For the last few months Joe and I have been looking at the processes ATOS are using to select their victims. There are 3 catagories;
A face to face assessment (F2F)
The Work Related Activity Group of ESA (WRAG)
The Support Group of ESA (SG)
When you ESA50 lands on the desk of the HCP carrying out the postal reviews you will be placed in one of these groups, this is what we think happens.
Face to face assessment
If you have no previous record with ATOS you will be called in for a face to face assessment. They do not know you and thus do not trust you regardless of the evidence of sickness/disability you provide. They can not afford to miss a trick and so will likely as not call you in. After your F2F the HCP will decide your destination by awarding a number of points, 15 means you get to keep your benefits. Any less means you are considered fit for work, though they are careful not to use these words.
The Work Related Activity Group (WRAG)
The WRAG has 2 sections they are
If you have previous with ATOS and they know you will appeal they may choose to place you straight into the WRAG without a F2F. The decision to put you in the Contributions based WRAG means your ESA will be time limited to 12 months, that means if you have been in receipt of ESA 3 months prior to the decision to place you in the WRAG being made, you have only 9 months of ESA left before you lose your entitlement and someone else i.e your partner has to keep you because they are earning more than £149.00 per week.
You will also be required to attend 5 back to work reviews where you will be advised of the help available to assist you back to work. You may be required to attend training programmes at the whim of your advisor.
This is similar to income support. Long story short, your needs and those of your partner if you have one are compared with your resources, such as your income and savings, and the income-related allowance worked out from this comparison.
You cannot get income-related ESA if your capital or savings (or you and your partner’s capital or savings) is above an upper savings limit of £16,000.
Your benefit will also be affected if your capital or savings (or you and your partner’s capital or savings) is above a lower savings limit of £6,000. If you are permanently in a care home this lower limit is £10,000.
If you need extra money to look after a child, you should claim child tax credit.
The Support Group
If it is decided that you have a limited capability for work-related activity, you will be placed in the support group. If you are placed in this group, you will not have to undertake work-related activities (though you can volunteer to do so if you want).
Time limiting of contribution based ESA (CESA)
From April 2012, if you are in the work related activity group (WRAG) you can only get contribution based ESA for one year. This time limit includes any time you were getting contribution based ESA before April 2012.
Depending upon your family income and/or capital levels, it is possible that when your contribution based ESA ends, you will become entitled to one or more means tested benefits such as income related ESA, housing benefit or council tax benefit.
So how does the scam work?
ATOS and the DWP collude to ensure those who are more likely to lose their entitlement to ESA under time limiting are placed in the WRAG.
At the end of 12 months (including any period of time before the rule was brought in April 2012) entitlement to ESA ends. This has several beneficial effects for ATOS and the DWP
Waiting lists and for ATOS are reduced.
Recurring assessments are no longer necessary reducing the backlog further.
The DWP have a legal reason to suspend benefits at the end of the 12 month time limiting period.
The numbers in receipt of sickness benefits falls
Presto chango all of a sudden all is well for the Government, we suffer as a result of this dreadful con.
What can we do?
We can at least ensure ATOS and the DWP work hard if they are going to deny our benefits. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being placed in the WRAG Contributory ESA and you believe you should be in the Support group Contributory ESA, contact the DWP and ask for the ESA 85 report, the score sheet and a GL 24 appeal form and appeal to be placed in the Support group immediately.