Ref: ESA50 forms
DPAC has become aware of a number of serious issues in relation to the ESA50 form. In fact, the evidence received seems so extreme as to be almost unbelievable but a pattern has started to emerge.
For example, this month, a benefit claimant has been refused ESA (and a mandatory reconsideration upheld the decision), based on an assessment, but also based on an ESA50 form which 2 years earlier contributed to the same decision. But 2 years ago, the ESA decision was found to be flawed and overturned by a tribunal. Still, the same ESA50 form was used again this time by Maximus and the claimant has for a second time appealed the decision. But of course, this time, he has had to wait for the Mandatory Reconsideration outcome on no income before being allowed to lodge an appeal.
Another claimant was awarded ESA 2 years ago on the basis of the ESA50 he submitted, and was not required to undergo a face to face Work Capability Assesssment. But this month he has been asked to attend a WCA with Maximus without having to submit a new ESA50. So assuming that Maximus is again using the same earlier ESA50 form to assess his capability for work, it should lead to the same conclusion that a face to face WCA is not needed to decide that he is entitled to ESA.
This does not make sense, and disabled people deserve much better than this.
While Maximus has shown itself to be fairly accomodating and prepared to accept more recent ESA50s and a reasonable deadline for completing the form when requested by claimants, that is just not good enough. Claimants should not have to argue their individual case in order that Maximus fulfill their contractual requirement for the issuing of ESA50 forms, nor should they have to negotiate a deadline for completing and submitting the form when DWP has decided that 4 weeks are necessary to do so.
The WCA is desperately flawed and badly failing many claimants, as shown by the recent story of a woman who was found fit for work although she has Parkinsons disease and a brain tumour, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-parkinsons-brain-tumour-ruled-5822041, which is why DPAC has repeatedly called for it to be scrapped, but in the meantime claimants deserve to be treated fairly, consistently and lawfully in their dealings with Maximus.
DWP’s argument for reassessing claimants endlessly is that medical conditions can vary, which makes the re-use of a 2 year old form unjustifiable, and this has been criticised by tribunals which have had to decide on these cases. Likewise, claimants who are given less than 4 weeks to complete their ESA50 forms are placed at a substantial disavantage compared to claimants who benefited from 4 weeks to do so.
DPAC is demanding that Maximus and DWP ensure that every claimant is issued with an ESA50 before each WCA and is given 4 weeks to submit it. DPAC is also demanding that Maximus require claimants to attend a face to face Work Capability Assessment only after consideration of a recent or up-to-date ESA50
Anything less would be unacceptable and probably unlawful.
We look forward to your comments,
Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC)