Archive for the ‘ benefits ’ Category

PIP Application Advice

I know a lot of folks that are either apply for, reapplying for and being transferred on to PIP. Heck, I’m soon going to be in the latter category. A question that often comes up is “How best can I apply?”, or “What should I write?”. Here’s my advice and I hope you find at least some of it useful.

Once you have you PIP form the best way is obviously to contact your local CAB and see if they can help you. They’ve done millions of these and know it inside and out.

Unfortunately the CAB isn’t always an option for many of us. Then we need to find ways to do it alone. In these situations I think it’s important to try to put yourself in the position of a DWP decision maker;

  • they are under pressure not to find too many eligible
  • they have to read a lot of these in a day
  • they are probably tired, stressed, and a bit numb to these applications
  • they’ve probably seen it all before

It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. If you can make it easy for them to give you points then hopefully they will

There is a simple formula I use to do these and it is as follows;

Firstly…

Look at the tables that show you what the criteria is for each section. You can find them in a handy table in this PDF from the Citizens Advice Bureau by clicking here. Or I will provide a list of the current points at the bottom of this post for those that would prefer it.

Once you have read those, look again at the wording and consider the following:

Does it apply to you?

Continue reading

DWP announces reconsideration of eligibility criteria for PIP

The We Are Spartacus network have released a press release about the announcement that the government will re-consult on the mobility criteria. If you’d like to share it or simply read it then it’s here:

Disability campaigners welcome today’s announcement that the Government will re-consult on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, which replaces Disability Living Allowance for working age disabled adults. Organisations and individuals have been campaigning vigorously on this issue since we were shocked to hear, in December last year, that the walking distance criteria for the mobility component, and therefore for assistance from the Motability scheme, had been tightened from 50 metres to 20 metres.

A disabled man, Steven Sumpter, issued  legal proceedings in March arguing that the consultation process on the new benefit was flawed because the Secretary of State did not consult on the proposal to introduce the new benchmark distance of 20 metres. This was only introduced after all the consultation stages had passed. Consultees were therefore denied the opportunity to comment on the proposal or to explain to the Secretary of State how such a restriction to the benefit will affect them and their independence.

For many years the distance of 50 metres has been accepted as an appropriate distance criteria to determine limited walking ability – including for eligibility for the blue badge, for guidance to achieve an accessible built environment, in relation to other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance and, through legal precedent and practice, for determining whether a claimant is ‘virtually unable to walk’ for the purposes of Disability Living Allowance.

Jane Young, an independent campaigner working with the We are Spartacus network, says:

“We are relieved that the DWP is to reconsider. Our concern in relation to the 20-metre distance is that disabled people with limited walking ability, who are dependent on their Motability car or other independent mobility solution funded by their allowance, would lose their eligibility and be unable to make essential journeys – to work, to visit their GP, to hospital appointments or to social activities. We fear many would effectively become isolated in their own homes, with all the implications of that for their mental and physical health.”

Whilst the Government’s announcement is extremely positive, we remain cautious. We need to make sure that the views of disabled people and their organisations are taken seriously and that the ultimate decision focuses on meeting the needs of disabled people rather than being narrowly focused on cutting the cost of the benefit. The ability of disabled people to participate in society depends on support for independent mobility; this should be the focus of this fresh consultation.

Draft PIP Regulations Pass Through The Legislation Committee

Today the draft PIP regulations had a final reading which needed to be voted through by the “Eleventh Delegated Legislation Committee”. They were voted through by a fairly close margin of 10 for, 7 against.

I’ve made a storify of my live tweets for those who are interested, sorry if some are a bit harsh or don’t make too much sense I was having to type fast to keep up with the speed they were speaking at and I’m a) not a fan of PIP and b) dyslexic.
[View the story “PIP Regulations – My Live Tweets” on Storify]

Updated PIP Assessment Guide

The government have provided another update to the PIP Assessment Guide. It’s still not the final version, but it’s the best we have to work with so far.

Before I go any further, this guide isn’t legislation. It’s not the law but it is the guidance ATOS/Captia (depending on where you live), the DWP and Tribunal Judges should be working from when making decisions.
The two area’s of particular concern many of us campaigners raised in response to Decembers release of PIP criteria were; the loss of reliably, repeatedly  safely and in a timely manner from the legislation and the reduction of the distance people need to be able to physically mobilise to automatically get the enhanced level of PIP from 50m to a puny 20m. Naturally I would like to see the former put into legislation for added protection and the latter decision reversed. As that hasn’t happened (yet) I think it’s important to look at how the guidelines will/won’t protect us if we are unfortunate and do not manage to get those changes made.
These two areas are covered in section 3.3.Reliability.
The document says;

“3.2.7. For a descriptor to be able to apply to a claimant, the claimant must be able to reliably complete the activity as described in the descriptor. More information on this can be found in section 3.3.”

