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An accident or ill-health can have a dramatic impact on an individual's life, and none of us knows what's around the corner. When a serious change in our health makes it difficult or impossible to continue working, the financial challenges can add further anxieties to an already stressful situation.

To assist in such situations, the UK Government provides financial support through the benefits system, but it's not necessarily a short and simple process to receive financial help — especially given recent efforts by the Government to reduce the benefits budget by eliminating false or exaggerated claims.

To qualify for sickness and disability support, claimants have to participate in a Work Capability Assessment. In October last year the Government added an extra step to the process before sick and disabled people can access financial support through Employment Support Allowance (ESA) — this new step is a new 'mandatory reconsideration' phase.

This extra step in the process takes place after applicants receive an initial decision on their application and aren't able to lodge an appeal until this is completed. It is supposed to take about two weeks to go through the reconsideration period but unfortunately, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau, it can take much longer than this.

Those looking for for sickness and disability support won't be able to claim ESA during the reconsideration phase but they can apply for Jobseekers Allowance. The CAB has voiced concerns that some people will find this difficult and hence could be left with no financial support.

If you're in this situation then you should go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau in Thame for help on how to manage your finances and make sure your application is dealt with fairly and promptly. Once the reconsideration process has taken place, you may well get a positive decision about your application. If you are unhappy with the decision, you can appeal.

Appealing against a decision can seem like a daunting prospect but advisers in your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you to deal with this.

For more information, contact your local CAB in Market Square, Thame or visit the CAB website

Adviceline: 08444 111 444
From a mobile: 03 00 33 00 650

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