Bournemouth Lad wrote:
Pretty much, mate - I've heard nothing since sending mine back, and that was in August.
Atos are behind on the assessments.
I waited for a few months after my ESA50 was sent, then got in touch via what passes for Customer Services.
I have it in writing from Atos that they have a massive backlog - this is partly due to existing ESA claimants having too many re-assessments, and also due to getting all the IB claimants on to ESA.
Most of the IB claimants are being assessed on paper only - ie. they are not getting a WCA at all, just scrutiny of forms etc.
Although the wait is nerve-wracking, it's actually good in a way. If they don't do a face-to-face assessment after weeks or months of waiting, and then allocate you to the wrong group, you have a very good case for reconsideration and for a subsequent appeal later on. The longer they delay, the better - you can claim maladministration on top of any other errors in the assessment process.
What Atos did with me was allocate me to Support Group on the basis of medical evidence and forms only - for just 3 months.
I wrote to DWP asking for all the decision makers' paperwork etc. which showed that my illness was permanent; then I complained to DWP, saying that I'd waited for months for an assessment that never happened, Atos and the DM had agreed my condition would not improve, and yet they gave me the shortest term possible for the next assessment.
I eventually got a letter saying I would not be assessed again for three years.
This is happening everywhere - people are waiting for months on end because the ESA claimants are being recycled through the process too quickly and a backlog is inevitable.
I claimed ESA for the first time in May 2009 - I've had 3 WCAs, 2 paper reassessments, 4 reconsiderations, 3 appeals, 3 tribunal hearings, and several official complaints due to poor decision making, appalling WCAs, lost medical evidence, etc. etc. - and every time ended up with Support Group after a battle.
I've had several apologies from DWP, a few from Atos plus compensation, and this time I actually got the Support group first time but then had to battle again to get it for a reasonable period of time.
The whole system is imploding - I advised someone posting on the Guardian the other day who had been waiting for his initial WCA (having been kept on assessment rate throughout) for nearly a year.
It's a mess - and if you are waiting for the outcome of the first stage of reassessment, ie. the decision on the ESA50 as to whether you need an assessment or not, you'll be waiting a long time.
If you are on IB, you probably won't get a WCA and DWP will rubber-stamp whatever the Atos person decides; if you don't get the right grouping on the basis of a paper assessment, you have very good grounds for appeal, especially if you sent good medical evidence. Of course, you have to have the mandatory recon now before you can appeal.
I'm sorry to hear you're all having these problems - it's very wearing when you're ill to start with, but in a weird way it's not entirely bad news because the more they fuck up the better your chances of getting the right result in the end.
There's a post on the Daily Politics (Page 1 Tuesday this week from Rebecca) about the Work and Pensions Select Committee asking for evidence about the WCA - the deadline is in March, and anyone can write in with their stories.