Then goes on to say;

“3.3.1.Central to the application of all the activities within the PIP assessment is a consideration of the manner in which they are undertaken. If an individual cannot reliably complete an activity in the way described then they should be considered unable to complete it.
3.3.2. Considering reliability involves looking at whether the claimant can complete the activity as described:
• Safely – being able to complete the activity in a fashion that is unlikely to cause harm to themselves or to another person.
• To an acceptable standard, given the nature of the activity.
• Repeatedly – being able to repeat the activity as often as is reasonably required.
• In a timely manner – being able to complete the activity in a reasonable time period.”

Which is fairly reassuring, it means that the assessors shouldn’t apply a descriptor unless it meets the reliably, repeatedly, safely & in a timely manner conditions. You can read up on example of those in the guide (Section 3.3, page 72). Of course those with fluctuating conditions have been pretty confused about how these four descriptors should be them. That is covered by the guidance too, it says;

“3.2.9. A scoring descriptor can apply to claimants in an activity where their impairment(s) affects their ability to complete an activity, at some stage of the day, on more than 50 per cent of days in the 12 month period. The following rules apply:
• If one descriptor in an activity is likely to apply on more than 50 per cent of the days in the 12 month period – i.e. the activity can be completed in the way described on more than 50 per cent of days – then that descriptor should be chosen.
• If two or more descriptors in an activity is likely to apply on more than 50 per cent of the days in the period, then the descriptor chosen should be the one which is the highest scoring.
• Where one single descriptor in an activity is likely to not be satisfied on more than 50 per cent of days, but a number of different scoring descriptors in that activity cumulatively are likely to be satisfied on more than 50 per cent of days, the descriptor likely to be satisfied for the highest proportion of the time should be selected. For example, if descriptor ‘B’ is likely to be satisfied on 40 per cent of days and descriptor ‘C’ on 30 per cent of days, descriptor ‘B’ should be chosen. Where two or more descriptors are satisfied for the same proportion of days, the descriptor which is the highest scoring should be chosen. ”  

Taking this as it stands it means that theoretically the DWP, Atos & Captia should have a hard time excluding people who should be covered by this umbrella. Of course they’d have a harder time if those words were in the actual legislation.

It’s not a win, but I feel it’s quite positive. The guidance isn’t overly vague which will make it harder for them to find loop holes. I do think it’s quite harsh in some areas, take this example;

“Mr X is able to stand and move unaided. He can comfortably walk up to 150 metres at a normal pace. After 150 metres he starts to become breathless and to experience some mild pain. He can continue to walk but his pace slows. The pain and breathlessness gradually increases and after 250 metres he needs to stop and rest for about 5 minutes before starting to walk again. Mr X can repeatedly walk 250 metres, with short 5-minute rests in between for around an hour. After an hour of this, he needs a longer rest of about an hour before walking again. It takes Mr X around four minutes to walk 200 metres.”

It then explains that Mr X would be judged as being able to mobilise safley, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner. I think that underestimates how short that kind of distance is and how hard it can be to find somewhere to rest. It also doesn’t look at the psychological implications of having to walk until you are in agony then stop, rest and do it all again. Though I suppose that would be covered by activity 11, planning & following journeys.

“The second area of concern is activity 12, moving around. The guidance has the following notes added to it; 

This activity should be judged in relation to a type of surface normally expected out of doors such as pavements on the flat and includes the consideration of kerbs. 

20 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence in the home.
50 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence outdoors.
50 to 200 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to repeatedly walk in order to achieve a higher level of independence outdoors. 

Standing means to stand upright with at least one biological foot on the ground with or without suitable aids and appliances (note – a prosthesis is considered an appliance so a claimant with a unilateral prosthetic leg may be able to stand whereas a bilateral lower limb amputee would be unable to stand under this definition). 

“Stand and then move” requires an individual to stand and then move independently while remaining standing. It does not include a claimant who stands and then transfers into a wheelchair or similar device. Individuals who require a wheelchair or similar device to move a distance should not be considered able to stand and move that distance.  

Aids or appliances that a person uses to support their physical mobility may include walking sticks, crutches and prostheses.

When assessing whether the activity can be carried out reliably, consideration should be given to the manner in which they do so. This includes but is not limited to, their gait, their speed, the risk of falls and symptoms or side effects that could affect their ability to complete the activity, such as pain, breathlessness and fatigue.  

However, for this activity this only refers to the physical act of moving. For example, danger awareness is considered as part of activity 11.”

The descriptors have been altered as well, they now read;

A. Can stand and then move more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 0pts
B. Can stand and then move more than 50 metres but no more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 4pts
C. Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 8pts
D. Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 10pts
For example, this would include people who can stand and move more than 20 metres but no further than 50 metres, but need to use an aid or appliance such as a stick or crutch to do so. [Not including wheelchairs]E. Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided. 12pts
F. Cannot, either aided or unaided, i. stand; or ii. move more than 1 metre. 12pts

This is a slight improvement, in that we now know that wheelchair users who need a chair to mobilise 20m or more are protected. Still, it’s far less than ideal. It would be far better if the distance was raised from 20m to 50m.

