Here to help with questions relating to learning disability and its impact on family carers
“There have been a number of changes recently to the benefits that learning disabled adults receive if they are unable to have a paid job. In the past if you were unable to work you received disability benefits such as incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance, but these benefits are currently being phased out and replaced with Employment Support Allowance. All new claimants have been assessed for ESA for some time now and existing Incapacity Benefit recipients will be migrated over to the new benefit in the near future. The process for re-assessment following notification from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is done in two stages the first being the completion of a “limited capability for work questionnaire”, like the PIP assessment form which we detailed in the last issue of Resnews, the form asks for information on how your disability affects you and covers both physical and mental/cognitive and intellectual functions as follows:
● Standing and sitting
● Picking up and moving things
● Manual dexterity
● Making yourself understood
● Understanding communication
● Learning tasks
● Awareness of everyday hazards
● Initiating and completing personal action
● Coping with change
● Getting about
● Coping with social engagement
● Appropriateness of behaviour with other people
Points are awarded in each category and a score of 15 points or more is required to prove a limited capability for work and therefore qualify for ESA.
The second part of the Work Capability Assessment considers whether you have a ”limited capability for work related activity”. Although the wording is similar the second part has a different function. It determines whether you are placed in the work related activity group or the support group. The group you are placed in determines the level of ESA you receive, the responsibilities you must meet to retain the benefit and whether or not your ESA award may be time limited. Again points are awarded based on the information provided.
Your completed questionnaire is assessed by by a DWP-approved healthcare professional who considers all the evidence provided and may request further information from your GP and /or ask you to attend a face-to-face assessment. The face-to-face assessment will take place at an examination centre, and will be conducted by a healthcare professional from a company called Maximus who currently have the contract to deliver the WCA. The healthcare professional will ask for more details on how your disability affects you and may require you to undertake tasks to illustrate your difficulties. We at Rescare would recommend that you take someone with you such as a family member or friend who can assist with information and also take notes. It may be worth asking if you can record the session as there have been numerous complaints that the reports submitted to the DWP following examinations were not an accurate reflection of what actually happened during the examination. If you feel that the report submitted to the DWP, and therefore the subsequent decision made by them is wrong there is an appeals process.
Work Related Activity Group
If you are found not to have a limited capability for work related activity, you are placed in the work related activity group. In this group you must meet work-related conditions, including attending work-focused interviews and possibly attending work-related activity. If you fail to meet the conditions, your ESA payment may be reduced. If you are placed in the work related activity group, you receive a lower level of ESA than if placed in the support group.
If you are found to have a limited capability for work-related activity, you are placed in the support group. In this group you do not have to undertake any work-related activities, although you can volunteer to. If you are placed in the support group, you receive a higher rate of ESA.
If you feel that the decision made is wrong i.e. you have been placed in the work related activity group but you feel you should be in the support group, you must first ask for a reconsideration of the decision. If following a reconsideration you still feel that the decision is incorrect you can appeal against the decision.
The appeal is heard by a first-tier tribunal , which is made up of members who are independent of the DWP. Prior to the hearing it is important that you assemble any supporting evidence e.g. medical reports and that you are well prepared. The tribunal will make its decision based on all evidence that is presented.
The above is only intended to be a brief guide, If you need any help or advice with any issue relating to benefits please contact Helen in the Rescare office either by phone on 0161 474 7323 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.”