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ESA mental health claimants being denied chance to complete vital ESA50 form

Maximus, the company carrying out employment and support allowance assessments, claim to be operating a policy which appears to discriminate against some claimants with mental health conditions by not sending them an ESA50 form, Benefits and Work can reveal.

Regular readers will be aware that Benefits and Work has been investigating why some ESA claimants are not being sent ESA50 forms prior to a face-to-face medical assessment.

ESA50 forms give a claimant the opportunity to explain how their condition affects them and ensure that accurate evidence is available to the health professional carrying out a face-to-face assessment.

They are a vital part of the work capability assessment and not completing one puts a claimant at a serious disadvantage, as the decision maker is then likely to be obliged to rely primarily on the evidence from the Maximus health professional.

In ‘Missing forms, missing medicals, missing qualifications’ we revealed that some claimants who do not get an ESA50 and who query this are being told things like:

“Not everyone will get a form.”

“One isn’t needed in your case.”

“You don’t need to fill one in.”

We contacted Maximus – trading as the Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (CDHA) - about this and they informed us in an email that:

“An ESA50 is automatically issued once a referral is made. This needs to be completed and returned, along with any medical evidence, prior to an assessment taking place. If a person’s medical condition changes after the form is submitted, these changes can be discussed during the assessment. There is no need to fill in another form. We ask everyone to bring any additional medical evidence along with them, when they attend.”

However, they went on to say that:

“The only people that would be asked to attend an assessment without completing an ESA50 are those who a doctor has recorded on the referral, have a diagnosed mental health condition.”

For the avoidance of doubt we asked them to confirm that this is the policy that they are working to and they responded:

“That is correct, but we would like to emphasise to people that they should follow the advice they are given by CHDA.”

Benefits and Work believes that every claimant should be given the opportunity to complete an ESA50 immediately prior to attending an assessment.

It is entirely proper that where claimants with a mental health condition fail to return their ESA50 within the statutory time limit they still should be given the opportunity to have a face-to-face assessment. But to fail to send out an ESA50 appears at best to be an extremely misguided, and potentially unlawful, ‘concession’ to claimants with a mental health condition.

Benefits and Work will continue to investigate this issue.

In the meantime, we continue to urge readers who are not sent an ESA50 prior to their face-to-face assessment to strongly consider downloading a copy of the ESA50 form, completing it and submitting it in any case.

Comments  

#7 Wenka1 2016-07-14 14:27
I recently had a face to face medical assessment and sffer depression due to the constant pain daily and all the doctor at the asswssmwnt wanted to know was about my depression and how it effects me when challenged about my illnesses and pain we were told promptly to basically shut up that wasnt what they wanted to know about and then after 15 minutes where told to leave the room for 5 minutes and then after that they told us we could leave as she had all the information that she required whats that all about
#6 Angela 2015-04-22 15:46
I have received a letter to attend a face to face Assessment and am currently in receipt of ESA. They haven't sent me a ESA50 form to fill in and i was unaware that they had to. Now i am frightened this will go against me as i suffer with severe anxiety and depression. When your condition is Mental, it can be extremely difficult to explain things to someone who is probably not qualified in Mental Health. It just makes my anxiety and depression worse worrying about it.
+1 #5 j112009 2015-04-15 18:11
This is terrifying. I got into support gp from ib on ESA50 alone and didn't have a ftoface. I have a mental health diagnosis. Has there been a change in the ESA regulations to state ESA50's are not to be sent to claimants with mental health conditons? If not then surely what they are doing by not sending us ESA50's is unlawful and goes against the regulations. Have you heard any more about this Mr D?
+3 #4 SJ 2015-04-08 17:38
I'm now really worried. I'm sure I'm due for reassessment (was given 18 months on ESA, which ends in May) but haven't received a form yet. I hope this isn't why. I haven't had a face-to-face assessment before (put in SG twice on paper alone after migrating from IB) and am terrified of having one, mainly because I think they'll look at me and say I'm fine. It's even worse to think that I might have to go through that without them already having seen my info from the ESA50. I'd already contacted JCP/DWP about reassessment, I've just emailed again now.
+2 #3 micksville 2015-04-08 17:21
Interesting.... The plot thickens. I wonder if this was motivated in any way by the furore last year surrounding claimants with mental health conditions who were deemed to be at risk to themselves and/or others if found fit for work or work related activity. Members might remember the person who replaced Professor Harrington opined that such cases couldnt really ge properly identified on paperwork alone...in other words without a f2f medical. Seems this might be a way of ensuring all such cases, or mental health cases even remotely like them will be done on that f2f basis
+5 #2 foojam 2015-04-08 16:16
Yes, of course they are mental health conditions. YOU are the person as well as the hundreds of thousands of others, whom this message is aimed at. Beware, the dirty tricks have started, be on your guard. Always have your diagnosis, letters and a completed ESA50 ready if you are summoned to an appointment, whether they ask for a form or not.
+10 #1 Chrissy 2015-04-08 12:19
Hi thanks, what do they mean by diagnosed mental health condition? Does depression and anxiety fall under this? I know these ESA50 forms are not popular but it would make me more anxious and depressed if I received a letter inviting me to a medical without a form.

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