Claimants not eligible for ESA or JSA

A C Smithson made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The work capability assessment determines fitness for work at a level that is much lower than the level required for any real job. As a result, some claimants who may be found fit for work under the work capability assessment (and therefore ineligible for ESA) may not be fit enough to meet the conditions required for claiming JSA. I have come across some claimants in this position.

1. Is any data being kept on these number of claimants? If there is, please provide data for Sept 2011 to Aug 2012 by month and category of disability/medical condition. If no data is being kept, please give reason(s).

2. What financial support is provided by the DWP to claimants stuck between ESA and JSA?

3. What steps are being taken to bridge the gap between the ESA and JSA processes?

Yours faithfully,

A C Smithson

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DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

Our Ref: VTR 3401

Dear Mr Smithson,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Request of 3 September 2012.
You asked:

The work capability assessment determines fitness for work at a
level that is much lower than the level required for any real job.
As a result, some claimants who may be found fit for work under the
work capability assessment (and therefore ineligible for ESA) may
not be fit enough to meet the conditions required for claiming JSA.
I have come across some claimants in this position.

1. Is any data being kept on these number of claimants? If there
is, please provide data for Sept 2011 to Aug 2012 by month and
category of disability/medical condition. If no data is being kept,
please give reason(s).

We do not hold the requested statistics as a person cannot be in a
position where they are ineligible for Employment and Support Allowance
(ESA) and not fit enough to meet the conditions required for claiming
Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).

A person can claim JSA even when they have a fit note from a doctor or
other medical practitioner. A determination, following a Work Capability
Assessment, that a person does not have limited capability for work is
based on what an individual can do, rather than simply a diagnosis of
their medical condition. The determination applies across the social
security system, including JSA. Jobseekers may, however, restrict their
availability for work in the light of their condition.

2. What financial support is provided by the DWP to claimants stuck
between ESA and JSA?

If a person is found not to have limited capability for work they can
request a reconsideration of the disallowance and, if the decision is
not revised in their favour, they can appeal. While awaiting the outcome
of the appeal they can receive the assessment rate of ESA, as long as
they provide medical evidence of limited capability for work.
Alternatively, they are able to claim JSA.

3. What steps are being taken to bridge the gap between the ESA and
JSA processes?

The benefit rules ESA and JSA, as determined by legislation, are not
identical and require the claimant to provide different information.
This means that when a person moves from ESA to JSA, or vice versa, the
information currently held by the department will not be sufficient to
process their new claim. This is because the current claim process only
asks for information relevant to the benefit which is being applied for.

Wherever possible, information already held on the Department's systems
which is common to both benefits is re-used. This allows claimants to
complete a much shorter new claim gather, focussing just on the
information which is different. We are currently investigating ways in
which this transition can be improved, including extending the shortened
claim gather process to a wider range of claimants.

In future, Universal Credit will provide a new single system of
means-tested support for working-age people who are in or out of work.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

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If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may
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Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have
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be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk

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Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

Thank you for your response. You haven't answered my questions.

In your response to Q1, you wrote that 'We do not hold the requested statistics as a person cannot be in a position where they are ineligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and not fit enough to meet the conditions required for claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).'

In FoI response VTR3238, you referred to a DWP research publication (http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rpor.... Table 4.1 of that publication shows what claimants did immediately after their claims ended. For those who were found fit for work 76% claimed another benefit or went back to their old job or got some form of employment. Of the others:
- 2% were supported by partner or family/living off savings
- 2% were unemployed/looking for work
- 1% were still too sick to work
- 4% continued without benefits

So at least 7% who were found fit for work were neither claiming any benefits nor being supported by partner/family or savings. Based on the high success rate at appeal, the WCA hasn't been a reliable determinant for fitness for work so just because the WCA says they are fit for work does not mean that there is any realistic chance of them looking for a job, let alone getting one. Therefore they would not be able to meet the requirements for JSA. Not everyone can face the stress of an ESA appeal.

You haven't answered any of my questions.

Yours sincerely,

A C Smithson

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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A C Smithson left an annotation ()

In their response, the DWP claims that 'a person cannot be in a position where they are ineligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and not fit enough to meet the conditions required for claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)'.

Really? A Citizens Advice Bureau in the west of Scotland referred a woman with diabetes for a food parcel because she was left without benefits for weeks as a result of delays. The woman has been using a wheelchair for almost a year because of a degenerative disease linked to her diabetes. She applied for employment and support allowance (ESA) but was classed as fit for work and was told to apply for jobseeker’s allowance (JSA). When she made the JSA application, the woman was then told she was indeed not fit for work and should reapply for ESA. Although she had made the claim three weeks before, she was told it could take another 14 days to process her application. As well as referring her for a food parcel, bureau staff asked the DWP to deal with her benefit claim as a matter of urgency." (Case Study 2 at http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ca....

Citizens Advice Scotland has published their response for the third Capability Assessment independent review. It has many examples of the anxiety caused by the WCA (See http://www.cas.org.uk/publications/work-...

Who are the DWP trying to fool?

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Smithson

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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J Newman left an annotation ()

A nonsense indeed! The mobility element of the WCA involves a surreptitious wheelchair evaluation and the result could quite well be that the HCP & Decision Maker decide that your mobility would be better with a wheelchair than without one and score points accordingly. Neither of them are required to advise this conclusion so all you knows is the points awarded – NOT exactly on what the score has been based.
Even if they are right (???), you still have to go through a formal wheelchair assessment to obtain one which could take months and indeed you may “fail” it.

So Catch 22 – you can’t claim ESA as you have been declared FFW (albeit with the use of a wheelchair), but you cannot (at least for a while) get one and so are unavailable for work and therefore ineligible for JSA.

Michael Buckland left an annotation ()

My husband is in this very same position. No points awarded from going from Incapacity to ESA [their decesion not ours] and NIL points and told to sign on for Job seekers allowance. He is unable to work due to haveing both feet crushed by a three ton lorry bed and has been unable to work for 8 years. He now has diabetes and sometimes unable to even get up out of a chair. He uses a walking stick. We do not live on a bus route and yet he will have to go and sign on every fortnight. How is he meant to walk to a bustop when the bus stop is nealry 2-3 miles away?? DLA was agreed indefinately and Industrail Injury is for life. He can not read and write. How can people like this work when there are thousands of poeple able bodied who can not even find work. It is dicrimating against the sick and diabled people and something has to be done.

Karyn Adams left an annotation ()

@Michael Buckland
You should try and get the press/your local paper to write about your situation. Everybody needs to know about what is really going on and what is being done to the sick and disabled in the name of ''Austerity''. Horror stories like yours need to be heard.

A C Smithson left an annotation ()

Karyn, there have been so many cases highlighted in the media yet nothing has changed.

I don't think enough people appeal against erroneous reports by Atos and questionable decisions by the DWP. Everyone who feels they've been wrongly found fit for work should appeal. When the tribunal system is bogged down with appeals, they'll start complaining. Hopefully, that will bring the assessment process under close scrutiny.

J Newman left an annotation ()

There is nothing currently that holds HCPs performing erroneous WCAs to account. DWP uses lame and dishonest excuses about them not having all the relevant information to explain this away. Sadly the GMC has not exactly been proactive in dealing with this, but will deal with complaints against individual doctors. If doctors see an accusation of misconduct as a viable risk, they will think twice about what they are doing.

Susan Jones left an annotation ()

You can no longer claim basic rate ESA whilst waiting for a mandatory review from DWP. There is no time limit of how long the DWP can take to produce their reconsidered decision, and you cannot appeal until they have. see here - http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/01...

D Robinson left an annotation ()

...The thing is there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO (believe me I have tried) a relative of mine was not even examined by the ATOS nurse at his assessment (due to the pain that he was in) AND YET HE WAS FIND FIT FOR WORK (just like Richard III)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21...
We KNOW we won't get anywhere with all our appeals and proof of illness -- AS THEY DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!!
BECAUSE THE GOVT IS THAT CORRUPT!!!
BUT STILL WE FIGHT!!!! The appeals are costing millions and will be billions soon and this seems our only recourse at the moment.
This Govt have copied the USA in their treatment of the sick and disabled and very soon their actions will come crashing down on them!!!

L Clarkson left an annotation ()

My son has just had a medical and been found fit for work. He can't leave the house unless I go with him and as I work full time I have to take time off if he needs to go anywhere. He has been waiting 8 months for counseling. We are going to appeal as there is no way he cam claim jsa as he was told to as he can't say he is capable of work. The stress o both of us not to mention the financial hardship is awful. The decision maker actually told my son that most people who actually turn up for the medical are found fit for work!!! Outrageous! L Clarkson

susan left an annotation ()

still going on today - i had a work capacity medical assessment a few weeks ago where i scored 0 points - you have to score 15 to remain on ESA and went for my jsa interview and the job coach has said that i am unable to claim as i am not well enough to apply for a job therefore cannot be a job seeker. i have now handed it over to my MP to support me.

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