The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Valerie Crane


My experience of a Work Capability Assessment and concerns over time limiting ESA

1.  I worked for the DWP for almost 25 years until August 2009 when I was retired on ill health grounds.

2.  My employer uses Atos for occupational health advice and I was advised by a consultant in occupational medicine to accept that I was unable to continue working despite having many adjustments made over a number of years, and after reducing my hours of work.

3.  I have a form of Muscular Dystrophy which was only diagnosed in 2009 after my son was found to have the condition. This diagnosis came as a huge shock, especially as my daughter and grandchildren are at risk of developing the same disease.

4.  One of my concerns is related to the assessment process in claiming ESA. I believed that with rare and complicated conditions that some communication would be made with the medical specialists that were looking after me, but this did not happen. The ESA50 stated that no medical evidence could be sent in.

5.  The assessment itself was an unpleasant experience. The assessor was not happy that my husband wanted to come into the examination room and made him sit at the back and raised her hand to stop him speaking.

6.  I was unable to get up from the chair in the waiting room without support from my husband but the assessor in her report claimed that this was a "show" and stated I had no problem with rising.

7.  My medical report incorrectly stated that I could do things I could not, and some things I have little problem with were awarded points.

8.  There was no empathy or kindness from the assessor and I was made to feel worthless and guilty of scrounging.

9.  I had taken reports from my neurologist which confirmed I had severe weakness in my legs, arms and neck muscles and he had witnessed my difficulty in standing from sitting and also the confirmation of my diagnosis of Myotonic Dystrophy from the Clinical Geneticist. These were accepted but not read.

10.  I was placed in the WRAG with a prognosis that I would be unlikely to return to work in the longer-term as my condition is progressive and there is currently no treatment for MD.

11.  My other concern is that contributory based ESA will be time limited to one year for people in the WRAG. I am never going to get better unless a cure or treatment for MD is found. My life expectancy is probably limited.

12.  I have paid NI contributions for more than 35 years in the belief that it was a form of insurance.

April 2011

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Prepared 26 July 2011