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Client story: No benefits for eight weeks after missing an appointment

Sara approached her local CAB after losing her benefits.  She had missed a work capability assessment for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) as her disabled husband's carer failed to turn up and she did not want to leave him on his own. Sara phoned the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) to explain her reasons for not attending.  However her benefit was stopped and on contacting the DWP again she was told to complete a form and return it. Sara explained that her husband was in a wheelchair and was unable to dress himself but the DWP did not feel that was a good enough reason for failing to attend. Sara lodged an appeal herself against this decision.

At the point she visited her local Citizens Advice Bureau, Sara had not had any benefit for eight weeks. The bureau contacted the DWP about Sara’s case and were redirected to Atos (who carry out the work capability assessments) who redirected back to the DWP.  The bureau phoned the DWP again and were advised that the DWP decision maker would then phone the client. That was when Sara said she had no means of being contacted by phone as she had recently sold her mobile phone to buy food. The bureau arranged an alternative method of communication and helped the client to make a formal complaint against both Atos and the DWP.

With help from the CAB adviser, Sara was also referred to a foodbank as she had no money to feed herself and her husband; and she also applied for a Crisis Grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund, although she was told she was only entitled to one application. Sara has also put in a new claim for ESA but will have to wait for new work capability assessment appointment before any payments are made.

9 Jul 2013