My mind and body slowly begun to breakdown and while in Hertford Mind the other service users were bringing my awareness into the fact that I was maybe having a breakdown and should change my benefit claim from Jobseekers onto ESA. The thought scared me and I resisted until I was so ill I knew I needed to slow down. Still undiagnosed I went to the doctor for some tablets to calm me down. It wasn’t until I reached crisis point in Jan 2013 that I pushed for a diagnosis. Then came the dreaded ATOS test. I attended Hertford Mind for emotional support and picked up around me that there was a general feeling of negativity towards the changes in the benefits system. There were people around me who had had their lifetime awards taken away and there was a lot of confusion and anxiety towards the changes. I was told by most people that there was no chance on passing the test, this put me under a lot of stress as I knew I could no longer cope supporting myself, I had built up a lot of debt and was still sleeping on a mattress on the floor things were tough.
Case Study Two
I went for my ATOS test and to my surprise I did not gain any points. I was seen by this person who to me did not look like she had any medical qualifications; she coldly went over the test questions with me. I had plenty of evidence from my doctor and psychiatrist this was all ignored, I was angry and frustrated my health both physical and mental were not in a very good state and I felt lost and hopeless. I had worked hard all my life and I thought the system would be there for me, I paid my taxes like I was told to do and I return I was promised financial aid. It feels like the money only goes to people that manage to blag the system and does not help the people that really need it.
Case Study One
I passed my ATOS test and was given 18 months I was so relived, for the first time since I lost my mother I felt supported, the money was not a lot but is was enough and it meant I could have a break and concentrate on my recovery. I was grateful. I did feel rather guilty at my support group though, there were people failing around me it was a stressful time.
Case Study Two
Both my ESA and DLA went to tribunal. I managed to get my ESA overruled and was given 18 months. The DLA tribunal was awful. There was myself my representative and 3 people on the panel. I gave them all the supporting evidence I had and I was still made to feel like I should be grateful for the minimum of help. I have a degenerate condition and I worry about the future and how I am going to manage. I feel I could be more supported.
Both participants are now receiving ESA and both work 10 hours a week earning up to the 101.00 threshold.
Have you had a similar experience? Can you offer any advice to others who are having these problems. Add you comments below.