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    Thread: ESA (Contrib-Based) stopped after 365 days (mistake?)

    1. #1

      Default ESA (Contrib-Based) stopped after 365 days (mistake?)

      Hi all,

      On 16th February 2012 I was transfered from Incapacity Benefit to ESA, in the WRA Group.

      As I have savings over 16k, and have paid NI contributions in the past, I am getting the contributions based ESA.

      I have my first appointment on at the job centre with an advisor on tuesday. Yesterday I got a letter saying that my ESA will stop on 11th April 2012, because I have been on it for 365 days. I only switched onto it 2 months ago though.

      I am quite distressed at the moment as the amount of money I get on ESA just covers my rent, and as it is my income is less than my outgoings.

      I only discovered yesterday about this 365 days rule. Neither my GP or my psychiatrist expect me to work at all, and I'm on the severe mental illness regiser, probably because I've been sectioned several times.

      I manage to cope if I'm not being harrassed by these people, but am finding things very difficult at the moment.

      I also find it very difficult to explain my personal struggles with things/interacting, and will find it hard to explain to anyone why I'm not working.

      I suppose I'm writing here to try to express my deep concerns and worries about all of this.

      The woman who helped me fill in the esa form was pleased I got into the WRAG, saying that you have to be pretty much dying of cancer in the last stages to get into the Support Group. I will contact her again about this I think.

      Sorry about writing so much, but I suppose if I have a question, it is, do you think the DWP made a mistake in stopping my ESA now by claiming I've been on it for over 365 days? Are they including time that I was on Incapacity Benefit? Or, which I desparately am hoping, have they made a mistake here?

      If they have made a mistake, am I right to understand that next February after being on ESA for 365 days I will have my money stopped?

      I am very worried about all this, and my savings which I only recently inherited, will disappear very quickly when my weekly income (benefits) are stopped.

      So basically, Incapacity benefit, which was not means-tested, has been replaced by ESA which (after 365 days) is means tested. How did they get away with this?

      I'm in a bad way at the moment, because of this. ESA? support? they are doing the opposite of support to me - they are making me ill with these things, no matter how many lies they tell when they say it's to help me (in their letters). I think if htey replaced the word support to harrass, it would be more true.

    2. #2
      Senior Member aleshadxcherylc's Avatar
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      Feb 2012
      Sandhurst, Berkshire
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      Hi Char Drinker
      Welcome to the foroum well done for posting
      So sorry to hear of whats going on so sorry i cant advise anything but hopefully someone will be on here soon who can advise and support you.
      im so glad you have support form your GP and pyschiatrist, keep talking to them about your health and your worries and anxieties.
      Take care keep strong and keep talking

    3. #3
      Senior Member mygirl1uk's Avatar
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      Mar 2012
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      I have recently been put on ESA as i am unfit for work, I havent been told that after 365 days that it ends, I was put straight into the support group section, and dont have to have any medicals for a year. Maybe try going to CAB for advice if u need help!

    4. #4


      thanks for the replies.

      I was put straight into the WRA group without a medical (for which I was grateful as I was dreading the medical).

      It sounds like I might need to try to get into the support group then.

      So many times over the last 21 years I've felt punished for having mental health problems. If the people who brought these rules and laws in had to spend a few months in an NHS psych ward, then try to battle their way through various procedures while they were still ill, perhaps they might have more consideration and compassion towards people with mental health problems.

      mygirl1uk, the 365 days thing only applies to people in the WRA group from what I understand so far...

    5. #5
      Active Member shytom's Avatar
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      Jun 2011
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      Hi char drinker,
      I am hoping that the DWP have made a big big mistake, I thought the 365 days started from the day that either the claim started or the person was moved over to ESA from Incapacity Benefit.

      I did find a local council fact sheet that clearly states the following:
      If you receive incapacity benefit and are switched to
      contributions-based ESA, the 12-month period will
      begin from the date you switch over.
      this can also be found on many other fact sheets, if you do a google search for this term: is incapacity benefit taken into on ESA time limit also the following government website gives details too:

      I was moved over last July and was expecting for my claim to run out this July which I have been preparing myself for and rushing to get myself well enough to return to some form of part time work since I can't claim the Income Based ESA as my girlfriend works full-time but if it's the case that the DWP are now taking the time spent on Incapacity Benefit then I will be in the same position as yourself.

      I would get in contact with your local CAB office and get them to help you in finding out what's going on since I think they have made a big big mistake there, also to maybe try and get into the Support Group.

      Good luck

    6. #6


      Hi Shytom,

      Thanks for your reply and support.

      I rang the DWP today, and thankfully you are right - My ESA will end in February 2013. It was the way they had worded the letter - particularly this sentence:

      "We cannot pay you contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance because you have reached the maximum of 365 days that you can get this benefit for."

      Putting that sentence in the present tense when it should have been in the future tense, perhaps clearly stating the date, would have saved me a huge amount of distress, shock and anxiety over the weekend. I had missed another sentence in the letter when I'd read it where the date in Feb 2013 was mentioned.

