Another anonymous Atos/Maximus death

From Atos Miricles on Facebook-


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A friend of the Atos Miricles admin passed away. The following was shared on their Facebook page with permission, from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.


Maximus did my husbands assessment for pip last August- he applied for pip and ESA following a serious illness the year before.
As you know the illness was unforeseen and was not as a result of lifestyle choices other than to try and do all the right things in life.

Maximus did nothing wrong and the decision makers at the dwp awarded him pip and ESA SG – he was assessed by atos for ESA.

We’d been living on my wage since his illness and because I was working we were entitled to nothing for rent and so forth.
He followed Drs orders to the letter and was well on the path to recovery.
He had embarked on an OU degree and had distinctions in every piece of work. By next spring he would be fully qualified and was in line to get a first on his degree
He was planning on being able to work self employed in his new profession. He looked forward to returning to the fold of the tax payer as he had been all his life.

Even if he had had millions he would always have paid tax as he always said it was right that those of us who have, give a hand up to those who need a bit of help.

Pip is supposed to be for exactly what he was using it for – the extra expenses of living with a disability but he was looking forward to the day that he could just ring up and say he didn’t need the pip anymore that he had recovered and whilst recovering had done a degree and retrained.

Two weeks ago he had a pip reassessment form through. A three year award that he waited 13 months for, gave him just 11 months without the stress of being made to feel like a benefits scrounger.
He called them and was told that ‘this is a new thing. We are sending to people a year before their award ends but there’s nothing to worry about’
He did worry, he was beyond worry. The nightmare was back.
I found his pip award letter when I was getting his driving licence and birth certificate to take to the registrars office to collect his death certificate.
It says on there that they would be in touch from 14 weeks before the award ends in August 2016

So they lied to him for the last time.
He had a massive stroke the evening he finished completing the new form.

His suffering is over, mine begins anew every time I have to see his empty chair, give the funeral arrangements to dozens of friends who are shocked and heartbroken, every single minute is hell.
Nothing anybody says or does can stop this from being an open sore

Thank you for all your help *C* and it would be nice to stay in touch

Well done ids, Cameron and Osborne – another young mans life over.
He won’t appear on any statistics but those in my heart and that doesn’t matter because it’s already broken into thousands of pieces.

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#atos-2, #death, #deaths, #dla, #esa, #maximus, #pip, #wca, #wcas

PIP appeals now outnumber ESA appeals and success rates keep climbing

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that, for the first time, more personal independence payment (PIP) appeals are being lodged than employment and support allowance (ESA)appeals. The success rates for claimants appealing a PIP decision have also increased dramatically.

Appeal numbers begin to climb
In the first quarter of 2015/16 the number of ESA appeals lodged was 13,502. But in the same quarter 14,751 PIP appeals were lodged, making PIP the most appealed benefit for the first time.

ESA appeals have fallen from a high of 111,795 in the first quarter of 2013/14 to a low of 8,703 in the first quarter of 2014/15 and have since begun rising slowly again to their current level.

The massive drop is primarily due to the introduction of the mandatory revision before appeal system, which makes it much harder to get to the stage of lodging an appeal.

Overall, tribunal numbers are on the rise again, however, after a massive slump following the introduction of mandatory reconsideration before appeal.

They fell from a high of 160,077 lodged in the first quarter of 2013/14, down to 22,687 in the first quarter of 2014/15. In the first quarter of 2015/16 they had risen to 38,828.

This is still less than a quarter of the previous level and what is still not clear is how many mandatory reconsiderations are taking place and what proportion of those are successful.

More claimants win their appeals
Disability living allowance (DLA) appeal success rates for claimants have risen over time, although the number of appeals decided has fallen dramatically.

In the first quarter of 2013/14, the success rate for DLA claimants was 40% of 16,229 appeals. This has risen to 56% of claimants winning 2,435 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.

The picture for ESA is very similar.

ESA success rates have risen from 42% of 77,289 appeals in the first quarter of 2013/14up to 58% of 12,101 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.

PIP success rates for claimants have risen from 26% of 81 appeals in quarter 4 of 2013/14 – the first time there were any PIP appeals – to 57% of 7,931 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.

The proportion of claimants who have won their PIP appeal has risen every quarter until they are now on a par with DLA and ESA appeals.

This is puzzling.

Mandatory reconsideration mystery
Mandatory reconsideration before appeal was introduced for PIP in April 2013 and for DLA and ESA in October 2013.

This should mean that all the most obvious wrong decisions by the DWP are overturned before they ever get to appeal. This should mainly leave the less likely to succeed and hardest to judge appeals going forward to tribunal.

In those circumstances you would expect the DWP’s success rate to increase. It is undoubtedly what the DWP expected to happen. Instead it has fallen considerably.

It is clear we need to know a lot more about what is happening at the mandatory reconsideration and appeal stage. But, as ever, the DWP are trying to keep those figures as vague and inaccessible as possible.

Benefits and Work is now attempting to obtain more information about mandatory reconsiderations. Meanwhile, the message is clear: appealing is very definitely not a waste of time.

You can download the latest tribunal statistics from this page.


From Benefits And Work


#appeals, #atos-2, #disability, #disabled, #esa, #maximus, #pip, #statistics, #stats

JSUK Opinion- G4S- taxpayer scroungers

JSUK

Is there anything outsourcing giant G4S won’t turn their hands to?

They’ve got their sights  on opening more privately ran Childrens homes, they profit from you if you get arrested and sent to court and they want to run the police forces across the land.

This is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to G4S, an international outsourcing company that seems quite happy to profit from the taxpayer. They run work program  style schemes for the Jobcentre, which can range from six month community work placements to two year long courses that have been stated to be worse than doing nothing. They also fix up ambulances for the NHS and detain migrants overseas, leading to their deaths and reporting them as suicides. They do event security at Conservative conferences and bodge it up at the Olympics.

They get found guilty of overcharging for tagging offenders and even go so far as to beat someone to death with a fire extinguisher at a pop concert, not to mention killing immigrants by restraint as they board a flight.  One thing soon becomes apparent with G4S, they mess up time and time again and somehow keep winning contracts to run public services, profiting off taxpayers money and happily causing misery to thousands.

If I am late for even two minutes to a Jobcentre appointment I get my money stopped for 13 weeks, G4S can, it seems, bodge things up and continue as normal. The worst that happens is a contact gets revoked, they don’t have to pay anything, no one gets fired, no profits are lost. It’s like down at the Jobcentre, where they can harass and bully claimants, G4S are the untouchables, along with their brothers and sisters at Capita and Serco.

What makes G4S stand out however, is the fact they are always there for the government, like a dog poop on a shoe. Police cuts? G4S will run the force instead.

Privatized childrens homes? Yeah G4S will run those.

6 months workfare placements at JCP? Yeah, outsource those to G4S.

With the news this week that community support officers are to be given powers that enable them to arrest people for up to 30 minutes, how long before these powers become extended and G4S employees take their place? Everyone moans about the queen being a scrounger, the real scroungers are the companies making money off the taxpayer and not offering the services they promise, being unaccountable and laughing all the way to the bank.

#atos-2, #capita, #g4s, #maximus, #outsourcing, #serco, #work-program, #work-programme

You’re not looking hard enough for work, DWP tells man with cancer

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A MAN with cancer has been told by the Job Centre he is not doing enough to find work.

Michael Ward, 59, had been told by doctors he is too ill to work, but Job Centre officials have said he is not sick enough to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and cannot claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) because he is not actively seeking work.

Michael, from Southowram, Halifax, has suffered from chronic leukaemia for 18 months, as well as being diagnosed with severe arthritis in his left knee in 2012.

He said: “’I’m getting fed up of the Job Centre rejecting me all the time because of what I’ve got.

“I can’t cope with getting a job and they say I’m fit for work – which I’m not.”

Michael, who has previously worked in warehouses, said Job Centre staff had kept trying to apply for warehouse work despite him no longer being physically capable.

He said: “I keep trying to explain to them, but it keeps going over their heads – they’re trying to push me into warehouse work, but that’s something I can’t do.

“I feel really shocked and down – it’s getting to the ridiculous now. It’s taking a lot out of me mentally – there are a lot of things that I used to do that I can’t do any more.”

Michael’s case has been taken up by Halifax MP Holly Lynch, who was promised to raise the issue in Parliament.

Ms Lynch said: “The Job Centre are telling me that Mr Ward is falling between two different benefits, but is eligible for neither.

“The Government needs to take a more compassionate approach – the DWP are making a real mess of this.”


The above article is from Yorkshire Post.


