Friday, 25 April 2014

An ESA tale...

Tammy Murray is the Housing Advice Service Manager for H&SA. She blogs about some of the issues we deal with through our advice service

"I am writing to you with regards to the recent decision  that you do not qualify for Employment Support Allowance....."

Sound familiar keep reading …….

Not qualifying for the support group of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is a common theme for many disabled people who are being reassessed for benefits.
We supported a person recently who was in this situation unnecessarily and this may have been different if they had the right advice and support from the outset.
The customer was receiving Employment Support Allowance (support group) and was requested to attend an interview to assess their current claim. Contained within the supporting evidence was reference to a number of physical and mental ailments and noted that they had a learning disability. 

The customer was notified shortly after the assessment that they had not qualified for the award and that they scored virtually zero in every category. This can be almost totally attributed to pure ignorance about learning disabilities by the assessor.

This customer was supported to seek advice and contacted H&SA. The advisor was able to look at the activities and descriptor criteria for an ESA award, all previous correspondence and came to a decision that there was a reasonable challenge to be made.

Every day, many people  are being informed they do not qualify and are not always in touch with organisations that can help. This particular case the customer scored 0 in many areas which was an incorrect judgment made by the assessor.

Unless you are equipped with the necessary information to support a challenge you could be left with a decision that is often the wrong one. This can be for various reasons such as:
  • The assessor not being made aware how complex the persons disability actually is and taking everything at face value
  • Not submitting the right supporting documents at the beginning of the assessment.
  • People not trained to support someone through an assessment, how many people are supported but actually the person can make matters worse with their comments

There are lots of factors to take into account when appealing a decision and supporting information is high on that list. Having competent staff to support the process, which thankfully during the appeal on this occasion the customer had a great support team that pulled together information required through advice given by H&SA.

This recent challenge was supported by H&SA and proved to be a success and demonstrates that seeking professional advice can only increase your chances at appeal hearings.

The tribunal re-instated the original award of ESA on the basis of the previous facts and their new findings.

if you have a learning disability and need some help, please contact our advice service.