      So that does give me some time now - 10 months.

      I can relate to "rushing to get myself well enough to return to some form of part time work" - because that will be my situation now.

      I really hope there are groups campaigning against the means-testing of sickness benefit. I will contact my local Mind (Rethink) group soon about this.

      My situation in 10 months time if I don't find another income will be drastic. But at least I've 10 months now to sort something out - either like yourself, get myself well enough to work, or give up my home and try to find an alternative lifestyle, and try to survive that.

      I don't want to watch my savings disappear and end up having to claim the income related ESA - I'm just not able to go through all that again.

      Thank you again for your post. I am finding that talking about this is helping me cope, especially as I was getting strong suicidal urges come to the surface again, which I am working my way through. I hate these feelings, but I've never acted on them, but they can be difficult to endure at the time. Already they've calmed down significantly since I rang the DWP this morning and then rang my dad and then rang a friend.

      I wish they'd stop sending letters out for the weekend when you can't contact them though!

    7. #7
      Active Member shytom's Avatar
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      Jun 2011
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      Hi char drinker,
      So glad to hear that your ESA is not being stopped (well not until 2013 - that part still sucks) and that it was just the way it was worded and a missed sentence.
      I have done that myself when reading letters from DWP, missed parts that could have stopped anxiety and worry, I'm sure that they have a department at the DWP that's dedicated to designing the letters in a way that makes us miss them bits. LOL

      I've found coming to the this forum to be a great help, especially when going through tough times and sometimes even if only to distract myself from my own thoughts and harmful urges.
      So glad to hear that you resisted your suicidal urges, from my own experiences I know how tough they can be to deal with and endure, I still get them often (sometimes daily) but luckily I never act upon them either.

      It's not nice having to have a time limit on how long we are allowed to be unwell and claim ESA, glad you have 10 months to either prepare for work or try and get into the ESA Support Group.

      That's about the same time as I had when I first realized that there was going to be a time limit, so although I am preparing myself to look for a part time job, I am also working on an online business idea which would mean less changes to my current daily routine and that I could work around my current treatment plan that my Pdoc has got me on.

      Like you I am hoping that health charities and groups are going to take action against the means-testing of sickness benefits and somehow get them reversed or at a very minimum the time limit changed to 730 days, 365 day is just to short for most (if not all) mental health conditions, from my own experience it's taken 10 months just to be assessed for Bi-polar, only diagnosed last month (was originally diagnosed with Severe Depression for 20years).

      Anyway hopefully you won't receive any more poorly worded letters from the DWP and wish you the best for the future char drinker.


    8. #8


      Thanks Tom.

      I had a meeting with someone at the job centre today. I'm absolutely wiped out now and not sure at all that I can cope with the whole procedure at all. I'm so exhausted, quite probably from stress and anxiety/worry. Everything seemed so head-on, even though the woman had a lot of sympathy/empathy for me when I told her some of my life story, and work history and then my psychiatric history.
      It's happening way too fast for me though - I've some appointment tomorrow with some organisation to help with CV or "Employability" course - and some other group will be contacting me (a provider). And also someone else will be contacting me for some course.

      I'm not sure I can cope with any of this - tbh, I just want to be left alone to manage my health like I have been for many years now. I think the government seem to think people like me have been having a great old time at the tax-payers expense. They don't seem to acknowledge it was their system that made us ill in the first place and to be caring for us would actually be the responsible civilised thing to do. They are the opposite though - treating us badly cos they don't care if we sink or swim.

      Oh cometh the day when the guys in the cabinet choke on the silver spoons that were in their mouths at birth.

      Feeling really crap/mainly exhausted at the moment. Hopefully I'll bounce back a bit next week. When I asked the adviser about support group she said I can appeal it but she was under the impression that it was the same ruling regarding the CB ESA benefit stopping after 365 days. Probably wasn't her area of expertise, I don't know.

      After a fairly heated start (me being confused angry and frustrated), things did settle down a bit and she did say she thinks the system is all wrong at the moment. I probably gave her a hard time, but maybe they need to realise that that's part of my health difficulties - of how I deal with such things.

      I've no idea what kind of work will be suitable for me. In the last several years I experienced a window of about 2 weeks of good mental health - it was as if the blizzard just stopped. You know what? when that happened I wanted to work. But the blizzard came back a few weeks later. It was so strange, I was really hoping I'd be well again and I felt like the person I know I am/was before my first breakdown.

      I told the lady today that David Cameron should spend 3 months on a psych ward as a patient and then he might think twice about how he is punishing people.

      Thanks for this cyber-space. Externalising this is very helpful for me.

      Thanks again Tom. I wish you the very best of luck too.

    9. #9


      got the 365 letter last friday but still being keep on esa and dont need any sick lines any more

    10. #10


      I put in an appeal to try to get into the support group.

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