Benefits and Fibro

Here at FibroAction, we are not specialists in benefit claims and do not have the resources to work through individuals' claims with them. However, there are a number of organisations around the UK which do these jobs brilliantly, which is largely why we have not felt it is necessary to copy their work.

In particular, FibroAction is now a professional member of the Benefits & Work website, meaning we have access to all their benefit guides and are allowed to email these out to people in need (who would otherwise have to pay a small sum themselves). Therefore if you are being moved from Incapacity Benefit onto ESA, starting or renewing a claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), if you are facing a WCA (work capability assessment), ESA or DLA medical or if you have any other queries or questions relating to these areas, please contact us via email so that we can forward the correct guides to you which will help you through these complex forms and assessments. These step by step guides give you the best possible chance of getting your legal entitlement. If you need the guides urgently, please make this clear in your email.

Eligibility for Benefits

The Government website www.gov.uk provides information on the different benefits available and their online Benefits Adviser can help you work out which benefits you may be eligible for.

You may also get advice on what benefits you may be eligible for at your local JobsCentre or by contacting one of the specialist organisations listed below under Resources.

Work Capability Assessments & DLA Medicals

The Work Capability Assessment & Fibro

Information received with thanks, from the Disability Alliance through UK Fibromyalgia.

On July 14th 2011, the DWP hosted a roundtable Q&A event involving the Minister of Employment, Chris Grayling, relating to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and the Incapacity Benefits migration to ESA program.

The crucial new fact that emerged affecting people living with Fibro was a change to medical assessments. UK Fibromyalgia had been pressing for these assessments to be carried out by rheumatologists who understand the condition.

At the meeting the Minister said that the DWP should contact ATOS to direct them that a WCA should not be conducted by a healthcare professional whose medical specialism was "diametrically opposed" to the presenting health problem of the claimant to be assessed - the example given being a physiotherapist not assessing someone who has a mental health problem.

Whilst not what was lobbied for it is a step in the right direction and and a point you can make at your future assessments.

We suggest that you may want to copy this section and take it with you when you attend a medical assessment so that you can show it to the person who is conducting the assessment and ask them if they are suitably qualified to assess you. We have had situations where members have had their medicals cancelled and rescheduled as a result of doing this.

DLA Medicals & Fibro

We have also written to the Minister of Employment Chris Grayling to ask him to clarify the role of the ATOS Healthcare Professional when assessing a person with Fibromyalgia for a DLA medical. This followed one of our members being told by ATOS at her DLA medical that he was not allowed to assess her for her Fibro and she was not allowed to mention it. We received a response from Mr Grayling on 13 June 2011, including the paragraph below which has been scanned:

Therefore Mr Grayling has confirmed that if you have a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia ATOS should recognise that it is a real and potentially significantly disabling condition and ATOS must take full account of ALL the effects it has on you.

Guidance and training specific to Fibro is provided to ATOS professionals, but this guidance leaves a lot to be desired. Various organisations obtained a copy of this guidance under a Freedom of Information Act request, and you can view it here.

However it is up to you to make sure that you can provide the evidence needed to show the ATOS Healthcare Professional both what your diagnosis is and the EFFECTS of your condition(s) on your ability to function. It is always necessary to remember that DLA eligibility depends on whether the effects of your condition(s) mean that you need help in your daily life (whether or not you get this help) - what conditions you have and how much pain you are in are almost irrelevant when being assessed for DLA eligibility. You need to be completely prepared when going to the assessment. The guides on the Benefits & Work website will help you with that preparation.

Please feel free to print this article and Mr Grayling’s response and take it with you to the assessment.

Sign the petition - Change DWP Medicals for Fibromyalgia Syndrome.

Resources

Benefits & Work
Benefits & Work is a completely independent organisation that produces some of the best guides around on benefits and how to deal with the application and appeals process. Their website also has news on welfare reform. As FibroAction are a professional member of Benefits & Work, we can email you any of their guides that you need.
www.benefitsandwork.co.uk

DIAL UK
DIAL UK is a national organisation for a network of approximately 120 local Disability Information and Advice Line services (DIALs) run by and for disabled people.
www.dialuk.info

Disability Rights UK
Disability Alliance, the National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) and Radar have now unified to form Disability Rights UK, a registered charity led, run and controlled by disabled people. Their website provides a lot of advice on benefits and welfare reform.
www.disabilityalliance.org

Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice service helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free, independent and confidential advice, both online and in-person at a network of local bureaux across the UK.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Turn2Us
Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations. The website includes a Benefits calculator to help you see what you may be entitled to.
www.turn2us.org.uk

Law Centres
Law Centres are not-for-profit legal practices providing free legal advice and representation to disadvantaged people across England, Wales & Northern Ireland.
http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/
For help in Scotland, see Govan Law Centre.

For Carers

As well as the above organisations, there are also further organisations that provide help specifically aimed at carers, which can include advice on what benefits or allowances are available for carers and the people they care for (such as a person living with Fibro)

Carers Direct
Easy-to-understand finance, benefits, tax credits and legal advice for carers.
www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/moneyandlegal

Princess Royal Trust for Carers
The PRT provides advice and support for carers, both online and in-person through a network of UK Carers Centres.
www.carers.org