Employment & Support - The 'mental minefield' Jul 16, 2012 19:46:53 GMT 1
Post by nickd on Jul 16, 2012 19:46:53 GMT 1
A claim for Employment & Support Allowance..
Can be full of problems for people claiming on mental health grounds....
A claim for Employment & Support Allowance made on mental health grounds often follows a particularly difficult happening, illness or event. In this article we take a look at how we decide whether someone is entitled to claim. It is not always quite the easy 'claimant journey' portrayed by the Jobcentre Plus. A person can find themselves claiming Employment & Support Allowance in different ways, their claim could follow a period on Statutory Sick Pay, it could be a direct claim to the allowance or a person may end up having their Incapacity Benefit related (including those claiming Income Support on the grounds of Incapacity) claim converted to an award of Employment & Support Allowance. Claims for Employment & Support Allowance can be made solely on mental health grounds or quite often they are combined with physical problems as well. In this article we are only going to be looking at Employment & Support Allowance claims related to mental health problems.
This article is related to a secondary one which provides more information about the process by which a claim for Employment & Support Allowance on mental health grounds is determined in law. Please use this link for more details. This is a hard hitting article which deals with some quite brutal situations such as suicide. I must discourage any one who may be sensitive to or affected by such issues from reading further. This is real life stuff which affects people in all sorts of ways, it expresses some of the real experiences I have encountered in advising often highly distressed clients during the course of my work as a welfare benefit specialist. If you are affected by such issues there is a link to the Samaritans here. You can call them on 08457 90 90 90 if you feel you would like to talk to someone.
A client claiming Employment & Support Allowance through any of the routes I have referred to may find themselves claiming sometime after they became unwell, it may be possible to claim the allowance on a backdated basis. You may need to submit a claim for Housing & Council Tax Benefit at the same time. In some cases you may be able to claim help towards your mortgage interest costs. Employment & Support Allowance may be awarded on the basis that you have paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions (contribution - based) or providing you do not have excess income or capital you may qualify for an income - based variant. You can find out more about claiming Employment & Support Allowance here.
It can all be very confusing, especially when you are facing a tough time, it will involve making telephone calls or a claim on-line, it can be very frustrating and claimants can be given conflicting information over whether they are able to claim. You can access free of charge help from a Citizens Advice Bureau by clicking here, help is also available from local welfare rights offices, law centres, local Councils and a number of very good sites accessible via social media. There is also access to advice sources right here on Mylegal. You should not have to pay anything for advice from any of the links on this page.
So that's the practical stuff out of the way. Next we take a much more in depth look at the problems encountered by those claiming Employment & Support Allowance on mental health grounds. We will take a look at some of the judgements we all make, the ones we make on first impressions, those we make on our morals, those made on financial grounds, the ones made by clinicians, those made by the healthcare professionals who assess you, and finally we'll take a look at how the decision - makers employed by the Jobcentre Plus and independent Tribunals decide entitlement according to law. Employment & Support Allowance is decided by a process of assessment which potentially discriminates against metal health claimants and is currently subject to an important case for judicial review which you can find more about via the Guardian here.
In the Judicial review the judge has already described the assessment system as "pretty crude". Judgment has been reserved until a later date but it follows calls by the British Medical Association (BMA) to have the 'Work Capability Assessment' scrapped on the grounds that it is causing distress to thousands of people with long-term health conditions who are being deemed fit for work.
So let's take a look at a hypothetical client and consider the situation in which they may find themselves and the process by which their entitlement is determined. Let's start by taking a look at how this may make you feel or react in a pretty drastic situation; it requires a fair bit of soul searching and you need to honest with yourself. There will be more in the next post when we have our first 'encounter' with a client in an all too real situation (more tomorrow)....