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The Bulging Mailbox

This is being recorded live! (No it doesn't make sense.)

Just been for my morning constitutional (to quote an old GP of mine): a walk through the mud after breakfast, in the country and the fresh air. What do I find on my doormat waiting for me: 3 brown envelopes and one white envelope. The latter is from ATOS and I've just opened it; they don't waste any time! I've already been given an ESA50 form to return by the end of this month.

This must mean these other three envelopes contain good news about my ESA claim, though I wince as I'm typing. Never get your hopes up, not with the DWP! Though to be fair, in the past, the processing people have always been decent. It's the rest of them that I've had problems with. Let's find out...oh it's like Christmas all over again!

First envelope contains that p45 the ESA form wanted. Hope that's not a problem otherwise why send it to me!

Second envelope tells me my JSA claim has ended. Ok, I knew that.

God my hands are shaking!

Third envelope tells JSA counts as taxable income.

Er, where's my ESA then? How can ATOS have me as an active claimant, or whatever, and yet I don't even know if I am entitled to the benefit for which they are to test my entitlement? This is ridiculous. How can they have access to a claim that doesn't even exist yet? Will I get some more mail tomorrow? Next week? After the end of January? How can they expect me to fill in this form when I don't even have an open claim.

Fucking hell, anxiety overload!


  1. I know it's nail biting waiting for the confirmation to come through, but on a positive note I'd say it's more than likely your ESA claim has been approved, since I doubt ATOS would get in contact unless you had a claim for ESA confirmed. Most likely the approval letter for your claim is en route as we speak, and then you can have a rest from the stress (for now at least).

    I hope you don't mind me ramming my own good news down your throat, but I signed on just over an hour ago, and there was no mention at all of the dreaded Universal Jobmatch. Despite what the idiot IDS has been shouting in the media, the situation hasn't changed to what it was last year, and mandation seems as faraway as ever. No doubt the crunch will come in April, when the real "reforms" kick in...

    1. Always good to hear good news, well done. Perhaps this UJM is just threats - for now at least. They must realise they haven't the authority to force people to sign over their personal data. A ridiculous notion at the best of times in this age of internet bullshit.

      It seems ATOS are notified as sooon as someone makes a claim for ESA, regarldess of the outcome of that claim. Without wishing to jinx myself, I suspect the claim will go through, but it's a case of not jumping the gun. You just can't take any of this for granted.

      Good luck with further signing.

  2. I understood that if you applied for ESA you were automatically put into the 13 week assessment period, where you receive ESA assessment rate while ATOS then does a WCA on the claim. A letter telling you that your claim has been approved or refused won't arrive until after this has finished. However, I may be wrong as I'm often a little behind the rule changes.

    1. I don't know. That may be the case, but it wouldn't be prudent to assume anything. Given how quickly ATOS are informed these days I don't see that 13 week period being anywhere close to that long. I imagine they'll have me in before end of February, and I don't for one moment believe I'll pass. If people at death's door are told they can work, what chance do I have?

  3. When I first applied for ESA, I was automatically paid a rate during the assessment phase; it was around £80. That was 3 years ago, but I'm almost sure that you're not expected to go without income for 13 weeks. Give them a call if you're worried about it.

    Just got my ESA50 a few days ago, so it starts all over again. My year is taken up now with yearly care assessments, ESA assessments, monitoring and auditing assessments for my care and housing benefit.

    All this is scary I know. I keep saying that this is the 'new normal' for ill people. A merry go round of stress after stress. There again, I tell myself that I am also creating stress in the way I'm responding to all of this!

    I hope that you've taken advice with regard to your WCA; there is a lot of info out there concerning it, especially to do with particular applications for ESA with focus on your disability.

    Good luck with it all anyway!


    1. I won't ring up the ESA people just yet. I don't want to be the guy that rings them up every five minutes and I know that once I start that's wht will happen, plus it costs a fortune and they are always hideously busy. Maybe next week.

      It won't be 13 weeks till I get assessed. I imainge they will be just as quick to process the ESA50 as they were in sending it to me!

      Good luck with yours; this merry go round does seem to be the new norm. It's absolute insanity. Evne the BMA recognises this, but they are powerless it seems.

      My goal is to get onto the WRAG. THere's no way i'll be placed in the Support group, and I've said all along that's not what I want. Trying tio persuade my GP of that took months, even though he actually agreed. But unfortunately because ESA is so wonky you have to qualify for the Support group in order to get into the WRAG.

      I've no idea if the WRAG is any good either, but that's what the Work Programme tell me I need to do and that otherwise they can't help me and will continue ignoring all the issues I have, even when they've had that information sent to them as part of me being referred to them.

      Nothing about this makes any sense. At all.

