Trapped on benefits

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I'm a single mum of 4 eldest is 21 youngest 12 I have been divorced twice both marriages were abusive had to get injunctions against both men,ive suffered with depression for 15 years I have been of antidepressants for 2 years now ,we live in private rented accommodation and have moved 6 times I have been on the housing register for 13 years ,I also have halux rigidus which some days can be very painful .The house we live in now is paid by the council they chose the house for me I have been living here for 3 years and have just signed a contract for another 3 years .My depression is starting to come back I can't see a way out I also receive discretionary housing benefit due to my ESA ,that's if I am still entitled , waiting for medical results from Attos ,I want to go to work start of part time my housing officer said if i work I will loose my discretionary housing benefit and I won't be able to afford my rent I feel so trapped .I hate the way my life is I get no financial or any support from the kids farthers ,I don't want to move house again the kids are settled and the neighbours around us are nice ,I'm so worried about were my life is heading I feel like I'm drowning 😣

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Maria, it's seems you are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea!

    I would suggest that you wait for your ESA result!

    If they put you in the support group, you can legally work part time, and keep your benefit and housing benefit for 12 months, after that you can continue to work, however your employer has to sign a document saying you are supported at work to continue your job role. You can earn up to £90 per week I think! If I heck on the government website it tells you all about supported work when claiming benefits. This might be the way out to meet new friends and people at work and build up your confidence that you feel you are making a difference!

    Have you thought of applying for PIP? This benefit isn't means tested. Citizen advice bureaux can help you with this!

    Good luck don't give in as your children need you. Take care.

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  • Posted

    Hi Maria

    My understanding of discretionary housing payments criteria is you either need to be in receipt of housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

    Many people in work claim Housing Benefit so in theory they would also be entitled to apply for DHP as you would if you got a job. That said DHP's can suddenly stop simply because the central fund held by the local authority has run out of cash. It is a very fragile benefit and cannot be relied on and thus causes serious insecurity.

    With regard to your health it is possible that your depression is something much more serious such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to your history with abusive relationships. You need to talk to your GP about this and get an urgent referral.

    As mentioned there could be a possibility of claiming Personal Independence Payments. Whilst PIP is not supposed to be a way of boosting income, it can help to cover the extra cost to you of your disability.

    I checked your condition Hallux rigidus on the DLA A-Z guide to conditions and it is listed although it refers the decision maker to health service provider, which I assume is ATOS.

    You could also qualify because of your mental health and how it affects you. If you Google PIP descriptors you can match your symptoms to those listed and get a rough idea if you may qualify.

    CAB are good to talk to about benefits etc. but I would urge you to see Women’s Aid. They specialise in helping victims of domestic violence and frankly they are a hundred times better than the CAB in helping women like yourself get out of the rut you seem to be in.

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    • Posted

      You could also qualify because of your mental health and how it affects you. If you Google PIP descriptors you can match your symptoms to those listed and get a rough idea if you may qualify.

      Hi symptoms are not recognised as a way of gaining PIP. It's how those smptoms affect your every day life to which the PIP descriptors should be viewed against.

      I suffer from Anxiety & Depression (been on medication for it since 1995) P.T.S.D. (also medicated for the same period along with psychiatric intervention) and Frontal Lobe brain damage caused by trauma.

      For those conditions and the debilitating symptoms that are caused I have a lifetime award of IIDB being assessed as having lost 40% of my mental functions.

      I attempted to match the PIP descriptors to my own difficulties and came away with a maximum of 4 points for Care only - despite the fact that I had an indefinite DLA award (High Mobility & Middle Care).

      Whether doing the exercise you suggest is the way forward I just don't know, but for me it was an eye opener of how PIP differs from DLA.

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    • Posted

      Les quite clearly in my reply to Maria I state "You could also qualify because of your mental health and how it affects you" indeed you have quoted those very lines back to me.

      Therefore I'm at a loss with regard to your point about 'symptoms???'

      I would also point out that your condition is not the gold standard and just because you failed to get enough points that doesn't mean the same applies to everyone else

      I'm becoming a little concerned at your attitude towards other posters. We recently had one who was not going to give ATOS medical evidence because you keep stating it is pointless and again we are seeing you discouraging another poster from looking up PIP descriptors in this one.

      I get the feeling you are bitter about what happened to you, let’s be fair you never stop banging on about it, but that shouldn't be a reason to frustrate others from pursuing a claim for PIP.

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    • Posted

      Because you said - quote "If you Google PIP descriptors you can match your symptoms to those listed and get a rough idea if you may qualify."

      I'm not saying that what my difficulties are should be treated as the 'Gold Standard'. I was pointing out that with those difficulties, which to me are fairly severe' I could only score 4 points. So I let others draw a comparison to their own difficulties and what points they would hope to get. I can't accept that if others have exactly the same difficulties (obviously not exaggerating anything and being totally honest especially when looking at good, average and bad days) they would get more points? I resume that you are suggesting that the likes of those whose brain and functions are so addled through taking heroine and weed should be awarded more than 4 points?

      As for my comments regarding evidence being handed to the assessor at the face to face - I quoted what would normally happen. In fact in another thread that I commented on a few minutes ago, the assessor refused to take the evidence off the claimant saying that they are not allowed to do so! Yes I know what should happen, but I also know what happens in reality.

      I accept how you may feel, but surely it isn't going to help anybody if posters keep telling them that everything will be ok and you should get points. Let's look at what happens in the real world that ATOS and CAPITA live in. Tell people as it is not how it should be.

      If people keep giving sweets out to make others feel good - all it will end up doing is causing them tooth decay!

      Bitter?? Not at all. I may well be £250 down in weekly income, but I have peace of mind and will not have to undergo the continuous regime of regular reassessment leading to MR and Tribunals.

      I 'bang on about it' for a reason - to tell people that normally you don't get what they and their family think that they should get.

      Anything to do with the DWP should come with a warning - Hope for the best but plan for the worst.


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    • Posted

      Les you have repeatedly stated that whatever a claimant tells an assessor or whatever evidence they supply is a waste of time as the assessor will just simply write what they like. You have even started a whole thread on it and caused some to question whether they should apply.

      Could-you please tell us how many assessments for ESA or PIP you have been too recently so we can make a judgment on your capability to make such statements?

      Over the past 4 years I have been present at 5 assessments for either ESA or PIP and all have followed the same procedure where the assessor asks detailed questions and reviews the medical evidence supplied whilst taking notes which were recorded on a laptop computer. Every assessment was successful and all the information given at assessment was included in their reports.

      Therefore the assessments were successful because the claimants provided consistent evidence and described their SYMPTOMS and how it affected their everyday lives. Your experience amount to some outdated assessments for different benefits which are not relevant to assessments carried out now and your own unprofessional self-assessment which is relevant to you alone and nobody else.

      I’m sorry but someone who constantly repeats the same story time and again in an attempt to discourage others from applying has to do that for a reason and in your case the finger prints of ‘bitterness’ is all over it.

      Either find a better attitude or find something else to do because your attitude here is certainly not helpful.

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    • Posted

      For a start, if you read say the MSE & CAG forums you will find a whole load of posts that state that the assessor 'ignored what I said'. Even on this site there are many that have to appeal for that same reason.

      Now my own experiences:

      ESA - 2 F2F (2009 & 2013) both fail - both awarded Support Group prior to appeal being heard. Quality of assessment report? Rubbish. Very little of what I said at the F2F was included. Stories were made up that I had a dog and did all of the household shopping and chores. In fact they made a big part of the report by saying that I had never and don't now suffer from any mental illness. (Have been receiving DLA & IIDB since 1995 due to mental health problems).

      DLA - 6 F2F (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004 & 2011)

      All bar the 2004 & 2011 re-assessments/decisions had to go down the appeal route. All four were awarded just prior to the hearing (HRM & MRC) 2004 decision was refused as well but because I was in and out of hospital I failed to lodge an appeal within the 13 month time limit.

      It took until 2011 when I found the strength to re-claim DLA.. The F2F was a shambles but thankfully the evidence I submitted was accepted as genuine and an award of HRM & MRC was made in Nov 2011.

      All of the reports for all 6 F2F assessments were full of lies and untruths. It was as though they had mixed up my assessments with someone else. In fact in the 1999 report it said that I was still playing rugby at a senior level age 51!!!

      IIDB - 8 F2F assessments (1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2011, 2012 & 2015) All bar the 2004 re-assessment was with a 'proper' doctor and as such the reports were true, complete and totally accurate. The 2004 report actually said that the drugs I was on had nothing to do with mental illness (psychiatrist prescribed them for PTSD, Anxiety and Depression) but if they were it was that the original 'accident' was not the same one as I was now claiming for - they suggested that I had been shot with two 9mm bullets in exactly the same place (scars were shown at the assessment) and I had a cracked skull in the same place) What are the chances of that happening? As I was in hospital I failed to appeal within the 13 months allowed.It was not until 2011 when I found the strength and ability to put in a new claim. This claim and the 2 others that followed were assessed by a 'proper' doctor and was re-awarded the 40% tarrif. The 2015 award was made for life.

      So you see, from my extensive history of F2F assessments & reports none apart from the last 3 for IIDB were accurate. I might as well have told the assessors that there was nothing wrong with me for all the difference it would have made. 


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    • Posted

      So you have been on 2 ESA assessments the most recent being 3 years ago although in 2015 you had an assessment for IIDB which was similar to the one's I have experienced. It is pointless referring to assessments which took place years ago which were measured using completely different criteria’s.

      That is hardly a basis to advise posters not to bother explaining how their symptoms affect them to the assessor. Done correctly the explanation of 'symptoms' matched to the descriptors and backed up with medical evidence will give a successful outcome, this has been my experience over the past 4 years with the most recent being only 3 weeks ago.

      Your opinion is wrong and could have a huge detrimental effect on those seeking advice on this forum. Could you please be a little more careful.

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    • Posted

      OK, I acccept that I have no knowledge of a PIP F2F assessment. The ESA assessment in 2013 can't really be all that different than one that is carried out today.

      As for DLA it is said that PIP is harder to get than DLA. Getting DLA for me was very hard with many refusuals. So when looking at PIP is it any wonder then that i would only score 4 points?

      When I look at what my difficulties are currently and the harder PIP regime I for the life of me can't understand how someone, who on the face of it having say Arthritis would get an award of PIP - it just doesn't seem logical.

      Add to that I have also been refused Attendance Allowance this year. 

      I understand the systems, but not the way a Decision Maker's mind works. They ignore medical/OT opinion much preferring that of ATOS's reports.


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    • Posted

      Going on our different experiences obviously a lot has changed since 2013.

      That said I attended an assessment in 2012 and found the HCP superb and the whole thing was made easier because I had explained my symptoms comprehensively on the ESA50 form and matched them to the descriptors along with medical evidence, In 2014 I attended a PIP assessment (not mine someone else's) and the same procedure was followed. I had another ESA on the 31st May this year where I saw a Doctor who was excellent and followed the same procedure as the other assessments.

      Doctors and HCP will make mistakes but they can’t come to a positive decision if they are not fully informed with the facts backed up with medical evidence.

      Advising posters to not bother explaining their circumstances is highly irresponsible. The advice should be give as much supporting evidence as possible which should include a comprehensive description of their symptoms. You never know it might not be the HCP who are at fault, it might be your attitude in refusing to co-operate.

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    • Posted

      UUmmmmm, yes I do stand accused of being grumpy quite regularly!

      I can accept mistakes, but actually lieing about what I was supposed to have admitted to is something else.

      On a side note, I have never had a 'doctor' assess me for ESA or DLA, it has always been a nurse or a physio. When I have actually had a doctor it was for the 7 out of 8 re-assessments for IIDB and yes I too found them to be totally accurate.

      As for the problems being caused by me, I do honestly doubt it. I submit what evidence I have to hand as and when it is available for all claims and re-assessments and fill out the forms in the manner in which the Notes/Instructions that are issued by the DWP dictate.

      Having read the handbooks that the assessors have to work to both for ESA and DLA, it is made quite clear what I (the claimant) is expected to do/comply with and what the assessor is required to comply with.

      You could say that I follow the rule books to the letter.

      I had one assessor (ESA - 2009) actually type out his personal opinion of me on the 'Harmful Information' page of the ESA85. This was sent to the DWP along with the normal report.

      It was only by pure chance that I found out after the DWP photocopied my ESA file for me and it was included. There was a 'post it'  sticker attached which said 'This must not be copied to the customer' - someone did just that!!

      The statement was clearly libelous and when I complained to the DWP they apologised and said that the assessor had no right in making those comments -   uummmm.



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