Post by aussieinusa on Mar 9, 2014 9:11:08 GMT 7
It's a frightening prospect for anyone who's been on DSP for a long time to be reassessed under the new, tougher Assessment Tables that were introduced in 2011. The tables were designed to make 40% of people who previously qualified ineligible for DSP, by deeming them "well enough to work". (Though where all those part-time jobs with plenty of sick leave for people with major limitations are going to come from, I don't know.)
So I figured a sticky thread with tips on what to do if you're reassessed might be useful.
Anyone else who's been reassessed, add your tips and/or experiences below.
Here are my tips on what to do:
1. Read the new assessment tables
These are the official documents used to categorise and rate disability, for the purposes of deciding whether you're still eligible. (Note: Some of you won't be, and will find yourself back on NewStart. I am really sorry, and wish I had better news to share.)
You can download them here: DSS web site: DSP Impairment Tables
2. Gather plenty of medical evidence
You need plenty of evidence from reputable sources documenting your diagnosis, severity, how long its been going on, etc.
This is especially important if the doctors you saw in the past have moved on, and you have to go to a new doctor (or one you've only been seeing a short time) to get reports written.
- Send CL a Freedom of Information request IMMEDIATELY (email: email@example.com ) asking for copies of the Treating Doctor's Report and specialist's report(s) you provided them in the past.
- Go through all your old paperwork and look for anything related to your disability. Ideally, this would include reports from doctors and specialists; surgical reports; x-rays, ultrasounds and other scans; test results; details of treatment programs you've tried in the past (e.g. the diagram sheets physios give showing what exercises you need to do); even receipts can help your case. Basically ANYTHING that shows what your condition is and what treatment you've received for it over the years.
- If you went to a special school or have evidence of accommodations made for you in workplaces or university, gather that as well.
- If you still don't have much evidence, go to your nearest Medicare office and ask them to print out all the items you've claimed, as far back as they can go. This verified which doctors you've gone to and when, and also what tests you've had done.
Hopefully this process will leave you with a big bundle of evidence, proving what's up and how long it's been going on -- and also that you've sought and tried plenty of treatments.
3. Write your own medical history
Taking a full medical history, especially for someone with complex and/or long-standing health issues is a big job. Unfortunately, most doctors these days are under pressure to keep appointments to 15 minutes, maximum. So you need to do some of 'their job' for them by preparing your own medical history, as best you can, before the appointment. That way, your doctor can spend 5 minutes reading over it and the next 10 minutes of your appointment (if you're lucky to get that long) asking questions and examining you.
Take a sheet of paper and make notes:
- Which doctors have you seen over the years? What was their specialty, and where did/do they practice?
- What did they diagnose you with?
- What surgeries have you had, if any? Which surgeon did them, at which hospital?
- What tests, scans or x-rays were done? What did they tell you?
- What complications did you have?
- What medication have you been prescribed over the years? For each one:
- Did it improve your condition?
- What side effects did it have?
- If you're not still taking it, why did you stop?
(e.g. finished the course / ineffective / effective but unacceptable side effects / cost / new doc changed meds / etc.)
- Did it improve your condition?
- What other treatments have you tried? (e.g. physio, counseling, meditation etc etc etc.)
- What do you do yourself to manage your condition(s)? (e.g. daily walks)
- If you have more than one condition, how do your conditions interact?
KEEP IT TO ONE PAGE. Or an absolute maximum of two pages. They're not gonna read through 10 pages of scrawl.
Also, type it up on a computer if you can. (Even if you have to go to your local library to print it.)
4. Get your report(s)
Not all doctors are familiar with writing these reports, so you do need to be clear about what it needs to say. (But don't try to tell them what to write.
Firstly, it needs to document exactly what your condition is, and confirm that it's fully treated and stabilised. This is where all the documentation you've collected above comes in -- "because I say so" is not an adequate reason for them to write something in an official report.
- If you want them to say you broke your back in ten places, you need to hand them an x-ray or specialist's report that says so.
- If you want them to say you've had four surgeries, having the surgical reports helps a lot; if not, you need to at least give them the names (hospital and surgeon) and dates, and show 'em your scars.
- If you want them to say that three years of physio failed to give you back full functioning, at a bare minimum you need to tell them the name(s) of the physios you saw, where they practice, and tell the doctor you're happy for them to contact the physio(s) to verify it.
Secondly, it needs to detail the specific functional impairments you have. Go back to the assessment tables and look over the sections that are relevant to your condition(s). Maybe you can't lift things. Maybe you can't walk far. Maybe you can't go places alone. Ideally, your doctors' reports need to say exactly that. Printing out the relevant pages of the assessment tables can help, to show the doctor what you need to establish in order to qualify. They can only attest to limitations that are supported by the medical evidence in front of them, though.
5. Go to your appointment
The expert opinion of highly qualified medicos is not enough; you also have to attend a Job Capacity Assessment.
- Make sure you attend your appointment
- Be as punctual as possible
- Bring all that documentation you've gathered, to prove that you're a genuine case
- Be polite
- Answer all their questions honestly
- Don't get aggressive toward the assessor, no matter what. They didn't create the system; they're just doing their jobs
6. Cross your fingers and hang in there
Even if you turn up with no arms, no legs, no eyes and no ears, it will still take them months to figure out whether you're really disabled or not. Seriously. (Or rather, it'll take them months to do all the paperwork so the file says the right things to get you payment.) Hang in there.
Try not to worry about it; even those of us who easily 'passed' were kept waiting the whole 8 weeks or so before they told us.