Having been someone who has always had a disposition to mental health problems, clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder, I had to be signed off work 1998 -2000. I returned to work as soon as I was able. 2010 was a bad year, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was made redundant.
I carried on working in a variety of temporary, low paid and zero hours jobs. By 2012 my wife had been 2 years all clear, I had secured a full-time permanent job, but 11 weeks later I was in hospital with “life-changing injuries” following a motorcycle accident. I was told I wouldn’t work for 12 months, but was back in 3. There followed 5 operations over 5 years with surgery on my elbow. I kept going to work (on light duties) taking the minimum amount of time off possible.
I had also developed epilepsy. In 2016, I had my elbow fused and have not returned to work due to chronic pain, PTSD, epileptic seizures mainly controlled by meds but I still have 2 or 3 seizures a month. I went for an ESA assessment and was awarded ESA at the higher rate and was awarded PIP at the middle rate for daily living. In early 2017 my wife was told that cancer had spread to her brain.
In December of 2017, I was called in for a further work capability assessment, My wife was at the end of her life, so I asked for a postponement. I received another appointment for the 21st of January 2018. On the 15th of January, my wife passed away. I rang to ask for another postponement only to be told I had missed one appointment and was expected to attend. I told the lady on the phone about the circumstances and asked her what my options were. She said I could either attend or “miss the appointment and appeal my case later” but I couldn’t cancel the appointment.
So 6 (six) days after my wife died, I duly turned up for the assessment. I went home and waited for the brown envelope to arrive, now bearing in mind that nothing had changed in my conditions since the first assessment, except for the small fact that I had lost my wife, I was told that I was being moved from the ESA support group to the work-related activity group and would consequently lose £30 a week.
I asked for a mandatory reconsideration only to be told the decision was upheld. I could have appealed the decision, but to be completely honest I did not and do not have the energy or emotion to fight anymore. I guess that is what they hope for, that people at their most vulnerable, won’t fight them. I could go into what happens at the Job Centre but I will leave that for another day.