East Belfast Independent Advice Centre

EBIAC have been providing free and independent advice and advocacy across a broad range of issues since June 2000. This includes confidential advice and representation with Tax Credits, Welfare Benefits, Employment, Housing and Debt issues.

Help from EBIAC

EBIAC provided assistance to a client who had been turned down for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) after receiving 0 points in her Work Capability Assessment (ESA)

The client suffers from severe pain, an essential tremor, depression and anxiety. She had also been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This person had worked all of their adult life up until their health problems became too severe and had been paying National Insurance contributions up until this point. EBIAC assisted the client with the appeals process and also helped her submit an application for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). They also wrote to the clients GP to request supporting evidence for challenging her ESA decision.

The client's GP supplied very strong and compelling evidence which explained in detail her limited ability to walk, inability to leave her home alone and the significant amount of assistance she required to attend to her personal care needs. This evidence was submitted to ESA branch and they still refused to overturn their original decision, despite the fact that the client was subsequently awarded the highest rate for care and mobility in the DLA claim. In light of this ESA were again asked to change the decision, but told that the evidence submitted was not enough to merit a change to the decision. The Client's case was listed to proceed to tribunal.

The Outcome

The EBIAC manager contacted an ESA manager to complain that evidence submitted by the client's GP was not enough to overturn the decision. On the morning the appeal was to be heard at tribunal EBIAC were called and informed that the decision had been changed and the client was awarded ESA and placed in the Support Group.

In The Client's Own Words

'I could not understand what was going on, my life had turned upside down, I was suffering physical problems and had depression and anxiety'

'A friend told me about EBIAC, I cannot say enough good things about the help I got from everyone'


When asked about welfare reform changes, the client responded that she:

 'is afraid that she will have to go through the same "trauma" when she is assessed for Personal Independence Payment'

Observations

This person felt very let down by the system, she had worked and contributed National Insurance throughout their working life. When she asked for help from the state she felt as though she was being treated like a liar throughout the process as well as being dismissed and not believed.