    2. Sasson again!

      No nothing makes sense about it; unless you have some education or intelligence behind you (which you obviously do), and know where to look things up, it must be incredibly difficult.

      I think it's important to make the point that you really want to go onto a suitable placement, that you are enthusiastic and positive about going into the WRAG. I was like that when I had my assessment, and made it clear that all I wanted to do was to work. In the end, I found it not a bad experience at all.

      I was one of the first people ever to have their WCA recorded in the country, and the first one in my area. Fortunately, I was a qualified technician with a dual honours degree in classical composition, and music technology. I had all the required equipment too, so although I had to jump through many hoops, and even on the day they were trying to get out of it, by law, even 3 years ago, they couldn't refuse you to have it recorded by law, but the stumbling block was that you had to have it done professionally.

      When I booked in the receptionist said that the staff were really excited about the recording, but that no one wanted to be the 'star', so it took 2 1/2 hours for them to find someone. Despite that, they were really friendly. Hilariously, the doctor asked to be chaperoned during the WCA!! So, the nice receptionist volunteered and I had an interesting talk with her afterwards about what the staff thought about the new tests. Without my asking, she refunded my taxi fares. It made all of the difference to have someone treat me like that when I was so nervous, but I know others who haven't been so lucky.

      This afternoon I had 2 panic attacks though, the first in many years purely as a response to yet another invasion of my privacy this Monday by the local authority and the damned questionnaire! It's a real battle to keep hold of your mental health!

      I hope that you do get the support that you need in the WRAG. There are a lot of scare stories around, but some people have benefited from that support. It's just a pity that it's all been removed from the local Jobcentre as they've always been great when I've been returning to work once I'd adjusted to a new deterioration, and they have so much experience too.

      When I finally was forced to finish work 3 years ago, for the first month in desperation and being a bit delusional about my actual capabilities however, thinking that I could find something to do for a couple of hours a week, I approached the disability support private organisations the JC were using at that time, but they firstly said that I was just too ill and having a degree, vastly over qualified for any of their projects. I approached my DEA at the JC on a number of occasions, but there is nothing for ex professionals available, and certainly at the time nothing available for a few hours a week; I'm too ill to do that now though.

      It has likely all changed. I know that we hear of people with degrees working for their benefits in Poundland, but I also hear experiences of Jobcentre staff, and these disability organisations finding placements that are really satisfying, some that even lead to work, although it seems so very rare and of course it isn't their fault, it's just that there are no jobs out there.

      Well done anyway for having a positive attitude towards the whole thing. I think this is half the battle. If they see your willingness to go on placements that are suitable for you, I can't see a problem. But as you stated, you do initially have to relate to the WCA your absolute worst day in terms of your health.

      Will follow your progress; good luck again!


  4. I've always said that I'll consider anything. Whether I agree to do it is another matter and should be my choice. I'll consider working for nothing in Poundland...for about a nanosecond. But if someone suggessts something helpful then fair enough. Unfortunately my limited experience with the WP tells me that they don't like you thinking that way. Everything has to be clear and focussed otherwise you are just wishy washy and ultimately, to their profit margin, unhelpful. Besides if you ask them for anything, they aren't interested. Twice I asked about training when told 'you need training to be a writer', twice they weren't interested. Seemed like a logical question to ask.

    If something works for someone else then fair enough, but I draw the line at exploitation. Work fare crosses that line. My reason for getting on the WRAG is that it, at least to me, shoudl be the best place, between the rigouors of JSA and being in the support group, but the whole thing is so cack handed. Even if you're in the support group they'll just test you until you are found able to work in some capacity.

    I had a WCA in 2010 which I failed. I tried arguing then, though not very well, that I should be in the WRAG, but I made the mistake of not going to tribunal in person. I couldn't really face it, it's not as if it's local (which is part of the problem all round) and I just didn't see the point. People take one look at you, hear that you can string a sentence together, see that you can walk unaided, and think that's all you need to be considered fit for work. Of course it's just not that simple at all.

    The test itself was fine - I wasn't mistreated and didn't expect it to be anything more than it was. I didn't expect to score points (even though he ignored the knackered state of my eyes, despite bringing it up himself). The worst part was the rather insensitive receptionist and the long waiting time. I don't think i can deal with that again. But of course I will have to since their facilities, ironically, don't cater to people's needs in that way. There's a small lift for wheelchairs (it's on the top floor) and that's it. You got problems sitting in a room full of strangers waiting for the grim reaper to call your name? tough!

    I'm flattered you think I have a positive attitude. I don't know many that would agree! I just try to be realistic at least, and this blog is part cartharsis at least (as well as to assuage the guilt society compels me, rather more successfully than I'd like, to feel as a scrounger). Thanks for following (and to everyone that reads my witterings).


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