Employment & Support Allowances – Claims and Appeals – The Point Of View Of A Professional

December 12, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Legal

The standard of the medical assessments carried out on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to determine entitlement to Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) still renders much to be desired, in accordance with the cases that I see.

To become eligible for ESA the candidate must meet 15 points threshold. Those that have been declined usually get advice to appeal their case yet still fail. However, it’s very seldom with regards to my very own working experience is concerned not to find the needed 15 points whenever I assist my clients in coping with the test.

Even though the particular judgment still depends with the tribunal there are a few aspects which actually can be considered in enhancing the chances of approval. First, I think that it is not helpful to pull out every probable point alternatively I recommend my client to be truthful and be sensible when doing the test. Additionally, it is of great essence that I have confidence in the actual credibility of my client. If perhaps on my side I already find even a trace of doubt, what more with the tribunal? It will help if appropriate medical evidence may be presented although acquiring them will need a variety of chance as well as skill. Further, it is always worth going through the ESA50 enquiry form and the “health care professional” (HCP) report with the client. Evaluate exactly what the client had written in his application with the HCP and what the actual feedbacks of the latter were. Discovering factual discrepancies and correcting it are a good idea in persuading the tribunal that they need to reconsider the application.

Meanwhile, I find that most of the clients that have obtained nil points can certainly pass the separate test to be put into the “support group”. Whenever it gets approved, the client will be spared of “work-focused interviews” as well as other demands to carry out “work-related activity” hence preventing financial sanction. Actually staying in the support group marks a financial advantage in contrast to “work related activity group” because the latter will just have a year entitlement effective April 2012. After which, they may apply for means-tested benefits for instance income related ESA, housing benefit or council tax benefit which unfortunately they might be unable to qualify either in the event their spouse or they have various other sources of income for instance pension or some other earnings.

My priority in any of the appeals is to push the case into a support group and it is quite rewarding when the decision maker will acknowledge the medical evidence provided by my client without the need for tribunal hearing.

When a case does come before an ESA appeal tribunal, there is an element of luck in terms of who the Judge and Medical Member are. They are only human and as such, they are all different in their approach. Some seem to be more even-handed than others. Some seem to struggle with the concept of ‘benefit of the doubt’. Most are fine, but this element of chance can materially affect the outcome of a hearing.

Because I always attend hearings, I have seen that certain representatives prefer to just make a submission before the tribunal. This might help because it is possible to irritate the tribunal immediately should the representative talks so much. However depending on my experience, I choose not to submit submission. Judges usually ask question not actually offered to them in writing and thus answers to which have to be as certain as well as precise in order to influence them totally. I don’t rely upon “trying it on” and suggest claims. Rather, I pursue appeals which I believe possess value.

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