The thing that confuses me is that even though someone may have a doctors certificate stating Unfit for Work, ATOS, I've heard it said many times, can totally disagree. The individual is then faced with having to make an appeal. From what I've read on a Benefits Forum, approx 75% of ESA 1st interviews declare the person fit! However, on appeal, 80% of claimants win their case
. As someone said on the Benefits Forum, it seems to be all about targets and making people jump through hoops!
My daughter has one this thursday . . . not for mental illness, but a back injury which she sustained a couple of years ago after being thrown from a horse. After numerous consultations and a failed physio programme last year, the latest consultant (with MRI evidence) has discovered the problem and said she will need 12 months of functional rehabilitation. GP has signed her off as unfit for work for the last three months, but I'm fully expecting ATOS to reject her ESA claim on the basis that she can:
a) walk 100 metres without discomfort
b) raise her arms above her head
c) sit or stand without discomfort for 30 minutes
(problem is that her back goes into spasm after 30 minutes to an hour of either sitting or standing and she's in excruciating pain; and has to lie down or take yet another pain killer).
The main criticism of ATOS appears to be the nature of the questions (many are meaningless or not relevant to context of the individual), and the fact that they don't take sufficient account of consultant/GP reports.
I do sympathise with you Teamspikey. I really hope that your assessor is fair and understanding. I would advise that you ask plenty of questions and clarify your answers if need be. Most of all, make sure that you formally request a copy of their report so you can compare what they've written down in relation to the answer you actually gave . . . it is a legal entitlement, so don't be afraid to ask for a copy.
Bets of luck and hope it all goes well.