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Craig's assessment nightmare

The CAB is often a port of call for people left confused and lost by poor administration and benefit changes that can damage their lives.  Thankfully, in Craig's case we see that a citizens advice bureau was able to pull him back from the brink: 

Craig suffers from severe anxiety, mental health problems and a number of physical issues.  As a result he has not been able to work for many years.  He rarely leaves his house, and never goes out alone.  He struggles to cope with everyday life and consequently has few friends. he relies on his family to help him get food and cook meals.  

He recently had an assessment for Employment and Support Allowance.   The assessor did not follow up on any of the difficulties that Craig talked about in his assessment during the discussion, or consider the reasons for his various referrals to mental health services.  Following the assessment he was told he had been awarded no points, meaning that they found nothing that might make him eligible for the benefit.  He visited his local CAB, deeply worried about how he was going to get by now as he felt incapable of being able to work. 

The CAB adviser wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions asking them to reconsider their decision, and identified specific areas that affected Craig’s day-to-day life.  The adviser estimated that Craig should have received 30 points during the assessment, double the minimum 15 points need to receive the benefit.  They also put in a complaint about the medical assessor. 

The DWP agreed with the CAB adviser and Craig not only received his benefit award, but was placed in the support group, for people with the highest level of need. 

Nevertheless, the whole process has been extremely stressful for Craig, and has significantly added to his mental health problems.  He is continuing to receive support from the CAB and his GP.

6 Aug 2014