If there are delays in getting ESA restored and the claimant is in financial hardship, s/he could request a short-term benefit advance.As with all aspects of DWP decision making, it may be necessary to make ‘chase-up’ enquiries where there are delays in the MR process, or in the restoration of ESA pending an appeal.Written requests should clearly state that an application for MR of a particular decision is being made.One of the government’s justifications for introducing MR was that it would enable decisions to be reconsidered in the light of further evidence, avoiding the need for so many appeals.Claimants need to insist on their right to make claim, despite the fact that they are disputing an ESA decision on the basis that they have limited capability for work.It is important, however, that they do not indicate they are too sick to work, which could result in their being told they cannot claim JSA.
If a claimant reclaims ESA pending a MR, it can only be paid pending reassessment under the work capability assessment if six months have passed since it was determined that s/he did not have limited capability for work, unless s/he is suffering from a new or significantly worsened condition.6 Where an ESA disallowance is confirmed following an MR, ESA is payable pending an appeal against a decision that a claimant does not have limited capability for work, unless this was due to the claimant's failing to return the ESA50 questionnaire or attend a medical assessment.7 It is important to submit an appeal following an unsuccessful MR as soon as possible.
The government has indicated that in straightforward cases, where no further information is needed, the MR of an ESA disallowance could be completed in about 14 days.3 In such a scenario, claimants could potentially have their ESA restored with little or no gap in payment (precluding the need to claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) – see below).
It may, however, be in a claimant’s interest to obtain and submit further evidence to increase the prospect of a favourable MR and avoid the need to pursue an appeal.
It may be worth claimants sending a copy of their appeal to the DWP, requesting restoration of ESA including arrears.
It is also important to ensure that the DWP has medical certificates (‘fit notes’) which are current and cover the period of the MR, as this is a condition of entitlement for payment of ESA during a dispute.