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I've Done It!

The letter came through on Friday. I don't think I've ever shaken so much opening a letter. Apropos of nothing the envelope was not brown. 

I am in the Work Related Activity Group with a recommendation that I not be tested for six months.

I wanted to be in the WRAG so hopefully this won't be a case of 'be careful what you wish for' as I am due a phone call from my new adviser at the Salvation Army (all change without my consent of course) on the 8th. Regardless, this is the only honest outcome: I have tried to be fair and open about my situation. I am averse to bullshit - and why should I have to lie? 

I don't know what the future holds, this system and this government is doing it's damnedest to destroy lives and wreak havoc; IDS has said he wants rid of the WRAG as well, for example. But for now there is some security and some hope that, with the independence of these tribunals, some justice might come for people.

Unfortunately as of last October that process was made tougher by forcing people to undergo a period of mandatory reconsideration, without ESA, before reaching this stage. Given that the tribunal, a female judge and a male doctor (both of whom had a friendly demeanour, despite the formality of the setting), was explicit in pointing out their independence from the DWP it is not hard to see why they stick in IDS' craw.

Nonetheless this whole process has been fraught and worrying. All of this tension and stress, which helps no one, could be avoided so easily. All we need is the political will to see and adopt a better system, rather than this dreadful mess. By listening to independent experts (called doctors) and to the patient/claimant themselves people could get the help they need to move forward (hopefully that will happen). This will give them the security and confidence without which they will only struggle and possibly fail. 

This system can't go on as it is. 

Thanks to everyone for all the support. Happy new year!


  1. Hey that's great news! Congratulations :)

    1. Thank you :)

      Now it's on to dealing with the Work Programme as they have renewed their interest in me.

      Swings and roundabouts!

  2. Good news indeed. Very pleased. :]

  3. Hello Ghost Whistler,

    I've been following your progression in all of this and want to say how very pleased I am for you! Well done for remaining relatively positive and calm throughout.

    I told you last year that I had my ESA50 reassessment form through December 2012 yet I''m still awaiting that assessment. Apparently, I may have just been put back in the support group; they don't always tell you and I'm too anxious to ring and find out.

    I'm getting used to the psychological pressure of this but it's taken its toll as it surely does on anyone. There has to be a better system, but though G.P.s are mostly happy to sign fit notes for people who they know are ill or for people who say that they're ill, they will not police a benefits system because of the doctor/patient relationship.

    Perhaps a better system would be to dispense with Atos completely and just use professional tribunals. The problem in that is you still unfortunately come before people who are anything but independent or treat the disabled person in a demeaning manner. When I went before one for DLA in the 90s for example, I was picked on because I 'spoke well'. I asked what on earth that had to do with my physical symptoms. A friend of mine, very sick and on morphine pain relief was told off for having nice nails; she said that a friend had done them for her as a present. Another time someone else was asked how come they had nicely styled hair when they were disabled; conversely, the same person who went to tribunal on another occasion - and by then could not lift her arms to do her hair - was told that it was obvious she was 'putting it on a bit' because her hair and her dress was in disarray!!

    I lost my tribunal and the others won theirs by the way, but it was many years before I finally was able to obtain disability benefits; I had to be on the verge of collapse to do so and I feel that being forced to work when I was so ill has exacerbated my symptoms beyond recovery now.

    I think that you are very brave in making the point that you wanted to work right from the start. I made this clear in my first assessment, but I was still put into the support group. I would like to do a few hours here and there if I could, from home at least, but I couldn't be consistent, and to be honest, I'm afraid of even indicating this in case I'm suddenly thrust onto a lower income where I wouldn't be able to afford my care.

    I've told you before that I paint a few pictures every year and I'm currently writing a book, but anyone taking the next step forward has been severely penalised.

    Anyway, all the best. Here's hoping the Salvation Army will pull there finger out and find you a placement that you actually want this time around, and treat you with more respect. I've stopped donating to them due to their continued involvement in the work programme.

    Look forward to your updates.


    1. Thanks, and good luck to you. Creativity is not recognised in this society unless it has immediate and obvious benefits (and the creator can support himself, otherwise he's a scrounger).

      The ATOS process is entirely self defeating. Sadly and ironically it's this fact that compels IDS to ever more lunatic schemes. He wants the WRAG to be done away with!

      The WP won't really help because it cant'. No matter how helpful subsequent advisers at the SA appear to be they can't do anything about that anymore than they can undo the initial damage caused when I first saw them. You get one chance to create a relationship when helping people; trust is everything. If you screw that up, you're done as far as I'm concerned. I don't say that lightly, that's just how it is. I'll try to keep them sweet, maybe they can offer something, but I think these providers simply lack the tools to effect real change. That's partly not their fault, to be fair, but it's true nonetheless.

  4. Congratulations Ghost Whistler.

    Now that you are in the WRAG, ask to see the DEA to discuss what happens next. JC+ should not just be dumping you back with the Salvation Army. You don't have to be mandated to the Work Programme immediately, the DEA (or the advisor handling DEA work) will still have some degree of discretion.

    Now you have the Tribunal judgement, use it. Wave it in front of DEAs, Advisers and any WP provider you have to see.

    Using the judgement to get some therapeutic support via the GP might be worth it too. If you can put a list in front of the JCP+ showing exactly what your issues are, what you need to help you and what help you are getting, it can only make your position stronger.

    Best of luck.


    1. Thanks.

      My time with the WP ends in April. It's a case, at this point, of better the devil you know. As I'm already on the programme there isn't much that can change that. I have a feeling that, knowing i'm on ESA, the SA back off a bit. Initially I was on JSA and they were full on then, which was the problem. I've noticed with this system that, if you can tick the right boxes, or have the right 'permissions' (eg being on ESA) then their attitudes can improve. It's a bit odd, but that's the nature of bureacracy i guess.

      As for my GP, i'm waiting for an appointment for a neuro diverse diagnosis. But a tribunal decision won't change that. It will take time, hopefully not too long. Getting that (hopefully, there's no guarnatee) will be better in the long term. Particularly with the GP.


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