Accessibilty: Site Navigation

Left Sidebar

Main Content

Trying to claim disability benefits is making me more ill

Are you confident that help is available if you get too ill or become disabled and can not work?  

Coventry CAB client Kathleen Carey thought that as she had worked all her life, when she became ill later in life with a debilitating illness, Fibromyalgia and other illnesses, she would get the help she needed. Instead she was subject to filling in lengthy forms that didn’t allow her to explain how she struggles to walk and carry out everyday activities, an assessment carried out by a medical professional who ignored what she said.  She finally faced a wait of a year to receive the correct level of ESA in the support group because she had to appeal against the decision made about whether she qualified. And then to top it all she has recently received another assessment form and will probably have to go for another assessment, ‘no doubt they will make the wrong decision again and I will have to appeal again’ said Ms Carey. 

‘I have constant pain all over my body and I also get migraines, I struggle to wash, and get dressed and because I can’t sleep at night due to the pain I am always exhausted the next day, I can’t remember things and I struggle to concentrate. I wish I was well enough to work, and I did try to work eleven hours a week, but I just couldn’t cope. I am finding the process of claiming ESA so devastating I have to take antidepressants on top of all the other medication I have to take’ 

Sophie Parkes, social policy co-ordinator at Coventry Citizens, ‘Unfortunately Ms Carey’s case is not uncommon, we see many cases where without help and support from a specialist advice agency people would just give up, because claiming ESA is a complete nightmare.’  

In responses to the issues the advice sector is seeing with ESA, Advice Services Coventry has produced a report on the operation of ESA based on case studies from Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau and Holbrook’s Community Care Association.  Damning evidence collated by the Social Policy team at Coventry Citizens Advice bureau, revealed serious problems with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). The study showed that of the 23 cases examined by the Social Policy team, 9 had problems with the work capability assessment or the claim forms.  10 of the 23 cases did eventually, after intervention of an adviser; end up in the support group. 15 of the cases reported problems with administration by the Department of Works and Pensions and 9 people had problems scoring sufficient points despite suffering from a range of serious illnesses.  

For people struggling to navigate their way through claiming disability benefits, please contact your local advice agency, details can be found at Or if you want to share your story if you have struggled please follow the Campaigning for Change link from the same website.  

Microsoft Word - Sean's report Final (2).pdf235.79 KB