#atos-2, #cancer, #dwp, #fit-for-work, #maximus, #wca, #wcas

Group of student legal volunteers overturn 95% of DWP ‘fit to work’ decisions they take on

One legal advice centre helped 95 per cent of people declared ‘fit to work’ by the Government’s disability benefit checks overturn the decision, it has emerged.

Volunteers at the Bristol and Avon Law Centre have helped over 200 people in its local area challenge decisions by the DWP that they were “fit to work”, according to legal magazine The Lawyer.

Of these, only 5 per cent of claimants’ appeals failed once a legal professional took on their case.

The centre is staffed by law student volunteers who appear with claimants in front of a judge and a doctor at benefit appeals to help claimants make their case.

Nationally, the appeal success rate for disability benefit claims is also high – at 59 per cent, but the experience of the Law Centre appears to suggest that legal representation makes it go higher still.

Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions SecretaryIain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions SecretarySteep cuts to legal aid for people challenging benefit decisions have left many people without legal representation at appeals.

Law Centre welfare benefits adviser Andy King told The Lawyer that the centre would only be able to help a “tiny fraction” of the number of people it does without the help of the student volunteers.

The figures come amid questions about just how accurate the Government’s Work Capability Assessment actually is.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions last week show that thousands of people died soon after being found ‘fit to work’ by the Government’s disability benefits test.

The Department for Work and Pensions battled for months not to release the numbers, with its chief minister Iain Duncan Smith at one point telling Parliament they did not exist.

One legal advice centre helped 95 per cent of people declared ‘fit to work’ by the Government’s disability benefit checks overturn the decision, it has emerged

Volunteers at the Bristol and Avon Law Centre have helped over 200 people in its local area challenge decisions by the DWP that they were “fit to work”, according to legal magazine The Lawyer.

Of these, only 5 per cent of claimants’ appeals failed once a legal professional took on their case.

The centre is staffed by law student volunteers who appear with claimants in front of a judge and a doctor at benefit appeals to help claimants make their case.

Nationally, the appeal success rate for disability benefit claims is also high – at 59 per cent, but the experience of the Law Centre appears to suggest that legal representation makes it go higher still.

Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions SecretaryIain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions SecretarySteep cuts to legal aid for people challenging benefit decisions have left many people without legal representation at appeals.

Law Centre welfare benefits adviser Andy King told The Lawyer that the centre would only be able to help a “tiny fraction” of the number of people it does without the help of the student volunteers.

The figures come amid questions about just how accurate the Government’s Work Capability Assessment actually is.

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions last week show that thousands of people died soon after being found ‘fit to work’ by the Government’s disability benefits test.

The Department for Work and Pensions battled for months not to release the numbers, with its chief minister Iain Duncan Smith at one point telling Parliament they did not exist.

In June the British Psychological Society said there was “now significant body of evidence that the WCA is failing to assess people’s fitness for work accurately and appropriately”. It called for a full overhaul of the way the tests are carried out.

The WCA appeals system has also been fraught with controversy with a very high rate of overturns and delays lasting months and blamed for hardship

Some payments for the Employment and Support Allowance benefit were cut in the Chancellor’s recent budget, with Mr Duncan Smith arguing that the previous cash level created a “perverse incentive”.

Homelessness charity Crisis last year warned that an increase in sanctions for the ESA benefit was in danger of contributing to a rise in homelessness for disabled people.


The above article is from the Independent. Find the original here.


#assesment, #atos-2, #benefit-deaths, #deaths, #fit-for-work, #maximus, #wca, #wcas

One in four claiming disability benefits faces serious difficulties including delays, unfair dismissals and confusion over eligibility

Almost a quarter of all people applying for disability benefits to help them live independently are encountering serious difficulties, including delays, unfair dismissal of claims and confusion over eligibility, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. The scale of the problem with personal independence payments (PIP) means that needing help with the benefit is now the most common reason for approaching the national charity Citizens Advice charity, new figures show.

In June last year, the Public Accounts Committee described the implementation of PIP as “nothing short of a fiasco”. Figures for April this year show 11,500 people in one month went to Citizens Advice for help with the benefit in one month. This is a significant number given that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) recorded only 52,000 new claimants and reassessments in the same month.

PIP began replacing the old disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013 as part of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare shake-up. In an attempt to slash the benefits bill, the criteria for receiving help became more stringent and most claimants will now be subject to constant reassessment. Since last month, almost everyone on DLA – apart from the most extreme long-term cases – has had to reapply for PIP.

