Yet another story suggesting employment opportunities for disabled people were better before the current ESA system. As Vanessa writes, many of us struggle to work because of a fluctuating health condition, not because we can't pick up an empty cardboard box.
"I have been on Incapacity Benefit (IB) on and off for ten years now due to Multiple Sclerosis. During remissions I would go to the Jobcentre and tell them I was thinking of trying work again. I got all the help I needed, there was a back to work scheme with the old government which was really useful. I also took advantage of the Guaranteed Interview scheme which guarantees an interview if you meet the minimum criteria for the job.
I managed to pick jobs I felt I could achieve.
The only problem with MS is I tend to relapse for long periods and the process of coming off and going back on Incapacity Benefit was a nightmare of form filling and Jobcentre Plus interviews. I had hoped the new reforms would make this easier.
Now things are different, I received a phone call last May to say my migration to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was starting and I would get a form to fill in and that it was that simple!
I filled in the Atos ESA50 form completely stumped at some of the ridiculous questions that had no bearing on why I am too unwell to work.
Of course I can lift the "equivalent of a pint of milk"! Crickey if I couldn't that would mean I'd die of thirst unless someone was feeding me.
Of course I can pick up an "empty box". But who needs empty boxes picked up?? Notoriously boxes tend to have stuff in them.
Anyway I've spent nearly a year now with no word from the DWP. 340 days of dreading an envelope to see if I will be pulled in front of some random stranger to see if I'm capable of picking up an empty box.
I can do these things sometimes. And I feel completely judged and guilty...Yes guilty!! When I can do them. But I'm not fit for work."