There has been a huge tide of negative news around the PIP changes recently, which whilst fully deserved, is also very upsetting when it’s all you hear & read day in and day out. I think we should take what positives we can from this. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t keep campaigning to get the changes made that we want to see, but that we should all take a few seconds to pat ourselves on the back before plugging onwards. These changes would not have been made without the tireless campaigning and awareness raising work hundreds of disabled people across the country.

If you want to keep fighting these changes you can have a look at the We Are Spartacus campaign group website for ideas and to keep up-to-date with developments.

Imaginary Wheelchairs & Other ESA Changes

As you may or may not know on the 28th January they are making some more changes to ESA assessments. Both of the proposed changes are dangerous and counter productive (unless you want to produce a super-flawed, biased and unfair system). They go a little something like this;

Imaginary Aids, Adaptations & Treatments

In a nutshell, they will be changing the system so that if a person could do something with appropriate aids/adaptations or has a condition that sometimes benefits from a specific treatment (even if they don’t have access to them) they can be judged as if they do. They also do not have to ask your opinion about it.

An example would be; a person who attends a meeting and explains that because of a condition, let’s choose chronic pain, they cannot walk 50m. The assessor decides that they think that with a wheelchair they could do it. The assessor then says nothing to the claimant and notes it on the assessment form. The person is then found fit for work or placed in the WRAG rather than the support group on the basis of an imaginary wheelchair. Of course, they don’t then give the person access to a wheelchair. They just seem to expect them to magic one out of thin air. Bitter experience has taught me that the NHS doesn’t give wheelchairs to a lot of people who would benefit from them. It’s also taught me that getting a NHS wheelchair doesn’t mean you can use it. If your home is at the bottom of a hill, has steps in and out, doesn’t have wide enough halls or door ways or any other number of issues are at play the chair is just a (often) ugly reminder that you can’t get out. Getting your home adapted for a wheelchair is very difficult at the best of times, heaven forbid you privately rent and your landlord doesn’t want you to ramp the front garden. All this doesn’t take into account our imaginary claimants ability to propel a wheelchair either. It would be laughable if it wasn’t a real threat.

The same goes for treatments. Did you turn down CBT for Fibromyalgia? If they think it would have made it better then they can “imagine” how you may have been if you’d had it and assess you accordingly.

Ignoring the Intersections Between Physical & Mental Health

The ESA50 (the pink form claimants get sent asking them to detail their conditions) is split into two sections; Part 1 (‘Physical Disabilities’) and Part 2 (‘Mental, cognitive and intellectual function assessment’). At the moment people who experience problems such as poor bladder control because of a mental or cognitive disability will explain that in part 1. Now they are proposing to make it so that only the effects of “a specific bodily disease or disablement” will be considered in part 1, whilst Part 2 will only consider the effects of “a specific mental illness or disablement”.

This is a massive issue as many conditions have both mental/cognitive and physical components. It’s also problematic because many physical health problems exacerbate mental health conditions and vice-a-versa. 

How to help


Sue Marsh over at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger has issued a rallying cry and offers some great advice about what you can do to help fight these changes (link to her post). 

You can email your MP by going to this webpage and searching for them by your constituency and send them a link to this report. If you don’t want to email them then you can tweet them with a link to the report saying something like “Dear [MP name] please read this report about damaging changes to ESA http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/ESAbriefing  #esaSOS”.

You can try to spread the word by tweeting, emailing & facebooking others (friends, family, reporters, councillors , and asking them to spread the report too.

WOW Petition Launch

Today at 8pm the fabulous comedienne, writer and vocal supporter of the disability rights movement Francesca Martinez launched the crowd sourced WOW Petition designed to help resist the ‘War On Welfare’. It is a UK government e-petition which ideally needs to get over 100,000 signatures. It’s going to need publicising and shouting about but I’m sure as a community we can do it. Heck, it’s been live for two and a half hours and it’s already been trending on twitter and received over 1,400 signatures!

It calls for: 

A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.
An immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment, as voted for by the British Medical Association.
 

Consultation between the Depts of Health & Education to improve support into work for sick & disabled people, and an end to forced work under threat of sanctions for people on disability benefits.

An Independent, Committee-Based Inquiry into Welfare Reform, covering but not limited to: (1) Care home admission rises, daycare centres, access to education for people with learning difficulties, universal mental health treatments, Remploy closures; (2) DWP media links, the ATOS contract, IT implementation of Universal Credit; (3) Human rights abuses against disabled people, excess claimant deaths & the disregard of medical evidence in decision making by ATOS, DWP & the Tribunal Service.

If you want to sign it click here. Once you have signed it then you will need to remember to check your inbox and click the confirmation email to make it count.

New Report Highlights Failures of Work Capability Assessment

The Spartacus Campaign group has today released the Peoples Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).