The idea of the benefit is to provide financial support for disabled people who face the greatest challenges to be independent, regardless of whether they are in work. The payments range from £21.55 to £138.05 a week, depending on the severity of the condition, to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability.

In the past year, Citizens Advice received more than 100,000 queries about eligibility for PIP and more than 50,000 approaches about issues with a claim, including problems with delays. A significant number – more than 20,000 – also needed help with challenges and appeals after being turned down for the payment.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of the charity, said: “People’s ability to live independently is at risk due to PIP failures. People are experiencing problems with every part of the PIP application process, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety for those going through a very difficult time. For too many people the system is not working. In order to fulfil its intention, the Government needs to ensure the PIP process is implemented properly and responds to people’s changing needs.”

Figures from the DWP published in June 2015 showed that delays for PIP had fallen to an average of 11 weeks for new claimants. However, Citizens Advice has evidence that some people are still waiting more than a year, and that delays to decisions have resulted in many people falling into debt and some relying on support from family members.

Shadow disability minister Kate Green said: “These figures make worrying reading. PIP can be a lifeline, helping disabled people and those living with serious illness such as cancer or Parkinson’s disease to meet the extra costs disabled people face. Yet the Government is recklessly pressing ahead to roll out the new benefit to all existing disability living allowance recipients rather than sorting out the problems that this research shows. It’s a recipe for chaos which will leave many disabled people facing hardship and distress.”

The majority of assessments in the UK – about 70 per cent – are handled by the controversial outsourcing giant Atos. Capita handles the remaining cases in Central England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Last year, Atos famously bought itself out of a contract assessing fitness to work tests for the DWP last year following years of protests and bad headlines – including that it found terminal cancer patients fit for work. Its role in PIP contracts has also been controversial.

An investigation by the Disability News Service last month found that the proportion of disabled people stuck in the queue to be assessed for PIP was more than five times higher in parts of the country managed by Atos than those managed by Capita. Nearly a third of new PIP claimants in Atos areas – Scotland, the North of England, London and southern England – waited longer than 20 weeks for a decision, official figures from 31 March showed.

An Atos Healthcare spokesperson said: “We are sorry that anyone has had to wait for their PIP claim and we have been clear that this has been unacceptable. We have done all we can to reduce delays quickly, while also making sure that we give each individual the time they need during an assessment.”

The disability charity Scope says that, like Citizens Advice, its helpline has been inundated with calls from people struggling with PIP. Negative decisions and poor decision-making are something the service says it hears about every day.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “We’ve heard from a large number of disabled people who used to receive DLA, but did not qualify when reassessed for PIP. Many of the callers said that their assessment report didn’t resemble what happened in their assessment.

“Life costs more if you are disabled. From higher energy bills to specialist equipment – our research shows that this adds up to on average £550 per month. Extra costs payments – DLA and PIP – are a financial lifeline for disabled people.”

Clair, 32, a mother of three from Berkshire was in a serious car accident last year that left parts of her brain pushing down onto her spinal chord. She has mobility, vision and hearing problems and suffers from constant pain and nausea. She only receives £202 a fortnight in statutory sick pay and applied for PIP in July 2014. She was not given an assessment date until February this year and it was a two hour drive away. She suffers from severe motion sickness and vomited so much on the journey that it had to be abandoned and she was hospitalised for five days.

Clair was then forced to re-apply all over again and was only interviewed for it last week, when she discovered the waiting was not over: “They said the wait would be four to eight weeks, or a bit longer, which is a long time given I’ve been waiting since last year,” she said. She is due to have major brain surgery in the autumn and says the money “would make an absolutely massive difference; it would be a lifeline.”

Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who lobbies in the Lords for improvements to disability benefits, said: “Not only has the system changed, but there are new criteria, and the appeals process is more challenging. The cost of a decision being overturned because the wrong decision was made in the first place is such a waste.

“I am also concerned about the delays, and the percentage of people who are actually being transferred over [from DLA]. I think we are potentially seeing the tip of the iceberg and we are not going to know the full scale of the problems for another 12 months.”


Case study: “‘I can’t use my arms or legs, but I have to face a tribunal’”

Ronny Huelin, 52, lives in Rugby with her husband, Mike, 47, and daughter, Louise, 17

“I applied for PIP back in May on the advice of a neurological specialist treating me for an extreme version of restless leg syndrome. It’s like Parkinson’s and means I’ve lost function in my arms and legs. I can’t make the bed, wash my hair or Hoover; I can’t even pick up a kettle – it’s like I’ve got no muscles. In the night my legs and arms jerk so I wake up exhausted.

