Mar 312015
 

With thanks to John Slater for this – follow him on twitter : @AmateurFOI

This post contains guidance about what to do if you need more time to fill in your forms for ESA/WCA or you are unable to make your WCA within the DWP Time Limits.

Parts 1 & 2 of the post give the legal basis for the advice, parts 3 onwards give practical advice on what claimants need to do, and part 9 gives 3 template letters that you can copy and paste or download, and then amend for your own circumstances and send to DWP.

Table of Contents (click on the title to go directly to each section)

  1. ESA Deadlines and Rules
  2. Legislation and DWP Decision Makers Guides
  3. What Does This Mean For Claimants?
  4. ESA Questionnaire Deadline of 4 Weeks
  5. Only Reschedule WCA for a Maximum of 4 Weeks and Only Reschedule WCA Once
  6. Possible reasons for not being able to meet conditions
  7. Sending Information to the DWP in the Post
  8. “Belt and Braces” Approach
  9. Letter Templates
    9.1 Responding to receiving ESA Questionnaire in the post
    9.2 Need to reschedule a WCA for more than 4 weeks (first time)
    9.3 Need to reschedule a WCA having done so previously

1. ESA Deadlines and Rules

If you have had to claim Employment and Support Allowance (“ESA”) you may have come across two deadlines and one rule that you were told you had to abide by. For the purposes of this article these will be referred to as the “Conditions”. These are:

You must return your ESA application form within 4 weeks.

You can only defer your Work Capability Assessment (“WCA”) for a maximum of 4 weeks.

You can only defer your WCA once.

The legislation (primary and secondary) that specifies how ESA works does not mention any time limits and doesn’t state that WCA can only be deferred once.

The DWP and Atos Healthcare (and no doubt Maximus will do the same) have always presented the Conditions as having a statutory basis and that if you don’t follow them to the letter you could have your claim refused. Are we being told the whole truth?

I don’t think we are. The Conditions are actually just internal DWP policies. This means that someone in the DWP simply invented them and imposes them on ESA claimants.

In response to an FOIA request made on 30th December 2012 the DWP stated:

Appointments may be deferred for up to four weeks from the date of request, for any circumstance, including the non-availability of recording equipment. After this time the case will be withdrawn from the system by Atos Healthcare and returned to DWP to make a decision.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/143605/response/352517/attach/html/2/Slater%205188%20Response.pdf.html

When challenged that it hadn’t explained how it came up with the 4 week deadline it eventually responded:

“… the 4 week deferment was simply a concession made by the Department to acknowledge that claimants may have a pre-existing appointment or commitment which may prevent them from attending the original appointment.  This was an operational not ministerial decision and documentation on how this four week period was derived is not available.”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/143605/response/360746/attach/html/2/IR%200078%20Mr%20Slater%20Final%20Response.pdf.html

It seems that whoever made this Condition up within the DWP didn’t bother to document the reason why 4 weeks was selected. It’s appalling that one of the biggest Government Departments makes and documents decisions that have such a huge impact on people in such an unprofessional manner.

The following was found on the Atos Healthcare Blog web site:
If you’re not able to make your appointment, you can call us to rearrange it, but it’s important to note that we aren’t allowed to rearrange your appointment more than once. If for any reason you’re not able to attend your rearranged appointment, we’ll need to send your information back to Jobcentre Plus. They will then let you know whether or not you can rearrange your appointment a second time.”

http://blog.atoshealthcare.com/tag/employment-and-support-allowance/page/2/

The following section looks at what the legislation and the DWP own Decision Makers Guides (“DMG”) says about the DWP imposition of the three Conditions. This is important as departments such as the DWP are reliant on legislation to prescribe the powers that they operate by.

2. Legislation and DWP Decision Makers Guides

For people that may not be familiar with DMG, they are the official DWP publications that tell DWP Decision Makers what the law is and how they should apply it. Using the DWP own words the DMG are “… for DWP staff who make decisions about benefits and pensions. It helps them make decisions that are accurate and consistent.”

