not my reasoning: I wanted to ensure that every area was backed up as best I can at this time of year. 
  66.  If they'd sent the form in the summer months, I would have been more active/weller & able to obtain more evidence. 
  67.  I wanted sufficient evidence, that in the event of a perverse decision by , any tribunal would quickly rule in my favour.
  68. @criquaer I know your reasoning is genuine Colin but it will still give them a headache which in my book is a bonus
  69. Well, I have finished my pro forma ESA50 which takes the form of a 6,700+ word letter amounting to 19 pages. This, along with the thirteen other documents made up of 78 pages, I slipped into plastic wallets. I have securely tied everything in order with extra-long treasury-tags. One of my housemates labelled all the documents for me yesterday evening; one is buying me a jiffy-bag large enough to contain it all; one took it to the Post Office and mailed it recorded delivery.

    [Image description: the ninety-eight pages making up my pro forma ESA50 claim.]

    Once I have that proof of postage I shall breathe a sigh of relief, but will not fully relax until I can print off the proof of receipt - some time next week.

    Then the waiting starts again...

    If you want to support folk who are struggling with all the welfare cuts, please sign the WOWPETITION at

  70. NB: Storify was unable to locate many of the tweets, etc. referred to in this text. It is for this reason that such have had to be cut & pasted in as plain text.

1 comment:

  1. My update on the saga can be found here: