Man in coma loses benefits as he's classified "fit for work"

Man in coma loses benefits as he's classified "fit for work"

The government's decision to crack down on the disabled took a bizarre turn this week after a man in a coma was stripped of his benefits - because he'd not handed his fitness-for-work questionnaire in.

In a thread on rightsnet.org.uk on Thursday Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit deputy manager Sam Harney noted:

Client’s husband is in hospital in a coma. He was sent ESA501.

Client contacted DWP to explain situation and was asked to obtain letter from hospital confirming he is in a coma. Did so. Was told to send it to ATOS rather than local BDC. Did so. Husband has now received decision letter – yep, as he has failed to return the ESA50 without good cause and is therefore capable of work [he is] no longer entitled to ESA…

The decision is part of a lengthening list of seemingly nonsensical judgements handed down by ATOS healthcare since it was appointed to oversee benefits claims in 2005 – another notable case is that of Larry Newman, who was told to stop slacking and get back to work despite having an incurable lung disease, which killed him just months after his assessment.

The firm has been targeted repeatedly over the last few years by campaigners under the banner ATOS KILLS, with activists pointing to a sharp rise in applications against the decisions being made, with 40% of appeals being successful overall rising to 70% where legal representation is used.

  • 1. ESA50 is the standard questionnaire handed out to disability benefit applicants

Posted By

Rob Ray
Jan 19 2012 17:26

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Rob Ray
Jan 19 2012 17:25

Oops dunno what happened to the URL there...

Ravineman
Jan 20 2012 01:25

WTF!
This left me speechless with anger.

antihero.
Jan 20 2012 09:53

Most likely because ATOS are scum. Perfect example of how stuff over here is farmed out to the private sector so the Tories can screw people more effectively.

Steven.
Jan 20 2012 10:28
antihero. wrote:
Most likely because ATOS are scum. Perfect example of how stuff over here is farmed out to the private sector so the Tories can screw people more effectively.

not defending the Tories, but wasn't it Labour who first got them involved in doing assessments? And the Tories have merely continued Labour policy? (I'm not 100% sure on my recollection of this, and don't have time to look it up properly now mind)

edited to add: had a quick look on the first mention I find is that they began trialling them in 2005 (http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/news-archive/178-atos-computer-controlled-nurses-to-replace-dla-doctors), then as far as I'm aware Labour's welfare bill in 2007 basically set up the current system, abolishing Disability Living Allowance and replacing it with the Employment Support Allowance, with medical testing

Ramona
Jan 20 2012 12:19

Steven you're right, but Disability Living Allowance hasn't been abolished or even tampered with much in terms of rates and so on - it's harder to get now and you be reassessed more often.

Employment Support Allowance replaced Income Support and Incapacity Benefit - these are being phased out (no new claims, people who were already claiming them being transferred onto either ESA or Job Seeker's Allowance).

You can get DLA alongside other benefits or if you're in work, it's not means tested.

Steven.
Jan 20 2012 13:22

Yes you're right, I got DLA and incapacity benefit mixed up. I believe it was also labour's plan to get everyone on incapacity benefit reassessed and move them on to ESA, which the Tories are just following through with

the button
Jan 20 2012 15:33
Steven. wrote:
I believe it was also labour's plan to get everyone on incapacity benefit reassessed and move them on to ESA, which the Tories are just following through with

True.

A friend of mine *with fucking multiple sclerosis for fuck's sake* got chucked off IB. Won her appeal, like, but her new claim is for ESA.

LeonC
Aug 17 2012 18:32

I had my Incapacity Benefit sanctioned because I failed to return my ESA50 back in time, they said in there letter to me that I was not entitled to ESA because of this which had it not been due to mitigating circumstances as below is fair enough as I will just apply again.

However they saw fit to stop my Incapacity Benefit which is not the benefit under question and never will be until I am transferred.

I did complain and requested a reconsideration which thankfully they accepted however it should never have got that far.

My letter below:

Dept for Work and Pensions
Jobcentre Plus
Hyde BC
Pittman Way
PRESTON
PR11 2AS

Your ref ...... 03rd July 2012

Re: Stopping of Migration from Incapacity Benefit to Employment Support Allowance.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please accept this letter to request that you reconsider you wrong decision to stop my Incapacity Benefit.

This ESA50 Form has now been returned to you although I do accept it was a few days late that was out of my control due to complex mental health issues I have after suffering an SAH Stroke and thus damage to my frontal and temporal lobes caused by blood starvation which gives me an impaired executive function.

Because my wife also cares for her mum and who lives with us I am sure you can appreciate we live hectic lives and thus with her mums ever increasing care needs she is not always around to prompt me.

I endeavoured to return this form to you as soon as possible but the form in it’s self was confusing to say the least and does not relate to the many mental health issues I have.

The time limit imposed to return forms is clearly not long enough for mental health claimants and one rule does not fit all.

If my rightful and just claim is stopped it will have a serious impact on us as a family unit because despite being entitled to mortgage interest relief we do not claim this and never have done it was a moral decision we took which we stand by because we do not believe it is the Governments roll to pay this as it was our choice to buy the council house for which was already discounted. However the incapacity benefit paid due to my wide ranging disabilities which was not a life choice goes a long way in meeting our mortgage payments.

I hope that you can see the decision you took was wrong and that I am not a scrounger as perceived by our wonderful Government who’s MP’s claim every expense under the sun including mortgage payments on second homes.

I appreciate your rules and regulations do not come from the many good civil servants reading these letters but from management and politicians above so I apologise if this letter is harsh in places but it has to be said because the WCA and ATOS are a farce and goes against all disability law both here and at the EU and UN.

Yours Sincerely

LeonC
Aug 17 2012 18:39

Whilst Labour started it and was piloting it in certain areas that still does not excuse the Con/Dems as they are using it with an avengance.

No they are getting rid of Incapacity Benefit and replacing it with ESA, Disability Living Allowance is still in force at the moment I say moment because it will be replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013

Lorna Taylor
Aug 17 2012 21:42

I think it's disgraceful what people like myself with genuine disabilities have to go through to get what we need to live on!!! The forms are extremely complicated to fill out and those medicals by ATOS are just a shambles!!! I had a terrible ordeal with one of their doctors!!! Absolutely disgusting that this poor man in a coma is deemed fit for work!!! Disgraceful!!!! It's about time the government get their act together and sort this shambles of a system out once and for all!!!

shug
Aug 17 2012 23:35
Quote:
Whilst Labour started it and was piloting it in certain areas that still does not excuse the Con/Dems as they are using it with an avengance

A couple of points: yes, Labour started it, but no, it wasn't piloted in certain areas - it was instituted nation-wide by Labour. And no-one is excusing the Con/Dems for continuing this attack on the vulnerable. Yes they are continuing it " with a vengence", but so too would Labour if they had stayed in power.
Lorna Taylor writes

Quote:
It's about time the government get their act together and sort this shambles of a system out once and for all!!!

. Her anger and outrage is absolutely correct, but she is missing the point. The government, Con/Dem or Labour, whichever faction is in power, is an expression of class rule. Their interests are NOT ours. In the face of a world-wide economic crisis, the ruling class, in every country, has only one option: to tighten the screws on the working class. That means everywhere, regardless of which bourgeois faction has political power, wages, which include the social wage (health-care, benefits, education etc), are under attack. We have to be careful not to fall for the Trot/leftist argument that this is down to Cameron/Osborne and the rest of them nasty Tory rich boys. This is class war - Labour's hiring of ATOS to attack the sick and disabled, just like their introduction of workfare to Britain, and just like the vicious attacks on workers in Greece and Spain being carried out by Labour governments up until recently, should remind us of that fact.

Beau Nafyde
Aug 18 2012 01:04

ConDemBNPLabGreenUKIP..... different arsehole; same shit.

louisetaylor72
Aug 18 2012 13:12

I had to got for an atos medical assessment for my e.s.a claim, the person I saw told me that as I was in considerable pain and he did not want me to suffer any more I could go home. Which I did. I later received the decision from the d.w.p claiming I was not entitled to e.s.a as I had refused the medical. I then had to spend 19 months appealing and was on the lowest rate payments to be told that I was entitled to it and was awarded e.s.a and put in the support group. This caused me a lot of stress and made me severally depressed, cost me a fortune in phone calls to chase up my appeal and as I had to move to a ground floor flat (as I was in a wheelchair and could no longer get upstairs) I was not entitled to a social fund loan or a grant so could not buy basic furniture and was forced to choose medication over food and paying bills. I have worked all my life and when I did need to claim benefits I was made to feel like a scrounger, instead I should have never worked a day in my life then I would have been offered anything I wanted.

fredwil
Aug 19 2012 10:26

Yes Steve, it was Labour who gave Atos the contract in 2008. Although, it was never meant to be used like the way the Tories are using it. The Tories are using Atos like Maggie T used the Poll Tax in the 80's. They say it's saving money, it isn't, it's costing them more money. Next April, ESA is being replaced with Universal Credit. This means everyone will again need to be assessed for that, again, more appeals, more mistakes by Atos and more cost to the country. AND we will have it yet again with DLA/PIP. Where the hell are we saving MONEY?

shug
Aug 19 2012 19:50
Quote:
Where the hell are we saving MONEY?

"We" ??????????????? This is about the ruling class saving money, or rather increasing the rate of exploitation by hacking back the social wage.
They are saving themselves huge amounts of money, despite the millions they're paying ATOS, by kicking people of IB and ESA, along with the millions they're saving by the tens of thousands of sanctions they've been imposing on the sick, disabled and vulnerable who miss (or are late for) a Work Related interview or bull-shit job-search appointment. Each sanction means a minimum of no benefit for two weeks, rising to six months. And next year the maximum sanction rises to three years.

Evelinev
Aug 19 2012 20:17

I keep wondering: if ATOS get 40% of their assessments wrong one way - declaring people fit for work who are NOT fit for work, do they get the same percentage wrong the other way - declaring people not fit for work when they actually are? Since those people are unlikely to complain, would that mean that they actually get 80% of their assessments wrong???

JoeMaguire
Aug 19 2012 21:14
louisetaylor72 wrote:
I have worked all my life and when I did need to claim benefits I was made to feel like a scrounger, instead I should have never worked a day in my life then I would have been offered anything I wanted.

I get your frustration and what the government is doing is callous, but your last sentence is actually part of their information offensive to try and portray claimants as a burden and surplus to requirement, rather than being about the contradictions of the market system we live under.

Steven.
Aug 19 2012 21:19
Evelinev wrote:
I keep wondering: if ATOS get 40% of their assessments wrong one way - declaring people fit for work who are NOT fit for work, do they get the same percentage wrong the other way - declaring people not fit for work when they actually are? Since those people are unlikely to complain, would that mean that they actually get 80% of their assessments wrong???

no, because the system has not been set up in order to give benefits to additional people, it has been set up precisely to remove them from as many as possible.

If any Atos assessor assesses too many people is not fit for work they have their cases "reviewed" by their managers. If they deny them from too many people they do not get reviewed: because the whole point is to deny benefits to people.

wojtek
Oct 13 2012 20:44
Quote:
Absurdity from #ATOS: my disabled patient expected to change 9 times in 60 minute journey for assessment

http://t.co/VpfhPeqg