Thursday 28 April 2011

Abandoned Claims

Originally posted at This Is My Blog in response to a Daily Mail article. Unfortunately, today, the Telegraph and the BBC got in on the act...

Woke up this morning to see that a certain right-wing rag has surpassed itself in the propaganda it chooses to spout about ESA.

I'm not going to link to it because it will only upset me and every reader.

The headline asserted that 75% of those who claim ESA are found "fit to work".

This was then broken down that 75% of those who claim ESA were either found "fit to work" or abandoned their claims before testing was complete. It proposed that the abandonment of a claim meant that the claimant was clearly "trying it on".

Legitimate reasons why an ESA claim may be started and then abandoned:
  • The claimant dies.

  • The claimant gets better, be it a miracle or a new treatment or being bumped up the waiting list for surgery or getting private treatment.

  • The claimant, having lost their job, is offered support and a place to stay by their parents or their children. They decide to abandon their claim and re-start it once their move is complete.

  • The claimant looks at the highly personal questions on the form and says "you know what, I'll never be this desperate for money, prostitution is less demeaning."

  • The claimant wins an insurance or compensation payout that enables them to survive without benefits.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to understand the importance of filling in the form or unable to remember that the form needs doing.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to fill out the forms - perhaps they have a brain injury or learning disability and cannot read and/or write, perhaps they have issues with their hands and cannot physically hold a pen, perhaps they have a mental health condition that causes panic attacks every time they approach the form.

  • Due to their condition, the claimant is unable to access support to fill in the forms - for instance they are unable to go out, they do not yet have formal Social Services support, and their CAB is overstretched with permanently engaged phone lines (I have personal experience of urgently needing to get to the CAB but having to wait until support is available).

  • The claimant completed the form, but due to their condition, they are unable to travel to and from the medical examination centre alone, and they are unable to secure help and/or funding to allow them to attend. Because their level of impairment does not exist until ATOS say it does, this is not a valid excuse for non-attendance. (I had this issue with my DLA a few years ago).

  • The claimant is sitting at home with the heating off, desperately waiting to hear back from the DWP about their claim, which the DWP has lost.

If it was any other publication (I hesitate to use the term "newspaper") I would be shocked and appalled by the deliberate lies and misinformation being used to attack disabled people. Unfortunately, I'm getting used to it, and so is everyone else, and all these little drops of poison are being allowed to drip on into the public consciousness unchallenged.

A useful comment was also added to the original post, by a commenter called Nemonie:
There is also the fact that if you are on JSA and become ill or need surgery, break your leg etc. So that you are considered not able to look for work they will tell you to open a claim for ESA until you are better, which may only be a few weeks. You can also apply for ESA if you work and get ill but don't get statutory sick pay or have run out of statutory sick pay. Again in this case you may only need to claim for a short time.


  1. Yes, you don't get to assessment for a couple of months, usually, I think. A lot of illnesses last for less than a couple of months. Great post.

  2. Equally the system mandates that people will be placed on ESA if they are made redundant due to illness or disability, even if their disability would only exclude them from a narrow range of jobs (for instance ones which involve driving). The reality is that they may well find alternate work quickly, and that the WCA will almost certainly place them onto JSA, and that this is the way that the system was designed to work. Yet the DWP and Grayling deliberately spin this as evidence of fraudulent intent.

  3. The fraudulent intent clearly belongs to the DWP and Chris Grayling. Seriously. In my view there should be criminal charges being brought about all this, it's an obvious fraud.


  4. It isn't a right-wing thing; The Guardian had the same headline:

    I guess journalism these days is just about copying out press releases!

  5. Related to the "highly personal questions" thing; it's not just prostitution people could turn to. People could decide to survive on their spouse's income. Including people who are nearing the end of their working life and have paid NI contributions that whole time and are damn well entitled to claim that back.