DMG are published online and can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/decision-makers-guide-staff-guide

Without boring you by repeating lines of legislation, ESA claimants can be required to provide information and evidence to determine that they have limited capability for work (“LCW”) and/or limited capability for work related activity (“LCWRA”). You would expect this to be the case as that’s how applications are made for ESA.

Claimants can also be required to attend and submit themselves to a medical examination to determine their capabilities against criteria defined in legislation.

The DMG are very illuminating in respect of the Conditions. The table below shows the relevant clauses taken from Volume 8 (amendment 4 February 2010). Each clause in the DMG usually refers to the specific legislation that allows the DWP to behave in specific ways. For example clause 42222 below cites the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 No. 794  (using the abbreviation “ESA Regs”).  However, as we see later, in respect of the conditions being discussed this isn’t always the case.

Emphasis to text in the table below (bold and colour) has been added in by the author. Please note that the grammatical and typographical errors which appear below in this table are not mine! They appear in the original DWP documents.

Table 1: Extracts from volume 8 of the DMG

Clause Guidance
42221 A claimant can be treated as not having LCW if1.     they fail without good cause to provide information, attend or submit to examination (see DMG 42224)
42222 A claimant can be required to1.    provide certain information asked for by the DM including the return of the questionnaire (see DMG 42224)
42224 A claimant who is subject to the LCWA can be asked to provide information relating to their ability to perform activities referred to in Appendix 1. This information is usually asked by sending the claimant a questionnaire.
42227 A claimant is treated as not having LCW for failure to return the questionnaire without good cause if the Secretary of State can show that1.     the questionnaire was sent and2.    there is no response after six weeks to the first requests for the information       from the day following the date of issue and3.    a further request was sent at least four weeks after the first letter and at leasttwo weeks have passed since then and4.    good cause has not been accepted for delay beyond the period stated in 2. and

3. above.

 

42228 The DM needs to make sure that the Secretary of State has complied with the duty set out in the legislation to send the questionnaire and the reminder to the claimant. The DM can accept that it has been sent if there is a record of issue and no indication that it was not properly addressed, stamped and posted.
42232 As in DMG 42228 the law imposes time limits on the Secretary of State in relation to the sending of the questionnaire and the reminder. However, there is no law imposing a time limit on the claimant for the return of the questionnaire. Sometimes the questionnaire is returned after the time limit imposed on the Secretary of State but before the DM has considered whether there was good cause for the earlier failure to return the questionnaire. In these circumstances, the determination cannot be made because it cannot be held that the claimant has failed to return the questionnaire. Instead, normal WCA action should resume.
42247 Only one rescheduled appointment can be offered during a WCA referral. If the claimant cannot attend the rescheduled appointment, medical services will record that the claimant failed to attend. The DM will have to consider the reasons why the claimant cannot attend and consider good cause (see DMG 42261).End of ClauseComment by the AuthorSurprisingly this entry in the DMG does not refer to any primary or secondary legislation. This seems to support the view presented here that imposing a single reschedule for a WCA is nothing more than a DWP internal policy. However, it seems sensible to get the DWP to clarify if its approach is backed by specific legislation or it just decided to impose the condition. Therefore, the following FOI request was submitted:https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rescheduling_wca_more_than_once#incoming-622625
42261 When a claimant fails to return the questionnaire of fails to attend or submit to examination, consideration of good cause includes1. whether the claimant was outside GB at the relevant time and2. the claimant’s state of health at the relevant time and3. the nature of any disability the claimant hasNote: this is not exhaustive (see DMG 42262-42276 for further guidance on good cause)

The abbreviations used for primary and secondary legislation within the actual DMG are defined in the documents that can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/decision-makers-guide-abbreviations-staff-guide

So, in respect of the deadline to submit your ESA questionnaire the DMG is very helpful. It explicitly confirms that there is no law imposing a time limit on the claimant for the return of the questionnaire.

In respect of only being able to defer a WCA for a maximum of 4 weeks the DMG is completely silent. This supports that this is an arbitrary limit imposed by the DWP.

In the matter of only being able to reschedule a WCA once the DWP response to the FOI request (at same link as given above) confirmed that only allowing a WCA to be rescheduled once is simply a DWP policy (one that apparently dates back to the days of Incapacity Benefit).  This raises the question about how lawful it is for the DM to treat people as ‘failing to attend a WCA’ simply for wanting to reschedule a WCA more than once. Interestingly the DWP attempted to side step this part of the FOI request. An internal review request has been submitted to see if the DWP can provide any information to support its view that by asking for a WCA to be rescheduled more than once a person is ‘failing to attend a WCA’. I suspect this will turn out to be another example of the DWP simply imposing Conditions which it has invented

3. What Does This Mean For Claimants?

If these Conditions imposed by the DWP are not prescribed in law does that mean we can simply ignore them? The answer is no, we can’t. If a case came before a Tribunal dealing with these conditions it is highly likely that it would look at what is reasonable in that particular case. It would also consider the actions of the person claiming ESA. If you simply ignored the DWP whilst being in a position of being able to contact them I doubt the Tribunal would be particularly sympathetic to your case.

However, if you did everything that could reasonably be expected of someone in your position to engage with the DWP and your specific circumstances meant that the conditions imposed by the DWP were not reasonable, then it is highly likely that the Tribunal would find in your favour.

However, the best outcome would be to avoid having to take your case to a Tribunal in the first place. The following sections look at the sort of actions you could take to protect yourself if you can’t meet the DWP imposed Conditions.

4.     ESA Questionnaire Deadline of 4 Weeks

As soon as you receive the questionnaire in the post you need to do something, don’t just ignore it.

Make an appointment to see your GP, Practice Nurse or other Healthcare Professional that you normally deal with and explain what is going on and the negative impact the situation is having on your health. Ask them to make a note about the situation in your health record and ideally see if they will give you a letter/note explaining that the 4 week deadline is unreasonable. If you can’t get an appointment with your GP or others, then ask one or two people (family or close friends) to write you a letter (signed and dated) explaining how unwell you are and why the 4 week deadline is unreasonable for your particular circumstances.

Write back immediately (including copies of any letters supporting your position) explaining that you won’t be able to meet the 4 week deadline and that you have made an appointment to see your GP/Nurse/Other Healthcare Professional as receiving the questionnaire has made you feel so unwell. Personally I wouldn’t try to do this over the telephone as it is much harder to prove what you said.

Be totally clear that you are not refusing to provide the requested information. Explain that you will comply with your statutory obligations within fair and reasonable timescales that are appropriate to your specific circumstances.

Explain why the 4 week deadline isn’t reasonable for your circumstances (see later for possible examples).

Explain that you are aware that the law does not impose a deadline on the return of the questionnaire (you could cite the relevant DMG clause 42232 if you feel comfortable doing so).

Suggest your own deadline. If you do this it needs to be reasonable and most important of all you need to be able to meet it. Don’t replace their unreasonable deadline with another one of your own.

Explain why your deadline is fair and reasonable for your specific circumstances.

State that unless the DWP challenges your revised deadline in writing within 7 calendar days of posting your letter it will have been deemed to have accepted it.

Keep a copy of all letters you send along with proof of postage (see section about writing to the DWP later).

5.     Only Reschedule WCA for a Maximum of 4 Weeks and Only Reschedule WCA Once

As soon as you receive the questionnaire in the post you need to do something, don’t just ignore it.

Make an appointment to see your GP, Practice Nurse or other Healthcare Professional who you normally deal with and explain what is going on and the negative impact the situation is having on your health. Ask them to make a note about the situation in your health record and ideally see if they will give you a letter/note explaining that the 4 week limit / only one reschedule is unreasonable. If you can’t get an appointment with your GP or others, then ask one or two people (family or close friends) to write you a letter (signed and dated) explaining how unwell you are and why the 4 week limit is unreasonable for your circumstances.

As soon as you know that you cannot attend your WCA you should write (including copies of any letters supporting your position) to the appropriate organisation (Maximus) to notify them that you cannot attend. If the date of the WCA is a week or less away it would be sensible to notify them by telephone (you or someone you authorise) and explain that an explanatory letter will follow shortly. Regardless of whether you are able to comply with the DWP imposed conditions, it is always sensible to notify changes in writing in order to protect yourself. It is important to make a written record of when the telephone call took place (date and time), the name of the person you spoke to and what, if anything, was agreed.

Be absolutely clear that you are not refusing to attend or submit to a WCA. Explain that you will comply with your statutory obligations within fair and reasonable timescales that are reasonable and appropriate for your specific circumstances.

Explain why you need to reschedule your WCA and why rescheduling is fair and reasonable for your specific circumstances (see later for examples).

Explain that you are aware that the law does not impose a maximum limit of 4 weeks for rescheduling a WCA or set a limit of only one reschedule (as appropriate to your circumstances).

Suggest your own revised date and time, if it is appropriate for your condition, for the rescheduled WCA. If you do this your suggestion needs to be reasonable and most important of all you need to be able to meet it. Don’t replace their unreasonable deadline with another one of your own.

Explain why your deadline is fair and reasonable for your specific circumstances.

State that unless the DWP challenges your revised deadline in writing within 7 calendar days of posting your letter it will have been deemed to have accepted it.

Keep a copy of all letters you send along with proof of postage (see section about writing the DWP later).

6. Possible reasons for not being able to meet conditions

Whatever reason(s) you cite you need to be able to explain why it is appropriate to your specific circumstances, e.g.

  • The current state of your health is such that it is not reasonable to expect you to comply with the relevant Condition imposed by the DWP.
  • Your specific condition means that the imposed deadlines are unreasonable. For example:
  • Mental health conditions that make it hard to complete the questionnaire.
  • Side effects of medication mean it takes you longer to complete the questionnaire.
  • Aspects of your physical condition, e.g. pain, exhaustion etc, mean it takes you longer to complete the questionnaire.
  • You are in hospital or receiving treatment that means that it is not reasonable to expect you to comply with the deadline imposed by the DWP.
  • You will be out of the country or on holiday within the UK at the time of the appointment or during the 4 week deadline to complete the questionnaire.
  • Attempting to comply with the deadline will exacerbate your condition and therefore cause you actual physical and/or psychological harm.
  • You need to be accompanied to attend the WCA and it isn’t possible to get someone within the current timescales.
  • You need help to complete the questionnaire (e.g. the CAB, other organisation or family member) and that won’t be available to you in adequate time to allow you to meet the deadline.
  • You have other appointments (e.g. treatments, seeing Consultants, tests etc) which clash with the imposed dates.
  • It could be that you are suffering from something unrelated to your health condition such as the flu.
  • You are waiting for the results of tests that will be key evidence for your ESA claim and want to be able to include them in your questionnaire or present them at your WCA.

By refusing to change the deadline or reschedule WCA the DWP places you at a significant disadvantage and could be breaching of your human rights. This is likely to be applicable alongside the other reasons.

7. Sending Information to the DWP in the Post

A common problem when dealing with the DWP seems to be information going missing. This includes information delivered by hand to JCP buildings and documents sent through the post. The scale of the problem via the postal route suggests that there is something else going on other than the odd letter going missing. I am aware of letters being ignored (or not arriving at the right person’s desk!) until they are resent using the very expensive Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed® service which means a signature must be obtained. It seems that using the much cheaper Royal Mail Signed For® service doesn’t guarantee that your letter is ‘signed for’.

It’s not reasonable to expect people to pay over £5 to be sure a letter is delivered to the DWP. Is there anything you can do to protect yourself? I think there is. Once again the DWP DMG has been helpful. When addressing proof that letters from the DWP have been sent it refers to the Interpretation Act 1978. Clause 7 states:

Where an Act authorises or requires any document to be service by post. Served by post (whether the expression “serve” or the expression ” give ” or ” send ” or any other expression is used) then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service is deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document and, unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”

In plain English this means that if it can be shown that the envelope was properly addressed, contained the letter in question and the correct stamp was applied then the law considers the letter delivered unless it can be proved otherwise. If this is good enough for the DWP then it is good enough for the rest of us.  So how do we do this is practice?

Keep a copy of all documents you send to the DWP

It is always good practice to keep copies of everything you send to the DWP as it does have an unfortunate habit of losing things! This is relatively easy if you have access to a computer, printer and a scanner. If you don’t have access to such computer equipment then your smartphone or digital camera can help. Take photographs of every page of each document you send to the DWP and try to store it in a location where it won’t get deleted accidentally. Many smartphones allow you to write to memory cards so you could use one of these to store photographs of your correspondence with the DWP. You could also ask family or friends for help if they own a computer and a scanner.

Properly addressed and correct postage

If you are not sure about the correct postage you can use a set of digital kitchen scales to weigh your letter and you can find the correct stamp rates on the Royal Mail website. Another alternative is to take your letter to the post office and ask them to weigh it for you. You can then take a photograph of the envelope with the correct address and stamp.

Once you have addressed the envelope and affixed the stamp either scan it or take a photograph. You can also include the front page of your letter in the picture or scan to show a clear link between the letter and the completed envelope.

Proof that it has been posted

Whilst it costs money to send letters using the Royal Mail’s special delivery services it doesn’t cost you anything to get proof of postage at the Post Office. If you take your letter to your local Post Office they will print you off a proof of postage receipt. This serves two purposes. It proves you actually sent the letter and it shows that you put the correct value stamp on (otherwise the Post Office counter would not accept it).

One thing to be aware of is that the receipts may be printed on heat sensitive paper and these fade over time or turn black if left in sunlight. When you have your proof of postage always make a copy by using your scanner or your camera.

8. “Belt and Braces” Approach

If you want to adopt a “belt and braces” approach to corresponding with the DWP then you might consider the following. The next time you write to the DWP explain that you are aware of clause 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978 and that you always retain copies of any documents sent to the DWP along with proof that the correct address was used, the correct postage affixed and proof of postage. You could always add that you retain the right to seek financial compensation if due to the negligence of the DWP (i.e. losing your correspondence) you suffer financial loss. This would amount to the costs for paper, ink, envelopes, stamps etc.

9. Letter Templates

9.1 Responding to receiving ESA Questionnaire in the post.

Your Name
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Name of Person or Organisation
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Date: <DATE>
Ref: <Your NINO>

Dear Sir/Madam,
Submission of ESA50 Questionnaire

I received an ESA50 questionnaire on <DATE RECEIVED>. I understand that the DWP imposes an internal policy of a 4 week deadline for the return of the questionnaire. I am aware that in the DWP own decision makers guide, clause 42232 states “… there is no law imposing a time limit on the claimant for the return of the questionnaire.”

For my circumstances this internal policy is manifestly unreasonable for the following reasons:

<Explain the reason(s) why it is not reasonable to expect you to meet the 4 week deadline here. Include that you have made an appointment(s) to see your GP, Nurse, etc due to the impact of receiving the questionnaire. If you are going to include letters from people supporting you say so here.>

I believe that the <Enter Date> is a reasonable date for me to submit the completed questionnaire given my particular circumstances. Unless I hear to the contrary within 7 calendar days of posting this letter, the DWP will be deemed to have accepted my proposed submission date. My proposed submission date is appropriate to my circumstances for the following reasons:

<Enter the reasons why your proposed submission date is fair and reasonable given your circumstances>

I wish to be absolutely clear that I am not refusing to complete and return the questionnaire and will always comply with the legal obligations arising out of my ESA claim. I am aware that should a DWP Decision Maker seek to obtain “Good Cause” from me in this matter they are likely to be acting unlawfully as they will be acting in their own cause, i.e. judging against an internal DWP policy. The relevant precedent in this matter is R v Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy ([1924] 1 KB 256, [1923] All ER Rep 233).

Failing to give me reasonable time to submit evidence via the questionnaire could constitute a breach of my human rights.

Please be aware that I have retained a copy of this letter (including the address used) and proof of postage.

Yours faithfully

Your Name


You can download a copy of this letter in word document format here Template Letter 1 – Responding to receiving ESA Questionnaire in the post


9.2 Need to reschedule a WCA for more than 4 weeks (first time).

 

Your Name
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Name of Person or Organisation
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Date: <DATE>
Ref: <Your NINO>

Dear Sir/Madam,
Rescheduling of Work Capability Assessment

I need to reschedule my Work Capability Assessment (“WCA”) that is currently arranged for <enter date & time> at <enter location>. I understand that the DWP imposes an internal policy of only permitting a WCA to be rescheduled for a maximum of 4 weeks and that this has no statutory basis.

For my circumstances this internal policy is manifestly unreasonable for the following reasons:

<Explain the reason(s) why it is not reasonable to expect you to attend a WCA within the next 4 weeks. Include that you have made an appointment(s) to see your GP, Nurse, etc due to the impact of the date of the WCA. If you are going to include letters from people supporting you say so here.>

I believe that the <Enter Date> at <Enter Time> is a reasonable date and time for me attend for a WCA given my particular circumstances. Unless I hear to the contrary within 7 calendar days of posting this letter the DWP will be deemed to have accepted my proposed date for my WCA. My proposed date is appropriate to my circumstances for the following reasons:

<Enter the reasons why your proposed date to attend for a WCA is fair and reasonable given your circumstances>

I wish to be absolutely clear that I am not refusing to attend and submit to an examination (WCA) and will always comply with the legal obligations arising out of my ESA claim. I am aware that should a DWP Decision Maker seek to obtain “Good Cause” from me in this matter they are likely to be acting unlawfully as they will be acting in their own cause, i.e. judging against an internal DWP policy. The relevant precedent in this matter is R v Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy ([1924] 1 KB 256, [1923] All ER Rep 233).

Failing to give me the opportunity to attend a WCA to present relevant evidence within a timescale that is appropriate for my particular circumstances could constitute a breach of my human rights.

Please be aware that I have retained a copy of this letter (including the address used) and proof of postage.

Yours faithfully

Your Name


You can download a copy of this letter in word document format here Template Letter 2 – reschedule a WCA for more than 4 weeks (first time)


9.3 Need to reschedule a WCA having done so previously.

Your Name
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Name of Person or Organisation
Address
Town/City
County
Post Code

Date: <DATE>
Ref: <Your NINO>

Dear Sir/Madam,
Rescheduling of Work Capability Assessment

I need to reschedule my Work Capability Assessment (“WCA”) that is currently arranged for <enter date & time> at <enter location>. I understand that the DWP imposes an internal policy of only permitting a WCA to be rescheduled once and that this has no statutory basis.

For my circumstances this internal policy is manifestly unreasonable for the following reasons:

<Explain the reason(s) why it is not reasonable to allow you to reschedule your WCA again. Include that you have made an appointment(s) to see your GP, Nurse, etc due to the impact of the date of the WCA. If you are going to include letters from people supporting you say so here.>

I believe that the <Enter Date> at <Enter Time> is a reasonable date and time for me attend for a WCA given my particular circumstances. Unless I hear to the contrary within 7 calendar days of posting this letter the DWP will be deemed to have accepted my proposed date for my WCA. My proposed date is appropriate to my circumstances for the following reasons:

<Enter the reasons why your proposed date to attend for a WCA is fair and reasonable given your circumstances>

I wish to be absolutely clear that I am not refusing to attend and submit to an examination (WCA) and will always comply with the legal obligations arising out of my ESA claim. I am aware that should a DWP Decision Maker seek to obtain “Good Cause” from me in this matter they are likely to be acting unlawfully as they will be acting in their own cause, i.e. judging against an internal DWP policy. The relevant precedent in this matter is R v Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy ([1924] 1 KB 256, [1923] All ER Rep 233).

Failing to give me the opportunity to reschedule my WCA such that I can attend to present relevant evidence within a timescale that is appropriate for my particular circumstances could constitute a breach of my human rights.

Please be aware that I have retained a copy of this letter (including the address used) and proof of postage.

Yours faithfully

Your Name


You can download a copy of this letter in word document format here Template Letter 3 – reschedule a WCA having done so previously


[suffusion-the-author]

[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 13:01

  3 Responses to “Is the 4 week time limit for ESA/WCA enforceable? Forms and advice on how to manage DWP rules”

  1. My very first WCA was on the same day I had an hospital appointment, leaving me only 7 minutes from the time I got home to travel 9 miles to an assessment centre, the time is taken from the actual day and time I returned home, I cancelled it before the day, but the person said I couldn’t cancel again as I had already cancelled it once so I told them, rather rudely, it was my first call to cancel and that they should read the fecking forms as it clearly stated on the form and a copy was enclosed stating the appointment time and that hospital transport was arranged. She put the phone down on me, so I called back, withholding my number, and they eventually rearranged it, only for them to cancel it on the day with 3 hours to spare. I told them that if they called again to cancel I would just turn up and expect an assessment within 10 minutes of the appointment time, failing that I would expect to be placed in one of the groups and paid from that day as passed and unfit for work, that was over 5 years ago.

  2. Just a passing thought having not read all your text (I’m lucky and ancient enough not to fall foul of this appalling beurocratic system) are references to “days” meant to be calendar days or ‘working’ days? And what is the authority for assessing when a DWP functionary is ‘at work’? And what if an (un)official strike or ‘National’ holiday intervenes?
    What ‘an absolute shower’ as Terry Thomas might have said!

  3. Can someone help me please im getting proper stressed out :/
    I had a medical assessment which due to my mental health condition and dyslexia i miss read the black writing on the stark white paper. I contacted Atos and they said my case has been sent back to the Aberdean Job center.
    I received a form to explain why i did not turn up at the assessment.That form was sent to me on the 10th April and did not arrive at my home until the 15th April. It clearly stated that i had to have that form returned by the 20th April! so i filled in the form quickly as i could do to the lenght of time it took to get to my property in a panic that they would not receive it in time. I used the envelope provided and could not afford the recorded delivery to cover myself and i did not copy the form either..big booby.
    I have recieved a letter with they reason to stop my employment support allowance ( higher rate incapacity i have been previously claiming the old benefit)
    “The decision was made because you did not attend the work capability assessment appointment on 10-april 2015, and you did not give us a good reason why i did not attend”
    they said “You have right to appeal against the decision,but you cannot appeal until we have looked at the decision again. We call this a Mandatory Reconsideration…
    Well i did state my mental health and learning difficulties that sometimes effect my visual perception. In the letter they also never said whether they received the form back. Plus they did not give me ample time to return the form and filled it in at a highly stressed state. This has caused me high anxiety and upset. Surely this is unlawful and i can pursue it in some way??
    Can anyone point me to a suitable template letter or do i use the templates above or can you give me a right idea of the correct info i need to put in a letter .I feel i have been completely disregarded so they can try and get me off long term incapacity benefit.
    thanks this is really urgent if someone could help me structure a reasonable reply for my case.

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