When you first receive the results of your ATOS W.C.A and it is a fail, the first thing that many do, as they are panicked and desperate, as they have had their money stopped, is to panic and phone the Job Centre Plus and ask about signing on for Jobseekers Allowance, which is what they want you to do, but there is an alternative and that is by asking for a Reconsideration and/or Appeal.
How to request reconsideration/Appeal
Many claimants have found they have scored “0” points in their W.C.A. and thus their benefits have been suspended. As the suspension notice usually arrives on or after the claimants usual pay day, panic ensues, followed by a call to Job Centre Plus and advice from Job Centre Plus to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance.
This is not necessarily the case, there is another option, one which will give you some money whilst you seek reconsideration and/or Appeal. If you request an Appeal without requesting a reconsideration the DWP will automatically carry out a reconsideration and if the decision is not changed you do not then need to request an appeal as this is already registered.
Note, as soon as you know you have not scored sufficient points it is essential to contact your local C.A.B. or Local Authority welfare rights office, or other advice agency and request assistance from them. They are under severe pressure at the moment so get your request in quickly. You can also contact the Crutch Collective for help.
What is the difference between reconsideration and an appeal?
Reconsideration: - When a Job Centre Plus Decision Maker looks again at the ATOS Health Care Professional's report or any new evidence you or your Doctors, specialists etc. provide.
Appeal:- When your case has been reconsidered by the Job Centre Plus Decision Maker and the decision is not changed then it goes to a Tribunal (this is sometimes called a first tier appeal).
What to do:
When you receive notice of your suspension due to scoring insufficient points to retain your benefits do the following:
Make sure you have a pen and paper in a convenient and comfortable spot near to your phone before you begin.
Call Job Centre Plus (or ask a carer or friend to this for you), ask the person you speak to for their name and contact number.
Go on to request a GL24 form and a copy of the ESA85 assessors report.
Tell the Job Centre Plus operative you will be seeking reconsideration and you wish to be put on the “Assessment Rate” during the appeals process.
The Job Centre Plus staff member may be evasive, say they haven't got access to your ESA85, but be polite and persistent, (they have it, they need it to make their decision), ask to speak to a more senior person and continue until they agree to what you are asking, including putting you on the Assessment Rate.
The Assessment Rate is the same as Job Seekers Allowance and allows you to retain any other help with rent and council tax you were receiving prior to your benefit suspension.
When you have the GL24 and ESA85 (These may not arrive at the same time with the ESA 85 may arrive weeks after the GL24 – Fill in the GL24 immediately)
Make a copy of the ESA85.
Read through the document carefully, you may have to pause during this part of the process as it can be quite frustrating to find out what has been written about you. If you find this difficult get someone you know and trust to help you.
Highlight every piece of information you consider to be:
In this order, using a different coloured marker helps.
If you are going to dispute a descriptor it is essential you provide supporting evidence from your own Health Care Professional as the Tribunal will accept the word of the ATOS Health Care Professional if you do not do so.
Next, deal with one set of descriptors at a time. Write out the descriptor you are disputing, next to it say why, then indicate what evidence you have to support your challenge.
By the time you have completed this exercise you may have received the result of the reconsideration, if the outcome is positive then you have no need to go any further, if it is negative the Decision Maker will inform you if they think your case can go forward to the first tier tribunal and you should continue checking and double checking your ESA85 form for errors in preparation for your appeal.
Contact us for advice if you need to carry on to the next stage of the appeal process – how to prepare for an ESA Tribunial Hearing (this advice is also available on our website). There is also a – At the Tribunial Hearing - guide available.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU IF YOU ARE PLACED IN A WORK RELATED ACTIVITY GROUP
You may be placed in a WRAG if it is thought you can return to work within a matter of months.
The amount of benefit you receive will not be affected at first.
You will be invited to attend regular interviews to find ways to 'help' you back to work.
You will be informed that if you do not attend the interviews your benefits may be affected.
Contact Job Centre Plus and ask them what points you were awarded during the WCA.
Ask to see your report.
Ask for an appeal form.
These enquiries alone may be sufficient for the Decision Maker to find in your favour and place you in the Employment Support Allowance Support Group where no back to work interviews are required and the amount of benefits you receive may increase.