“I used to work as a teaching assistant but now I can only do playground duty for six and a quarter hours a week. I have no other income. My husband was made redundant as a warehouse operative recently. My husband and daughter help, but once she’s back at college and he’s back at work I don’t know what I’ll do. PIP would mean I could afford things like lighter pans that I can lift on my own and someone to help with cleaning.

“At the first PIP assessment I was given six points and needed eight. I appealed, and the second time they came back and gave me seven. They never spoke to the specialist who told me I should be eligible. Now I’ve had to take my case to a tribunal.”


The above article is copied from The Independent.


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#atos-2, #benefit-deaths, #benefits, #delay, #delays, #disability, #disabled, #dla, #esa, #fit-for-work, #maximus, #personal-independence-payment, #pip

PIP claimants five times more likely to face delays if tested by Atos, DWP admits

The proportion of disabled people stuck in the queue to be assessed for the government’s new disability benefit is more than five times higher in parts of the country managed by Atos Healthcare, Disability News Service (DNS) can reveal.

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures produced in response to a DNS freedom of information request show that nearly a third of new personal independence payment (PIP) claimants in Atos areas – Scotland, the north of England, London and southern England – waited longer than 20 weeks for a decision.

This compares with only six per cent of claimants in those parts of the country – Wales, central England and Northern Ireland – managed by rival outsourcing company Capita.

On 31 March 2015, there were 22,000 new PIP claimants who had been waiting longer than 20 weeks for a decision in Atos areas. This was 32 per cent of those waiting for an Atos assessment.

But on the same date, there were just 500 new PIP claimants who had been waiting longer than 20 weeks for a decision on their claim in Capita-run parts of the country. This was just six per cent of those waiting for a Capita assessment for PIP, which is replacing working-age disability living allowance.

Until now, it has been unclear which of the two companies was most to blame for the huge delays and backlogs that have blighted the PIP assessment system since it was launched in April 2013.

The figures raise fresh questions over the decision of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to award two PIP assessment contracts to Atos when the company had been heavily and repeatedly criticised over its failings in delivering the “fitness for work” test, the work capability assessment (WCA).

It was allowed to pull out early of its WCA contract after being hounded by disabled campaigners (pictured, a protest against the WCA and Atos in 2013) and MPs over its performance.

Activists had pointed to links between the way Atos carried out the WCA – now carried out by the equally controversial contractor Maximus – and relapses, episodes of self-harm, and even suicides and other premature deaths among those being assessed.

The PIP figures appear to have borne out fears raised in an investigation in 2013 by DNS and the disabled journalist Richard Butchins.

That investigation suggested that misleading information used by Atos to win the two PIP assessment contracts would lead to longer queues for claimants.

DNS revealed in 2013 that Atos had broken a series of firm pledges that helped it win a £184 million contract to assess people across London and the south of England for PIP.

Atos had promised to provide a network of 740 assessment sites across London and the south of England, but after the contract was signed it only managed to secure 96 assessment centres.

This meant thousands of disabled people faced longer delays in being assessed, and longer and more complicated journeys to reach their assessments, often by inaccessible public transport.

There were particular concerns that Atos had not provided a single PIP assessment centre across a vast sweep of north London.

This week, Atos said it was unable to explain why the proportion of claimants waiting longer than 20 weeks in its parts of the country was so much higher than in Capita areas.

An Atos spokeswoman said: “I am not going to go into comparisons, because I can’t do that. I don’t know anything about the Capita account.”

She also said DWP had “made clear” it had not been misinformed about the number of assessment sites it would provide.

She said: “We completely refute any allegation of misinformation during the procurement process for personal independence payment.”

An Atos spokesman said in an earlier statement that the “average” wait time for its part of the PIP assessment process had fallen since 31 March 2015 and was now “around six weeks”.

He said: “We are sorry that anyone has had to wait for their PIP claim and we, along with all other parties involved, have been clear that this has been unacceptable.

“We have done all we can to reduce delays quickly, whilst also making sure that we give each individual the time they need during an assessment.”

Capita had not responded to a request for a comment by 10pm tonight (Thursday).

DWP has refused to comment.


The above article is  from Disability News Service.


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#atos-2, #delayed, #delays, #disability, #disabled, #dla, #dwp, #esa, #maximus, #pip, #wca, #wcas