ATOS denies benefits to our wounded servicemen

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

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 benefits tribunal.

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 firm

AS USUAL I HAVE A FEW 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 Afghanistan?

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?

Yours faithfully,

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Anger as record number of maimed troops are denied disability benefit in Government's controversial assessments

Hundreds of injured ex-soldiers declared fit for work by Atos Healthcare
Royal British Legion announce rise in soldiers having claims rejected
Soldiers forced to undergo demeaning physical tests by firm

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Leading veterans’ charities have slammed the UK government’s crackdown on welfare benefits, which is affecting former army war veterans, who are now disabled.

Severely wounded veterans that took part in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were once entitled to incapacity benefits and are now being told they no longer qualify.

These controversial judgments have pushed thousands of ex-soldiers to the breadline.

The chief executive of the Veterans Charity, Danny Greeno said, “It is becoming an unbearable situation. It should not be happening to people who have served their country. The people doing these assessments need to be properly qualified.”

Greeno added that many of these ex-soldiers are already on the breadline and that most of them are unable to work as they suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder.

An example shows 35 year-old Mark Dryden, who lost his right arm due to a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was awarded incapacity benefit in 2008 but had it withdrawn this year under the coalition government’s measures of savage cuts to the benefit system.

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Caithness Courier

Ex-soldier on hunger strike after benefits axed

Written byWill Clark
MP John Thurso

A FORMER soldier who served his country for 13 years and was left disabled has gone on hunger strike after his benefits were withdrawn due to mistakes he claims were made by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff in Wick.

The man, who lives in Caithness but cannot be identified for security reasons, said mistakes made at its Girnigoe Street office have left him and his partner struggling to survive.

And until he gets back what he claims he is entitled to – employment and support allowance payments – he intends maintaining his fast, surviving only on fluids.

During a meeting at the Wick DWP office in 2011, he was informed his incapacity benefit payments would be changed to the Employment and Support Allowance scheme (ESA).

The 52-year-old has received incapacity benefits since 1991 due to injuries he suffered including prolapsed discs, fused vertebrae, restless leg syndrome, dropped foot and depression – conditions verified by medical certificates from two orthopaedic consultants, a consultant psychiatrist and a GP.

He claims he was told his payments would continue as normal and he would automatically be put into the support group.

A year later, he was informed his payments of £500 a month were being stopped as he was no longer deemed eligible. As one year had passed since he was informed about the change to ESA, he was no longer entitled to appeal to ATOS Healthcare, which carries out work capability assessments which decide claims.

"In 2011, the assistant manager told me there was nothing to worry about, the dates of my payments would continue as normal and I didn’t need to do anything," he said.

"A year on, I got a letter from the Jobcentre that my 365 days to appeal had passed and, as I am not in the support group bracket, I was no longer entitled to my allowance.

"This was the first time I was made aware that I had to appeal. I should have been in the support group since day one and have four medical certificates to prove it, but I was not asked to provide anything."

Last month, when he went back to the Wick office, he said he was told a mistake had been made.

He refused to leave until the mistake was rectified, but ended up being escorted out of the building by police.

"The staff said they couldn’t do anything," he said.

"I refused four times to leave until somebody sorted it out. It’s their responsibility to ensure staff are fully trained and don’t give out the wrong advice."

As his wife works more than 24 hours a week, they are not entitled to housing benefit but they have cancelled paying council tax, water bills and their TV licence until he is paid what he claims is due to him.

"There are people who do abuse the system, but I’ve got four medical consultants who have written I’ll never work again," he said.

"I haven’t eaten since Saturday and if it takes me to starve to death to show the incompetence of Wick DWP, that’s what I’ll do."

A spokesman for the DWP said ESA replaced the previous incapacity benefit scheme as it was more effective to help people able to work to find employment and to support those unable to work.

But he added: "We are willing to look into the case and if there has been a mistake we will do what we can to resolve the issue."

Far north MP John Thurso has been heavily involved in the man’s case and is calling on the DWP and ATOS Healthcare to act quickly to resolve the complaint, failing which he will contact Works and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith.

"Everybody has the right to know what is happening in regard to their benefits and if the gentleman didn’t get the required information, then that is wrong," he said.

"When we tried to appeal on his behalf, at every level ATOS Healthcare didn’t rule on the quality of the appeal – they ruled on the time bar.

"This has not been come about by policy, but by administrative incompetence – the Government policy intends this gentleman to be on ESA.

"We have asked the gentleman to make a fresh application with the support of his doctor about his change of circumstances.

"If we cannot find a resolution by the end of the next week, I will be raising his case with the Secretary of State."

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