Hope For ESA Claimers!

Here in the U.K. if you are unable to work due to your chronic illness, the government provide monetary help. This money is to help you live & get the help you need; there are different categories of help, that are connected to different sections of the government. The main ones are Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) & Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

PIP is money to help a person live their life from day to day & pay for carers or home aids to enable a person to have a better quality of life within the limits of their situation.
ESA is connected to employment (obviously) & helping people find jobs or getting back to work. It's split into different groups & there are requirements you have to meet within the group you qualify for.

With both these, the person claiming has to complete a lengthy form detailing their condition(s) & how it(they) effect your daily life. After that, you'll usually receive a letter saying you have to go for a medical assessment. This is basically a face to face version of the form you've already completed & for a good hour you are basically made to feel like you have to prove how ill you are & how your chronic illness stops you from working & needing the extra help.

Having been though two of these assessments, I can tell you they're not fun! The anxiety & stress they bring from the moment you receive the letter is unbearable, heightened by the actual assessment experience makes the condition(s) you're already dealing with much worse & then, if Post Exertion Malaise is a characteristic of your illness, (as it is with mine) you will usually end up being bed bound for a good week after.

To top it off, you can go through all of that & receive a letter telling you you're either not eligible or your "fit for work" & have to begin the process of looking for a job. There is an appeal system & with  more stress & anxiety, you can have your case looked at again & hopefully get the decision changed. (This process is started by a phone call to the relevant department & asking for a "reconsideration")

Now I'm not exactly sure if reassessments are necessary when you are claiming PIP (as I was refused that) but with ESA Support Group, you are required to have a medical assessment every two years to prove that you are still unable to work. So when your two years of claiming comes along, you're again sent a form to fill in & send back, along with any medical evidence you have & letters from anyone that's caring for you. As with the first time you are claiming, the outcome is uncertain & you're not guaranteed to continue receiving the monetary help you need.

Now I was due to have my next assessment on the 10th October & was in a worsening state of stress & anxiety the closer the date got!

However, a week or so before my assessment, the BBC broke the news that the powers that be have finally listened to the Chronically ill of the country & decided to axe the re-assessment process for those in the ESA Support Group! (Article here) This news was met with happiness but also with an element of uncertainty... "Would my condition be included?"

Many chronic illnesses are fluctuating from one day to the next & certain illnesses, like M.E, have different levels to them so have differing levels of activity that a person may be able to do. However, all Chronic illnesses are life long (shown by the word chronic!) so would these fluctuating illnesses be included? What about mental illnesses, would they also come under the same category?

Obviously, there's still many unknowns to this change & unless I've missed it, there hasn't been a list released sighting which illnesses this would be applicable to. Now I don't normally touch on things like this but the reason I wanted to highlight it was to bring some hope...

A few days after the news article, I received a letter saying my medical assessment had been cancelled & they would no longer need to see me! To say I was happy is an understatement & I'm not ashamed to say I cried many, many, MANY happy tears! (As did my mum!) I have also received another "Brown Envelope of Doom" (which usually sends shivers up my spine as I open them) & it didn't contain doom! It was confirming that due to the recent changes to ESA, they've gone back over my information & have left me in the Support Group!

I am classed as having Moderate to Severe M.E & also have Anxiety & Depression. So hopefully all of you out there claiming ESA & in the Support Group that have similar fluctuating conditions may no longer be required to have re-assessments in order to continue receiving the monetary help that you deserve!

I hope you are all doing well & today is being kind to you,

Take care,

L x