The press release sums it all up pretty nice nicley;

New report highlights failures of Work Capability Assessment as Spartacus campaign awaits Harrington’s final review

A new report from the Spartacus campaign today (Monday 12 November) analyses the failures of the Government’s Work Capability Assessment and the Employment & Support Allowance system, which is supposed to support people who are too sick or disabled to work.

It also warns that disabled people are at risk because of the government’s refusal to consider a ‘real world’ test – where part of the test would take into account the real barriers to employment.

The report, ‘The People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment’, includes examples of people who have been told they are fit for work, including:

Someone with no short term memory mechanism
A man with a terminal brain tumour
An incontinent disabled man who is both blind and deaf

Other examples of claimants’ experiences include a man whose benefits were stopped for failing to return the necessary forms, despite his wife informing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that he was in a coma; and a man who died 48 hours after filling in his questionnaire – after informing everyone of his death his wife received a call 3 months later asking him to come in for his assessment.

Overall the report highlights stories of more than 70 people who have been inappropriately  assessed, forced to go to tribunal, felt humiliated or treated inappropriately. It comes prior to the publication of the final review of the Work Capability Assessment by Professor Harrington, who steps down as advisor to the DWP this month, and whose resignation was announced in July, just days after the broadcast of two TV documentaries exposing the reality of claimants’ experience of the assessment process.

The report also highlights serious concerns about the number of people who have died after being told by the DWP they were ‘fit for work’ or have taken their own lives in circumstances where applying for ESA and going through the WCA appear to be factors in their deaths.

Professor Peter Beresford OBE, professor of social policy at Brunel University and chair of Shaping Our Lives, said:

“The work capability assessment is unreliable and unhelpful, as well as being arbitrary and cruel… No-one – not the doctors who make the assessment decisions, nor Atos which has responsibility for providing assessments, nor the Department of Work and Pensions which commissioned them – takes responsibility for the problems and failures in the system. It’s a perfect storm of irresponsibility and unaccountability.”

The report includes an analysis of the position of a number of professional and regulatory organisations on the WCA, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the General Medical Council, the National Audit Office and the Citizens Advice Bureau, as well as Government statements and background information on Atos, the company  employed to carry out the assessments.

The report’s author added:

These issues are a matter of survival for people living with illness and disability.  It is unacceptable that in 21st century Britain vulnerable people are being treated so appallingly. We hope The People’s Review will spur the Government into prompt and concrete action on the failures of the WCA. Radical change is needed – and it is needed now. Whilst there has been some acknowledgement of the problems following Professor Harrington‘s previous Reviews, our evidence from those at the sharp end of the process, including of the high rate of successful appeals and the huge backlog of unheard appeals, shows the whole system is still failing badly. The cost to the taxpayer is enormous and the cost to those going through it goes way beyond money.  In the meantime, sick and disabled people continue to be severely affected by what they’ve experienced, and terrified of what the future holds.  

The new report is available from:    http://wearespartacus.org.uk  

For more information contact:         Jane Young  jane@janeyoung.me.uk

The full report lists 14 pages of (often) single paragraph case studies of people who have been failed by the WCA, yet it is just the tip of a gargantuan iceberg. Like all the people here and the thousands of others who’s stories are not in the report I was given 0 points by ATOS and declared fit for work. The DWP then used my poor score on the WCA as it’s key reason to refuse to give me DLA. I spent the first two terrifying years of becoming disabled desperately appealing and going through tribunals with no financial support in the mean time. Here are four statements taken from a page at random in the new report which illustrate how this system has failed and upset other sick and/or disabled people who are clearly not fit to work (quotes come directly from the report & are written in their own words);

  • Detached labrum of the right shoulder(2 ops done so far), degenerative vertabrae in my neck with stenosis (shrinking of the outlet which the nerves to my left arm go thru) reducing sensation and strength, nerve damage to the right shoulder affecting the interior of my right arm, severe depression onset due to injuries and personal circumstances, and 3 types of drugs to keep things in order….their opinion…Nil Points and fit for work.
  • I went to one of these tests and had my benefits stopped plus they sent a letter to my doctors telling him to stop signing me off, i could’ve appealed but would’ve had to travel for 4 hours to get to the court! I felt so bad and had to get some work to survive but this then led to me having a heart attack! I have had to have a pacemaker fitted. They said is was deemed fit to work because in the test i sat on a table and all i did was swing my legs forward and back!!!!! Plus asked to bend over!
  • I suffer with borderline personality dissorder anxiety and depression plus i faint sometimes or have black outs. I am being forced back into work and to go to work meetings. I have been threatend with loosing my home, so i ended up self harming and now being threatend with loosing my benefits. If I don’t get my benifits nothing will get paid, and i’ll either end up topping myself or dying of starvation. I am now terrified, i am not ready to go back to work, and if they force me into work i have no idea how i will react. 1 mintue i can be fine next i feel like the anticrist. I can’t control my personality dissorder, mental illness does not have days off.
  • I have multiple health problems – some of which have taken years to diagnose eg, PTSD, diabetes, chronic fatigue, severe allergies causing angioedema and anaphylactic shock, asthma, gastritis, muscle weakness. I’ve just undergone TWO hysteroscopies and the biopsy has revealed a problem. We’ve discussed hysterectomy so I’m guessing the diagnosis won’t be a good one. I can’t climb stairs and I haven’t been out socially for two decades. My last job was as a temp for the NHS and I was dismissed from my job because I became ill at work and had to be hospitalised with pneumonia. They have now deemed me fir for work despite GP and Consultant’s notes which state the opposite.

If you get a chance have a look at the report, it really is worth a read. You can find a copy at the We are Spartacus webpage or this link should take you to a pdf file.

If you can please try and share this report with local MPs, councillors, journalists and groups that wish to ally themselves with the disabled peoples rights movement.

If you want to write to your MP you can find them on this website; http://www.writetothem.com/

I used this letter, you’d be welcome to do the same and edit it to make it more personal.

Dear [insert MPs name],

Today see’s the release of a report put together by disabled people and their allies to try and show the harsh realities of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) preformed by ATOS healthcare on behalf of the DWP to judge whether those claiming ESA are in actuality fit to work. It is so riddled with errors that all independent reviews say it isn’t fit for purpose (unless that purpose is finding severely sick & disabled people incorrectly fit for work of course).

You can find the report here; http://wearespartacus.org.uk/wca-peoples-review/ and I will paste the press release at the bottom of this email to give you a quick synopsis.

[Insert personal experience/story here if you feel comfortable doing so]

Warm Regards,

[Your name here]

—–

Press Release

[Copy & Paste Press Release here]

On ESA? You Maybe Entitled To These Schemes

It’s getting cold, Christmas is on it’s way and it feels like my income isn’t covering very much at all right now, but I have noticed a few money saving schemes available to those on ESA/low incomes over the last week so I thought I’d share them in case they can help someone else.

Stamps
Royal Mail has rolled out a scheme to allow people in receipt of ESA, Pension Credit or Incapacity Benefit to buy up to 36 stamps at last Christmas’ prices. So 36 1st class stamps will cost about £5 less. It’s not going to revolutionise Christmas but it can make any stamp purchases cheaper. The offer expires on Christmas eve. If you’ve not had a form you can order one at www.royalmail.com/stampoffer 
Warm Home Discount


The warm home discount is a £130 rebate on your electricity bill open to everyone in receipt of Pension Credit. Some energy companies have decided to offer the discount to people who have low incomes and/or are disabled. Commonly they ask for applicants to be in receipt of Income Based ESA, Income Based JSA and Income Support as well.
I know EDF, British Gas, E.on, Scottish Power and NPower  are offering the option to low income and/or customers. If you click on the names it should take you to the pages detailing eligibly criteria & how to claim.

Edited to add: A customer (@GubbinsMctavish on twitter) of Atlantic Energy chased them up and they have confirmed that if customers of Atlantic Energy or any other SSE companies call their general enquiries line they can send out application forms.

Opposition Day Disability Debate

Cartoon image entitled ‘The Great Disability Debate In Brief’. Shows a practically empty house of commons with two figures from opposite sides of the house shouting “This is your fault” whilst lone voices say “Remploy!”, “Is it lunchtime yet?” and “The disabled… are those the poor ones?”. You can click the image to enlarge.

The wonderful DrHackenbush produced this cartoon which fully sums up yesterdays Opposition debate on the following motion (emphasis mine);

That this House believes that cuts to support for disabled people and carers poses a potential  risk to their dignity and independence and will have wider social and economic costs; regrets that the Department for Work and Pensions has dropped the aim of achieving disability equality; whilst recognising that Disability Living Allowance (DLA) needs to be reformed, expresses concern that taking DLA from 500,000 disabled people and contributory Employment Support Allowance from 280,000 former workers will take vital financial support from families under pressure; expresses further concern at the Work Programme’s failure to help disabled people and the mismanaged closure of Remploy factories; notes the pressing need for continuing reform to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) to reduce the human cost of wrong decisions; agrees with the eight Carers’ Week charities on the importance of recognising the huge contribution made by the UK’s 6.4 million carers and the need to support carers to prevent caring responsibilities pushing them into ill-health, poverty and isolation; and calls on the Government to ensure reform promotes work, independence, quality of life and opportunities for disabled people and their families, restore the commitment to disability equality in the Department for Work and Pensions’ business plan, conduct a full impact assessment of the combined effect of benefit and social care cuts on disabled people and carers, reform the WCA descriptors as suggested by charities for mental health, fluctuating conditions and sensory impairment and re-run the consultation of the future of Remploy factories.

The end result was Aye’s 236 (in favour of the motion) No’s 298 (against the motion). The No’s won. Of course the ConDems voted againsteven though many argued that the WCA was broken (and blamed labour) and that the cuts faced by disabled people (blamed labour) were hurting constituents – a nice bit of hypocrisy there. 


It showed the true nature of the House of Commons in stark reality. These debates are not about helping people or trying to make the world better but about point scoring. Team blue & yellow stopping team red getting a goal. Simple as that. 


Sue Marsh wrote a decent explanation of events (if you’d like to read some more click here). Personally I can’t be bothered to dissect a debate that the politicians attending & voting on didn’t treat with seriously any more than already have I have.

ESA Descriptors And Points

I find knowing what the criteria the DWP is judging “fitness to work” by can be really helpful when filling in an ESA50 form (titled Limited Capability for Work Questionnare). I thought I’d post up the descriptors and the points for easy reference. You can see the details here. The assessment changed slightly in 2013 so new additions have been marked with a *.

To qualify for ESA you must get 15 points or more in total from the following 17 descriptors. You will automatically go into the work related activity group (WRAG) if you do. To be moved into the support group you need to meet at least one of a slightly different criteria which I have posted afterwards. I hope this helps.

Descriptors and scores for each physical activity 

1. Mobilising unaided by another person with or without a walking stick, manual wheelchair or other aid if such aid can reasonably be used.

(a) Cannot either:
  (i) mobilise more than 50 metres on level ground without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion;
or
  (ii) repeatedly mobilise 50 metres within a reasonable timescale because of significant discomfort or exhaustion.

15 points

(b) Cannot mount or descend two steps unaided by another person even with the support of a handrail.

9 points

(c) Cannot either:
  (i) mobilise more than 100 metres on level ground without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion;
or
  (ii) repeatedly mobilise 100 metres within a reasonable timescale because of significant discomfort or exhaustion.

9 points

(d) Cannot either:
  (i) mobilise more than 200 metres on level ground without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion;
or
  (ii) repeatedly mobilise 200 metres within a reasonable timescale because of significant discomfort or exhaustion.

6 points

(e) None of the above apply

0 points


2. Standing and sitting.

(a) Cannot move between one seated position and another seated position located next to one another without receiving physical assistance from another person.

15 points

(b) Cannot, for the majority of the time, remain at a work station, either:
  (i) standing unassisted by another person (even if free to move around); or
  (ii) sitting (even in an adjustable chair) for more than 30 minutes, before needing to move away in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion.
 *(iii) a combination of (i) and (ii) for more than an hour, before needing to move away in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion.

9 points

(c) Cannot, for the majority of the time, remain at a work station, either:
  (i) standing unassisted by another person (even if free to move around); or
  (ii) sitting (even in an adjustable chair) for more than an hour before needing to move away in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion.

 *(iii) a combination of (i) and (ii) for more than an hour, before needing to move away in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply

0 points


3. Reaching.

(a) Cannot raise either arm as if to put something in the top pocket of a coat or jacket.

15 points

(b) Cannot raise either arm to top of head as if to put on a hat.

9 points

(c) Cannot raise either arm above head height as if to reach for something.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points


4. Picking up and moving or transferring by the use of the upper body and arms.

(a) Cannot pick up and move a 0.5 litre carton full of liquid.

15 points

(b) Cannot pick up and move a one litre carton full of liquid.

9 points

(c) Cannot transfer a light but bulky object such as an empty cardboard box.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

5. Manual dexterity.

(a) Cannot either:
  (i) press a button, such as a telephone keypad; or
  (ii) turn the pages of a book with either hand.

15 points

(b) Cannot pick up a £1 coin or equivalent with either hand.

15 points

(c) Cannot use a pen or pencil to make a meaningful mark.

9 points

(d) Cannot use a suitable keyboard or mouse.

9 points

(e) None of the above apply.

0 points

6. Making self understood through speaking, writing, typing, or other means normally used, unaided by another person.

(a) Cannot convey a simple message, such as the presence of a hazard.

15 points

(b) Has significant difficulty conveying a simple message to strangers.

15 points

(c) Has some difficulty conveying a simple message to strangers.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

7. Understanding communication by both verbal means (such as hearing or lip reading) and nonverbal means (such as reading 16 point print) using any aid it is reasonable to expect them to use, unaided by another person.

(a) Cannot understand a simple message due to sensory impairment, such as the location of a fire escape.

15 points

(b) Has significant difficulty understanding a simple message from a stranger due to sensory impairment.

15 points

(c) Has some difficulty understanding a simple message from a stranger due to sensory impairment.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

8. Navigation and maintaining safety, using a guide dog or other aid if normally used.

(a) Unable to navigate around familiar surroundings, without being accompanied by another person, due to sensory impairment.

15 points

(b) Cannot safely complete a potentially hazardous task such as crossing the road, without being accompanied by another person, due to sensory impairment.

15 points

(c) Unable to navigate around unfamiliar surroundings, without being accompanied by another person, due to sensory impairment.

9 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

9. Absence or loss of control leading to extensive evacuation of the bowel and/or bladder, other than enuresis (bed-wetting) despite the presence of any aids or adaptations normally used.

(a) At least once a month experiences:
  (i) loss of control leading to extensive evacuation of the bowel and/or voiding of the bladder; or
  (ii) substantial leakage of the contents of a collecting device sufficient to require cleaning and a change in clothing.

15 points

(b) At risk of loss of control leading to extensive evacuation of the bowel and/or voiding of the bladder, sufficient to require cleaning and a change in clothing, if not able to reach a toilet quickly.

6 points

(c) None of the above apply.

0 points

10. Consciousness during waking moments.

(a) At least once a week, has an involuntary episode of lost or altered consciousness resulting in significantly disrupted awareness or concentration.

15 points

(b) At least once a month, has an involuntary episode of lost or altered consciousness resulting in significantly disrupted awareness or concentration.

6 points

(c) None of the above apply.

0 points

Descriptors and scores for each mental, cognitive and intellectual function assessment

11. Learning tasks.

(a) Cannot learn how to complete a simple task, such as setting an alarm clock.

15 points

(b) Cannot learn anything beyond a simple task, such as setting an alarm clock.

9 points

(c) Cannot learn anything beyond a moderately complex task, such as the steps involved in operating a washing machine to clean clothes.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

12. Awareness of 15 everyday hazards (such as boiling water or sharp objects).

(a) Reduced awareness of everyday hazards leads to a significant risk of:
  (i) injury to self or others; or
  (ii) damage to property or possessions such that they require supervision for the majority of the time to maintain safety.

15 points

(b) Reduced awareness of everyday hazards leads to a significant risk of:
  (i) injury to self or others; or
  (ii) damage to property or possessions such that they frequently require supervision to maintain safety.

9 points

(c) Reduced awareness of everyday hazards leads to a significant risk of:
  (i) injury to self or others; or
  (ii) damage to property or possessions such that they occasionally require supervision to maintain safety.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

13. Initiating and completing personal action (which means planning, organisation, problem solving, prioritising or switching tasks).

(a) Cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 sequential personal actions.

15 points

(b) Cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions for the majority of the time.

9 points

(c) Frequently cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 personal actions.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply

0 points

14. Coping with change.

(a) Cannot cope with any change to the extent that day to day life cannot be managed.

15 points

(b) Cannot cope with minor planned change (such as a pre-arranged change to the routine time scheduled for a lunch break), to the extent that overall day to day life is made significantly more difficult.

9 points

(c) Cannot cope with minor unplanned change (such as the timing of an appointment on the day it is due to occur), to the extent that overall, day to day life is made significantly more difficult.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

15. Getting about.

(a) Cannot get to any specified place with which the claimant is familiar.

15 points

(b) Is unable to get to a specified place with which the claimant is familiar, without being accompanied by another person.

9 points

(c) Is unable to get to a specified place with which the claimant is unfamiliar without being accompanied by another person.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

16. Coping with social engagement due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.

(a) Engagement in social contact is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual.

15 points

(b) Engagement in social contact with someone unfamiliar to the claimant is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual.

9 points

(c) Engagement in social contact with someone unfamiliar to the claimant is not possible for the majority of the time due to difficulty relating to others or significant distress experienced by the individual.

6 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points

17. Appropriateness of behaviour with other people, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.

(a) Has, on a daily basis, uncontrollable episodes of aggressive or disinhibited behaviour that would be unreasonable in any workplace.

15 points

(b) Frequently has uncontrollable episodes of aggressive or disinhibited behaviour that would be unreasonable in any workplace.

15 points

(c) Occasionally has uncontrollable episodes of aggressive or disinhibited behaviour that would be unreasonable in any workplace.

9 points

(d) None of the above apply.

0 points
This next section shows what they are looking for in people they place in the support group. You need to meet at least one of these.

Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity Descriptors


 1. Mobilising unaided by another person with or without a walking stick, manual wheelchair or other aid if such aid can reasonably be used.
Cannot either:
(a) mobilise more than 50 metres on level ground without stopping in order to avoid significant discomfort or exhaustion; or
(b) repeatedly mobilise 50 metres within a reasonable timescale because of significant discomfort or exhaustion.

2.Transferring from one seated position to another.
Cannot move between one seated position and another seated position located next to one another without receiving physical assistance from another person.

3. Reaching.

Cannot raise either arm as if to put something in the top pocket of a coat or jacket.

4. Picking up and moving or transferring by the use of the upper body and arms (excluding standing, sitting, bending or kneeling and all other activities specified in this Schedule).
Cannot pick up and move a 0.5 litre carton full of liquid.

5. Manual dexterity.
Cannot either:
(a) press a button, such as a telephone keypad; or
(b) turn the pages of a book with either hand.

6. Making self understood through speaking, writing, typing, or other means normally used.
Cannot convey a simple message, such as the presence of a hazard.

7. Understanding communication by hearing, lip reading, reading 16 point print or using any aid if reasonably used.
Cannot understand a simple message due to sensory impairment, such as the location of a fire escape.

8. Absence or loss of control over extensive evacuation of the bowel and/or voiding of the bladder, other than enuresis (bed-wetting), despite the presence of any aids or adaptations normally used.
At least once a week experiences:
(a) loss of control leading to extensive evacuation of the bowel and/or voiding of the bladder; or
(b) substantial leakage of the contents of a collecting device sufficient to require the individual to clean themselves and change clothing.

9. Learning tasks.
Cannot learn how to complete a simple task, such as setting an alarm clock, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.

10. Awareness of hazard.
Reduced awareness of everyday hazards, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder, leads to a significant risk of:
(a) injury to self or others; or
(b) damage to property or possessions such that they require supervision for the majority of the time to maintain safety.

11. Initiating and completing personal action (which means planning, organisation, problem solving, prioritising or switching tasks).
Cannot, due to impaired mental function, reliably initiate or complete at least 2 sequential personal actions.

12. Coping with change.
Cannot cope with any change, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder, to the extent that day to day life cannot be managed.

13. Coping with social engagement, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.
Engagement in social contact is always precluded due to difficulty relating to others or
significant distress experienced by the individual.

14. Appropriateness of behaviour with other people, due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder.
Has, on a daily basis, uncontrollable episodes of aggressive or disinhibited behaviour that would be unreasonable in any workplace.

15. Conveying food or drink to the mouth.
(a) Cannot convey food or drink to the claimant’s own mouth without receiving physical assistance from someone else;
(b) Cannot convey food or drink to the claimant’s own mouth without repeatedly stopping, experiencing breathlessness or severe discomfort;
(c) Cannot convey food or drink to the claimant’s own mouth without receiving regular prompting given by someone else in the claimant’s physical presence; or
(d) Owing to a severe disorder of mood or behaviour, fails to convey food or drink to the claimant’s own mouth without receiving:
(i) physical assistance from someone else; or
(ii) regular prompting given by someone else in the claimant’s presence.

16. Chewing or swallowing food or drink.
(a) Cannot chew or swallow food or drink;
(b) Cannot chew or swallow food or drink without repeatedly stopping, experiencing breathlessness or severe discomfort;
(c) Cannot chew or swallow food or drink without repeatedly receiving regular prompting given by someone else in the claimant’s presence; or
(d) Owing to a severe disorder of mood or behaviour, fails to:
(i) chew or swallow food or drink; or
(ii) chew or swallow food or drink without regular prompting given by someone else in the claimant’s presence. 

There are circumstances in which a claimant will be treated as having limited capability for work. Where possible, Jobcentre Plus will try to identify such claimants without the need for a medical assessment. Claimants would be treated as having limited capability for work in the following instances:

• terminally ill, defined as having a progressive health condition, as a result of which death can be reasonably expected within 6 months


• receiving treatment by way of intravenous, intraperitoneal or intrathecal chemotherapy or likely to receive such treatment within six months after the date of the determination of capability for work or


• recovering from that treatment and the Secretary of State is satisfied the claimant should be treated as having limited capability for work


• is excluded or abstains from work, or from work of such kind, pursuant to a request or notice in writing lawfully made under an enactment; or otherwise prevented from working pursuant to an enactment, by reason of the claimant being a carrier, or having been in contact with a case, of a relevant disease


• for a pregnant woman, there is a serious risk of damage to her health or to the health of her unborn child if she does do not refrain from work.


• for a pregnant woman, she is within the maternity allowance period; and is entitled to a maternity allowance under Section 35(1) of the Contributions and Benefits Act(81)


• a pregnant woman whose expected or actual date of confinement has been certified in accordance with the Social Security (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1976, on any day in the period –
i) beginning with the first date of the 6th week before the expected week of her confinement or the actual date of her confinement, whichever is the earlier; and
ii) ending on the 14th day after the actual date of her confinement if she would have no entitlement to a maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay were she to make a claim in respect of that period


• undergoing medical or other treatment as an inpatient in a hospital or similar institution, or which is a day of recovery from that treatment. The circumstances in which a person is to be regarded as undergoing treatment include where the person is attending a residential programme of rehabilitation for the treatment of drug or alcohol addiction.


• receiving regular weekly treatment by way of haemodialysis for chronic renal failure; treatment by way of plasmapheresis or by way of radiotherapy; or regular weekly treatment by way of total parenteral nutrition for gross impairment of enteric function, is to be treated as having limited capability for work during any week in which that claimant is engaged in that treatment or has a day of recovery from that treatment


• students in full time education or approved training who are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance.

• A claimant is suffering from a severe life threatening disease in relation to which –
i) there is medical evidence that the disease is uncontrollable, or uncontrolled, by a recognised therapeutic procedure, and
ii) in the case of a disease that is uncontrolled, there is a reasonable cause for it not to be controlled by a recognised therapeutic procedure


• suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work-related activity.

%d bloggers like this: