Thursday 21 October 2010

Some facts about ESA assessments

Here is a description, from someone who actually worked in ESA of what happens to claimants and how only 9% are considered disabled enough to get support.

"How are the Coalition going to take even more people off ESA/Incapacity Benefit?

For those who don’t know, Incapacity Benefit no longer exists for new claimants and hasn’t done since October 2009.
They now need to claim Employment Support Allowance, which is a whole new ball game.
I worked for two years in this field and so know a little bit about it.

When you first apply for ESA, you need to submit a medical certificate from your GP, as well as fill in a very detailed questionnaire about your illness/symptoms. You will be awarded a basic rate of JSA (£60 per week or thereabouts) for the first few weeks, upon which you will be called to an assessment with a doctor who works for the DWP (currently contracted to a company named Atos Origin). The Doctor will assess your SYMPTOMS (ie not to decide whether you are actually ill or not) and what – if any – impact they would have on your ability to work. You are awarded points for every aspect of your condition/symptoms which limits your ability to work.

At this point around 40% of applicants are told that they have no accrued enough “points” to claim ESA and their claim stops, ie they get no more money. They have to claim JSA and look for work like any other unemployed person.

The remainder, whose symptoms are more severe, will either be placed into the “Work Related Activity Group” which means that they receive a lower amount of ESA, but at the same time are expected to look for work which the DWP doctor feels they COULD do (ie bad back = you can’t do manual work but could do office work) with the help of a personal advisor at the Jobcentre. The most severely affected will be placed in the Support Group.

Only around 9% of claimants are placed in the “Support Group” which means they get a higher rate of ESA and are not expected to look for work. These are usually people with the most severe disabilities.

I often see questions on here talking about how the new Government are going to tackle the “scroungers” with pretend “bad backs/depression” etc – but having explained that the system already works this way – with only a very few people allowed to claim higher rate ESA without looking for work, how exactly are they planning to cut this down even further? Its pretty impossible to blag your way onto ESA with a pretend “bad back” or depression, believe me!!!

The only way I can see they could do this is to stop Incapacity Benefit completely and put EVERYONE on ESA. Right now, those who’ve been claiming for a while will still be on Incapacity Benefit, with the old rules, which were slightly more lax. Putting everyone on ESA and making them all subject to the same assessments would cut down the number of claimants.

But as for ESA it honestly couldn’t be tightened up anymore than it has been. There are already thousands of people struggling with quite severe and debilitating conditions who’ve been declared “fit for work” by the DWP

The following article shows just how many people considered themselves wrongly assessed for ESA and appealed.


  1. Hi Sue...I read both articles, and to be honest, was quite surprised at how fair the system seems to be, the people running it are obviously having a few problems but overall it seems okay. If we can free up resources to improve service to people with real problems then great. I commented on UKPR that valuable resources were wasted on selfish people, vexacious litigation, false claims, anti-social behaviour, etc., etc., these are the areas that need attention, if we can reclaim those wasted revenues, we can improve services to you, and any other people entitled to proper support from society. As a Tory, I am in favour of a small State, but of course I want members of society with illness or disability to share in the good fortune of the mainstream, my personal view is that over the last few years more and more people have jumped onto the State bandwagon and it's time we chucked 'em off. I don't care what happens to them to be honest, but I do care about people in real need.
    I had the back and slap plaster removed from my leg today, I've now got a sort of high tech boot.....very fetching. :-)

  2. Hi Sue
    I'm a refugee from UK Polling Report, which placed me on pre-moderation after the election after I started being rude about the comments "policy" and inconsistency in the application thereof.

    This is just to say good luck with it, and looking forward hopefully to contributing in future - it's good to see you attracting traffic from all sides

    All the best

    John (Johntt as was before exile!)

  3. There is one aspect missing from Ken's contribution, and that is what must be done for the innocent relatives of scroungers. the aged parents and the children.

    Always willing to learn.

  4. They are not seen as Scroungers lets get that right do not even joke about it, the appeal which is in place to make sure the system is not leaning to the government to much is so far passing 80% of the people who fail as unfit to work.

    But I think we must put this right, people who want to go onto ESA have two medicals to go through, but we always have, OK the new medical is a bit more of a burden.

