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  #1  
Old 28th August 2011, 21:43
clawhammer clawhammer is offline
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Question Employment & Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Hi good people.

I received a letter from the DWP this weekend informing me that I’m going to be assessed for ESA (I’m sure many of you have had or will be getting similar letters in future). I’m currently receiving incapacity related Income Support on the basis of having social anxiety.

My question:

Have you been through the ESA assessment process? Did you sail through without any problems, or maybe you had to go through the appeal process, or were forced onto Jobseekers’ Allowance?

There seems to be very little information online about claiming ESA on the grounds of suffering from social anxiety, so I’d really appreciate hearing about any stories you have about your own experiences when being assessed for ESA.

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 28th August 2011, 21:53
ItsNotAPorkChop ItsNotAPorkChop is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

My doctor took me off JSA onto ESA as I couldn't cope with it anymore. I went for my assessment and after a week or so was told I wasn't eligible so lost that plus wasn't allowed back on JSA, not that I would have gone back on it anyway. I just felt horrible thinking people may have thought I was making it up or something. People don't take SA seriously and I think its wrong.
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  #3  
Old 28th August 2011, 22:02
SashaShy SashaShy is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

I've been on ESA since 2009. I had the assessment, had my early intervention worker with me to back me up, and was asked some random questions like 'how often do you go out?', and such. I've been on it ever since with two reassessments inbetween, and apparently I'm due for another one but I don't know when.

I did 'sail through it' I guess, even though it was really stressful to go through all that. But I know that I've been really lucky with the process compared to some people, as yeah SA isn't taken seriously sometimes.
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  #4  
Old 28th August 2011, 23:24
I Love My Bump I Love My Bump is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

My current understanding through my work is that people are getting kicked off of ESA in their thousands and my colleagues who work in Welfare Rights have the bulk of their time taken up just now helping such people with their appeals.

I've been told that the rigid questioning makes it very difficult for those with mental health concerns to actually demonstrate how debilitating their illness can be, and I've seen a lot of people come to the office, stating that their claim was stopped and they had been given a total of 0 points - yes, 0 points! Part of it is because some days people with mental ill health can function better than others.

These people HAVE to go on Job Seekers Allowance whilst they are going through the appeals process or they'd have no income whatsoever, which is stressful, particularly for people who know that they are unfit to be working.

That said, I hope your claim goes okay, because the current system is absolutely terrible and the amount of beaurocracy and hoops to jump through in order to appeal decisions is horrendous for people who are already depressed and anxious.
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  #5  
Old 28th August 2011, 23:26
TheInbetweener TheInbetweener is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Ive been on ESA for 6months nearly, think I get reviewed soon, but dont see how they can kick me off when doctor signs me off. Theres people like MIND and others that will appeal to high heaven for me anyways so im not too worried, although I wont be happy when I get the forms through.
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  #6  
Old 29th August 2011, 00:16
Ricky_Lee Ricky_Lee is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

I've had a few problems with them in the past, this might help with some of you guys:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum.../dg_177366.pdf

It shows you what they score you on in that guide, could be helpful to some.
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  #7  
Old 29th August 2011, 16:43
clawhammer. clawhammer. is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Thanks for the replies.

I just did a search on Google for “employment & support allowance and social anxiety” and up popped a link to this thread, so I guess that shows how little information there is online for people with social anxiety who are claiming ESA.

I also noticed that the regulations for ESA were slightly amended in March this year, so it may be slightly easier to claim ESA now on the grounds of suffering from social anxiety?



Section 16 of the Work Capability Assessment seems to be the only section that applies to social anxiety.



The descriptors are quite vague and open to interpretation, so I can see how some people here fail the ESA assessment while others pass. If you're marked as either B or C above then you're liable to fail the ESA assessment.

I’ll post here again when I get my results…
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  #8  
Old 13th September 2011, 18:52
EuroChris EuroChris is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

I'm considering applying for ESA. I've been out of education/employment for over 2 years now because of my SA. I've been put off applying because of the stigma of being on benefits as well as the entire process of filling in the form and all of these medical assessments.

On the form it says I would need a 'medical statement' as proof of my condition. I'm assuming that I would just go to my GP and ask him to write one for me?
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  #9  
Old 13th September 2011, 20:03
Nat88 Nat88 is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by EuroChris
I'm considering applying for ESA. I've been out of education/employment for over 2 years now because of my SA. I've been put off applying because of the stigma of being on benefits as well as the entire process of filling in the form and all of these medical assessments.

On the form it says I would need a 'medical statement' as proof of my condition. I'm assuming that I would just go to my GP and ask him to write one for me?
Yeah, a medical statement is basically a sick note. If your doctor agrees you are unfit to work he will write one for you. However during the assessment phase of ESA you might find you need several to cover the period, before they call you in for your medical. I'm currently waiting for the results of mine, it's been nearly three weeks and I hope everything's gone fine
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  #10  
Old 14th September 2011, 16:03
goth_jester22 goth_jester22 is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

yes i have been though it but i took some valium before i went for the assessment so i looked calm but it was just the meds (big misstake) i'm currently appealing but it takes a while to get a hearing
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  #11  
Old 17th November 2011, 17:36
clawhammer clawhammer is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

A brief update...

Well, two and a half months on, I finally had my ESA medical this afternoon.

I was expecting the medical to last 20-60 minutes, but mine lasted more like 4-5 minutes - it was really quick!

The guy doing the medical seemed pleasant enough and I got the feeling he was on my side. He asked me a few general questions - How did I spend my days, What time did I go to bed, etc., but he clearly didn't try and grill me with lots of awkward questions. He shook my hand and wished me well, and that was that. I couldn't believe the whole thing was over so quickly.

I'll write another update when I hear more...
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  #12  
Old 18th November 2011, 00:08
Within These Walls Within These Walls is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Well done with your medical.
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  #13  
Old 12th January 2012, 13:24
clawhammer. clawhammer. is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Okay, another update...

I had the ESA medical in November and was told a month later (16 December) that I had failed the medical.

At this point you are given 17 days in which to provide more information for the Decision Maker to consider, so I saw my doctor and got more documents from him, and also wrote a more detailed letter about myself, and sent these off to the DM.

I'm STILL waiting to hear the final decison, but expect to find out shortly.

In the meantime, I requested a copy of the medical assessor's report, and that arrived in the post today. It's quite a lengthy and detailed report, 20 pages long. I thought it might be of interest to quote a few sections from the report as it shows the level to which you're being observed during the assessment.

This is what was written about me in the section about Mental State:

Appearance
Tired: Normal
Build: Average Build
Grooming: Well kempt
Dress General: Neatly dressed
General Health: Well
Tremulous: Absent
Increased sweating: Absent
Complexion: Normal

Behaviour
Activity Rocking: Absent
Facial expression: Normal
Activity General: Normal
Coping at Interview: Coped at interview
Arousal: Normal
Rapport: Adequate
Eye Contact: Adequate eye contact

Speech
Amount: Normal
Rate: Normal
Volume: Normal
Content: Normal

Mood
Ideas of Self Harm: No ideas of self harm
Demeanor: Normal

Thoughts
Delusions: No delusions
Ruminations: Does not ruminate
Obsessions: None

Perceptions
Illusions: Does not experience illusions
Hallucinations: None

Cognition - General
Orientation: Orientated in time, place and person
Prompting: Did not require prompting
General Memory: Adequate
Concentration: Adequate

Insight
Insight: Good
Awareness of Danger: Adequate

It's nice to know I'm so NORMAL.

I could post a lot more from the report here, but summing up, the assessor concluded:

"The client has mild anxiety, and significant limitation of social engagement is unlikely for the majority of time. The client does not have significant functional impairment and may return to work in the short term. I advise that a return to work could be considered within 3 months."

That last statement seems a bit odd, implying that I'm not fit for work right now, but could be within 3 months.

I'll post another update as and when I hear more news...
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  #14  
Old 12th January 2012, 14:05
Benfica Benfica is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark101
So you've got to be dripping in sweat,smell of BO,dirty clothes and make no eye contact then to fail the medical? Like my brother with his schizophrenia has to weigh 7st and be begging outside his local ASDA before the crisis team get involved and offer him any support
Pretty much the case I think.

Intertesting and helpful post there, Clawhammer.
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  #15  
Old 12th January 2012, 15:01
jevets jevets is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

I had mine yesterday they seem more interested in physical health than mental.
I was with the women for about 30min.
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  #16  
Old 12th January 2012, 15:47
nineofswords nineofswords is offline
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Default Re: Employment & Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by clawhammer
you had to go through the appeal process, or were forced onto Jobseekers’ Allowance?
this is what has happened to me, I had a medical in 2010 after making a claim for esa in 2009. in the 2010 medical I sailed through fine, in the spring of 2011 I received a letter asking me to attend another medical ,I filled out the forms exactly as before and was assessed the same way yet this time failed to pass, I appealed and lost the appeal and i'm now on jsa.
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  #17  
Old 12th January 2012, 16:03
spartan spartan is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

i failed my appeal the last stop . i got half the points but still not enough.. and they stopped my money a month ago.

how on earth do they know what a persons mental state is, when all the loaded questions lead to one avenue = fit for work.

it is really getting my goat that SAD/SA is not out in the open like OCD is!
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  #18  
Old 12th January 2012, 17:02
clawhammer. clawhammer. is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by nineofswords
I appealed and lost the appeal and i'm now on jsa.
Quote:
Originally Posted by spartan
i failed my appeal the last stop . i got half the points but still not enough.. and they stopped my money a month ago.
Sorry to hear that.

Did either of you get help with your appeal, i.e., from somewhere like Citizens Advice or MIND?
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  #19  
Old 12th January 2012, 17:08
nineofswords nineofswords is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by clawhammer.
Sorry to hear that.

Did either of you get help with your appeal, i.e., from somewhere like Citizens Advice or MIND?
yea, cab were incredibly helpful and offered a lot of support and encouragement during the appeal process, would highly recommend people use their help.
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  #20  
Old 12th January 2012, 17:13
clawhammer. clawhammer. is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by nineofswords
yea, cab were incredibly helpful and offered a lot of support and encouragement during the appeal process, would highly recommend people use their help.
Thanks.

I'll definitely get down to my local CAB if I need to appeal.
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  #21  
Old 12th January 2012, 18:30
spartan spartan is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

i didnt use either of them sadly.

i am re aplying for ESA again though, which can be backdated upto 3 months , with relevant sick note from my docs, you can re aply for ESA even after your appeal has failed, if your condition has changed or are receiving medication/change and or your condition has worsened over the 6 months from when you 1st failed your initial medical.

i personally think thousands are being put in awfull states of mind through this process of declaring virtually everone fit for work - when they are clearly not, myself included.

and as usual the people that are not ill and fiddling the system dont give 2 hoots..
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  #22  
Old 12th January 2012, 19:20
clawhammer. clawhammer. is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

^Thanks for the feedback and good luck with your new claim.
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  #23  
Old 12th January 2012, 19:34
яemus яemus is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

When you go to a medical, always act as if it's your worst day!
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  #24  
Old 13th January 2012, 01:49
Within These Walls Within These Walls is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Had my medical back in October and recently found out I scored zero points. Am currently in the process of appealing. Apparently, I have no mental health or SA issues, despite having a long history of social anxiety and depression problems and also having a nervous breakdown and being hospitalized last time I tried to work. ATOS lied on the medical report and twisted my words to fit their own agenda.
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  #25  
Old 13th January 2012, 02:00
Benfica Benfica is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poltergeist
Had my medical back in October and recently found out I scored zero points. Am currently in the process of appealing. Apparently, I have no mental health or SA issues, despite having a long history of social anxiety and depression problems and also having a nervous breakdown and being hospitalized last time I tried to work. ATOS lied on the medical report and twisted my words to fit their own agenda.
Sorry to be flippant, but I really do think they should sell the ATOS medical as the definitive cure for all mental health conditions. It never ceases to amaze me how thousands of people walk into a medical with long standing mental health issues, then walk out 'totally cured' and fit as a fiddle. I mean who needs therapy and/or medication when we have ATOS to cure all our issues?

The last ATOS I had they also lied to suit their agenda. The 'doctor' actually told me that in my present (at that time) state I should not even be doing voluntary work one day per week. Then, would you believe, when I got my report back I'd scored zero points. Honestly, I laughed my head off. The laughter was short lived of course, and to be honest, it badly affected me and left me in a bad place I don't want to revisit any time soon. Basically, they are a bunch of lying, hypocritical frauds working to a Tory agenda. That's not just me talking either, GP's and job centre staff have told me the same.
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  #26  
Old 13th January 2012, 02:17
Within These Walls Within These Walls is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Aye, the whole assessment is fundamentally flawed. They cannot possibly accurately and adequately assess a person's mental state using that ridiculous sham. I was in the assessment room for just 15 mins and that 15 mins consisted of being asked the most irrelevant and crass questions, which bore little or no relevance to my issues, whilst some doctor sat there typing away on a computer.

I think they rely on the fact that a lot of people with mental health issues might not be strong enough to fight the decision, so a percentage of people will simply cave in and give up, which is what the Government and ATOS wants. That is a disgusting way to conduct things.
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  #27  
Old 13th January 2012, 02:31
Benfica Benfica is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Yep, it's disgusting. I know a person who was passed fit for work despite having debilitating mental health issues. They reduced this person's benefit to £15 per week for the whole 10 months it took for the appeal to go through. Absolutely scandalous when you consider the government says that the absolute minimum an adult needs to live on is the £67.50 the give in job seekers allowance.

Anyway, this person got welfare rights involved as an advocate and won the appeal. They also had all the back-pay due to them. Thing is though, so many people fall by the wayside and cave in. The really vulnerable with little support maybe simply aren't up to the fight. The weak, sick, vulnerable are such an easy target.

The 'assessment' is a complete farce, and if I worked for ATOS I'd have great trouble sleeping at night knowing I was basically lying and cheating vulnerable people out of the support they need. I'm all for getting the frauds off benefit, but hey, support the genuine cases rather than heaping more misery upon them.
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  #28  
Old 13th January 2012, 02:50
nineofswords nineofswords is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benfica
Thing is though, so many people fall by the wayside and cave in. The really vulnerable with little support maybe simply aren't up to the fight.
I felt quite disheartened by the decision from the assessment. and I get feelings like that often, feeling defeated. I very nearly didn't appeal or fight the decision. initially I decided to take no action but then after some encouragement I changed my mind and had to reapply for a tribuneral. the whole thing was a rollercoaster of emotions really,this was when I wasn't on meds to stabilise my moods and the process was causing me to get really depressed and worry excessively everytime there was a setback or something took a turn for the worst along the way.
the cab were excellent at helping me out, was sad that I couldn't tell them good news that all their great help had been successful...
was also upset to hear that the government are going to be cutting the amount of free help we are entitled to,from what i've read it could suggest that in the future it will be a lot more difficult to get support.looks like the government are doing all they can to try and punish us.
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  #29  
Old 13th January 2012, 03:03
indielad indielad is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

i went through an appeal once was a disaster (for ib), currently still claiming esa, at the last 'assessment' i basically just described how i would be at my worst i also took notes with me because when i failed i just went blank and said i was fine! of course the assessor thought this was great and signed me off straight away
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  #30  
Old 13th January 2012, 10:20
Hopper Hopper is offline
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Default Re: Employment Support Allowance and Social Anxiety

Will be having one done during or after April, dreading it now after reading this.
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