To: Mr Geoffrey Reynolds
20 June 2013
Dear Mr Reynolds,
Freedom of Information Act – Request for Information
Our Reference: FoI 2631
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 8 June 2013. You stated:
Most human beings would really cringe when reading the attached story, sadly the DWP ARE
STEALING THE BENEFITS OF OUR SOLDIERS, WOUNDED IN ACTION;
Daily Mail online 1 June 2013
A record number of wounded war veterans have been denied disability benefits in the past year
after undergoing tests carried out by the Government’s controversial assessment company.
Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers are being declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare in spite of
physical and mental injuries they suffered in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last night, the Royal British Legion (RBL) announced a 72 per cent annual rise in former
soldiers having their applications to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA) turned down.
Several hundred wounded personnel were denied the benefit on the basis of physical
examinations conducted by Atos, according to the RBL.
The company is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess benefits
claimants’ capability to work.
In one case, Lance Corporal Mark Dryden, 35 – a former member of the Royal Regiment of
Fusiliers who, after an explosion in Iraq, lost his right arm and the full use of his left – was asked
by Atos assessors if he was left or right-handed. He is now taking his case against the DWP to a
That case, and others, have led to accusations that Atos Healthcare is under intense pressure to
produce assessments that enable the Government to reject benefits claims.
Servicemen suffering from the mental scars of combat also complain that they have been turned
down for disability benefits.
Many injured troops have also described having to undergo demeaning physical tests by the
You asked the following 12 questions:
1/ Prior to our troops being sent into combat situations, where they risked their lives for Queen
and country, did the DWP make it clear to them that in the event of injury they would face having
their benefits refused?
2/ Are ATOS trained in recognising the mental scars of combat?
3/ How many of our brave fighting forces have been declined ESA since the invasion of Iraq and
4/ What percentage have been declined ESA on mental grounds?
5/ What percentage on physical grounds?
6/ How many have appealed as a result of their ESA being refused?
7/ Has the DWP been approached by any organisations that represent the wounded troops
(such as the ROYAL BRITISH LEGION)?
8/ Will you release transcripts of any of the aforesaid, approaches?
9/ The very fact that an ATOS HCP asked whether a soldier was right or left handed after one of
his arms was blown off and losing full use of the other, is further evidence that ATOS IS NOT
FIT FOR PURPOSE! Why was this pathetic question asked?
10/ How were injuries to military personnel assessed prior to ATOS?
11/ How many were refused invalidity benefits prior to ATOS?
12/ WHAT INCENTIVE WOULD THERE BE FOR A YOUNG PERSON TO ENLIST FOR THE
ARMED FORCES ONLY TO COME BACK WOUNDED AND BE DENIED APPROPRIATE
WELFARE TO HELP EASE THE BURDEN OF THEIR INJURIES?
Atos Healthcare will assess both the physical and mental “scars of combat” and are
able to assess the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Servicemen discharged from the
Forces are entitled to a pension when their disability was caused or aggravated by service. For
those who claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a physical examination is a small
part of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process and people are only asked to do what
they can and what is comfortable, with their specific consent. Ex-armed forces personnel who
claim ESA are likely to have a variety of health conditions both physical and mental health
related. The WCA would identify these as part of the existing WCA process.
Anyone wishing to claim ESA will undergo the WCA process. The WCA is based on the premise
that eligibility should not be based on a person’s medical condition, but rather on the way that
their medical condition limits their functional capability. Following the WCA, Atos Healthcare
provides a medical report to the DWP. The DWP Decision Maker considers the Atos Healthcare
advice as well all other available evidence.
A new Ministry of Defence (MOD) scheme called the Armed Forces Independence Payment has
been introduced for working age customers who have been seriously injured as a result of
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is about the provision of recorded information held by the
Department. This does not include providing explanations or entering into debate about
incentives for armed forces.
Your questions about the number of DWP benefit claims, disallowances and appeals,
specifically about ex-servicemen is not held by the Department. DWP does not ask for military
information in the Limited Capability Assessment questionnaire (ESA50) or any other form,
although the ESA50 does allow the individual to explain about their condition and how they
In reply to Q7, you asked specifically about the DWP being approached. It is confirmed that
every DWP Jobcentre district has a named “Armed Forces Champion”. Champions work with
the MOD Career Transition Partnership, and link with providers and charities giving specialist
support, such as the Royal British Legion.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number above.
Business Management Team
Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)
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