    But the first medical is not really a medical it's called a PCA a Patients Capability assessment it's been around for a long time.

    It's assessment can be done by non medical people, it will ask can you walk if you say nope I cannot walk you will get 15 points once you get 15 points your deemed disabled. It has a range of questions, I cannot walk more then 50Mtries without being in extreme pain so I get 15 points, I also get 15 for my bowel problems and 15 points for my bladder problems. since you only need 15 most people will answer and get the 15 points, the problem comes for people who have stress related illness or mental health.

    Then you have the so called back to work medical, this is the one thats causing the nightmare, because lets be honest if you had an employer who was willing to put in place help, I do not believe anyone cannot work except those who are near to death, I could work at something, do not ask me what, because my education is poor, I have serious problem with memory and I have serious problems with my temper when the pain is bad, but I could work.

    But lets be honest anyone know employers who are willing to employ me plus a carer plus give me time to lay down during the day once I have my morphine injection, if you do let me know.

    The one good thing is the appeal process, but I'm told 10% of people who are deemed fit to work, one lady decided not to go to appeal because the broken leg she had twenty years ago is now better, but for those that do appeal 80% are deemed unfit to work, I'm told 10% are going to go back through the medical in three months time because the GP has said they cannot work.

    But I've been seeking work for ten years now, I've filled in 980 job applications and I've had three replies all negative. so is this about getting people onto lower benefits oh yes.

    1. Hi, yes it IS only about getting people onto a lower benefit. I have several medical problems, some dating back to 1969, but I was working up until November 2006 when I was made redundant. I have applied for numerous jobs but have only had two replies (both negative)and as I have had 4 operations in that time and would need either to work on the ground floor or have access to a lift, who can blame them? Oh yes, forgot to mention, I am now 60years old. I have just had notification of an impending ESA assessment. My joy knows no bounds-Job Seekers here I come!

      The thing is, that I don't have a problem with working but the logistics (as seen by the prospective employer) make it a non-starter. Come on, with millions of unemployed people available, why would they choose me?

    2. If you are 60 why are you not claiming pension credit instead? You do not need to claim ESA nor seek work as of 60 years old.

  5. Thanks for the comment Robert.
    I'm so sorry you've hit such a brick wall with your applications.
    This is one of the things that concerns me the most.
    If you have a disability but are found fit to work, who will employ us? Your story shows very well that employers will always choose the healthy candidate over the candidate with health issues.

  6. ESA test put a shocking amount of burden on ill and severely disabled people. Most information could be obtained from medical records before they decide it's necessary to drag people into medicals.
    I have HIV/HEP C given to me from the NHS. Severe haemophilia a( achronic bleeding disorder, chronic joint problems. Do I really need to be assessed? Crazy waste of money.

  7. ive just had to cancel my medical and re arrange it for another date as i am 38 weeks pregnant and have been suffering from high blood pressure so have been advised by my midwife and doctor to reschedule for after the baby is born on march 7th as i may be having a c-section. when i called up atos healthcare they allowed me to do this but gave me an appointment for the 9th march, i mean really??? Im afraid if i have a c-section (which at the moment is looking odds on) i am not going to be able to go again, and they will stop my benefit. when i spoke to the "nice" gentleman from atos healthcare he basically said its not his problem and that this was all he could do!! I now have been in contact with citiczens advice and am waiting for a call back to see if they can do anything for me. The way these people speak to you from atos is absolutely appauling i must say.

  8. you couldn't advise me whether wed be entitled too any financial help..... my son has hypotonia and hypermobility and developmental coordination difficulties, and we normall manage ok but he was ran over b someone on a bike and broke two bones in his leg, he is in full plaster to groin area and is very dependent. physio says hell not be back to normal for months and months, could i cllaim carers allowance or anything with it being temporary thanks

  9. Hello all,

    I am writing my dissertation on ATOS and the problems encountered, if anyone would allow me to speak to them regarding this issue please email me at

    Looking forward to speaking to you.

    - Katie

  10. the government take millions of pounds from people banks rule the world by giving out loans people cant afford and just printing more money out and your moning about amere 60 pounds lol